Thursday, March 26, 2015

How Psalm 139 Answers Our Deepest Fear

I was at a conference this week for some continuing education and the devotion one morning was based on Psalm 139. Psalm 139 is a well known and beloved poem that speaks of the depth of God's knowledge of us (You have searched me and know me. You knit me together in my mother's womb.) and the impossibility of escaping God (Where can I flee from your presence?).

The presenter asked us a reflection question about what these verses mean to us, but I couldn't help thinking about a different question: Why do people love this Psalm so much? Why do I? There seems to be something universally appealing about this passage and after a minute or so of not paying attention to what was actually going on, I thought, "It's about being known."

I think being understood by another person is one of our deepest held needs and conversely, not being known is one of our deepest fears. We are social creatures at heart and thrive on having at least one person who knows our dreams, gets our humor, loves our quirks, and can even see us at our worst and wants to stay with us until we're better. To be known is to be loved.

And yet many of us can feel lonely or isolated when we feel like we're misunderstood or insignificant compared to others or the vast flood of information in our daily lives. Why should anyone care about me?

Psalm 139 puts into the light one of our deepest fears and offers an answer because it speaks of an intimate relationship with God. It says that God knows us better than any person every could because we cannot escape or hide from God's sight. And yet, this God still wants to be close to us.  We are not unknown, unseen, or forgotten because God created us and knows us completely.

That could be the end of this blog, but it's not because then I started thinking: If we desire to be known so we feel loved, I wonder if God is the same? Does God hunger to be known? Not that God is an ego hog that needs attention to feel good, but because love is a two-way street. A healthy relationship is one where both people strive to understand each other and make the other feel loved.

As we head into another Holy Week, isn't the life and death of Jesus the ultimate attempt to make us understand God? Is Holy Week God's cry for us to know and love God as deeply as God loves us? As John 1:18 says, the Son, who is God, has come to make God the Father known.

How well do I know God? How do I come to know God better? How does knowing God change me and my faith? These are some of the thoughts that will be in my mind as we move toward Easter this week.

From the Gray,
Pastor Ari

“I’ve found I’m scared to know I’m always on your mind.” -Howie Day, “Collide”

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