O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you….
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. (NRSV)
It is no wonder that so many people struggle with self-image today. Beautiful people dominate the television shows and movies; the rich and powerful are highlighted in the media; and, people with perfect teeth and immaculate attire are splashed in front of us in the daily barrage of advertisements. Meanwhile, the rest of us 99% of the population quickly notice that we do not measure up to such a standard. It only takes a few minutes of people-watching at the local grocery store to realize that the vast majority of persons have less than perfect bodies and do not have much of a budget to live like the other less than 1% of the famous.
Into this abyss of feeling depressed about one’s image enters the biblical truth that each one of us, no matter our station in life is known and accepted by God. The Creator God took great care to make us and form us just the way he wants us.
God knows us intimately, inside-and-out, and he does not condemn us or shame us but loves us wholly.
So, rather than wasting our emotional energy and our mental faculties on wishing we looked different or were more like so-and-so who seems to always have it all together, we can bask in the understanding that God is with us – there is no place we can go where God isn’t. The Lord is with us in our good times and bad; when we are at are best in loving others and when we are at our cranky worst; and, in our joy, as well as our anxiety. God is there for it all – no matter the state of our heart or our geographical location.
No matter who we are, the entire race of humanity has been created in the image of God, and, on that basis alone, we have inherent value, worth, and majesty. Let us, then, treat ourselves and others with the yardstick of grace.
How do you talk to yourself? You know what I mean. The kind of speech that goes on inside your head. The things which you say inside your heart that no one knows but you. You will perhaps agree with me that you are rather hard on yourself. In the reclusive parts of your mind, you speak to yourself in ways that you would never say to others, nor tolerate others saying about someone else. Only you know the depth of your own sorrows, hurts, fears, insecurities, and worries. Except….
God. He knows it all. He knows it all intimately. And He is not repulsed. God knows that the answer to all the doubts about yourself is His loving gaze upon you.
You have the freedom to plumb the recesses of your heart and soul – to bring out all that is inside the cluttered closet of your mind and heart without fear of God calling you what you call yourself.
I encourage you to slowly read, out loud, these verses for today several times. Allow the presence of God to wash over you with grace and understanding. One of the theories of human psychology is that people are driven by two primary needs: to intimately know another person; and, to be intimately known by another. God knows us even better than we know ourselves – and he still loves us! There is nothing about us that God does not already know. No human relationship can even come close to the level of knowledge and understanding that God has for us and about us.
To know God is likely the greatest and highest pursuit we could ever enjoy. God is so big and infinite that we will spend an eternity getting to know him and will never get to the end of knowing him completely. That is the kind of God we serve. Be encouraged today and always with the reality that you are divinely known and can know God.
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; Through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen. – Book of Common Prayer