How many of us would like to make changes in our lives? I think almost all of us would answer in the affirmative. The truth is, most of us are not very content with how we are. It might be our physical appearance or a bad habit or thought patterns we are dealing with. Regardless, I wonder how many of us would be if we had a perfect body or a brilliant mind or both?
Many in our world seem to be on the path to finding perfection. It might physically through plastic surgery, any number of diets, and exercise programs. Others are trying to “renew” their minds through the exploration of different religions and philosophies.
But when we think about the perfection we often see around us, we need to remember how much of it is artificial. The reality check is 99.9% of pictures we see in magazines are airbrushed. What you see isn’t necessarily true. We are often seeking after something that doesn’t exist. Beauty, fame, knowledge, talent… good or vanity? Solomon, the wise king had everything – fame, wisdom, wives, and concubines but how did he see these things? Ecclesiastes 1:2 says, ““Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.””
Now, not everything is meaningless, but what Solomon was pointing at was the futility of pursuing things that have no eternal value. For most, life is about self. We pursue riches, career, relationships, and other things the Bible says, “rust and moth destroy.”
I grew up as a child of an immigrant. We were a blue-collar family running our own business. Life consisted of work, work, work! When I entered school, I discovered I excelled in school sports but because of family commitments, pursuing them was not a priority. In fact, I did not get to do all the extra things my friends were afforded.
But in 1983, everything changed. I had an encounter with Jesus Christ. My priorities changed, but one thing did not, which was my self-worth. My worth was measured in whether I succeeded or failed in whatever was attempted. This affected my relationships both with God and others.
It was not until I was in my 30s when my view became clearer. As a young associate pastor at a church in Fort St. John, BC, summers were the time when the pulpit became available. On one particular Sunday, I felt compelled to teach on Psalm 139. David’s words regarding God’s work in our lives – how we were put together by Him and His eternal presence in our lives, gave new sight to things. Basically, I began seeing my life from God’s perspective. In turn, this led to me seeing God from a new and refreshing perspective.
David writes in the first 6 verses: “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”
God knows who I am! And according to Jeremiah 1:5, He knows us before we came into being. He knows everything about us, what we do, what we think and He cares for us more than we could ever imagine!
But there is more! David goes on to say in verses 7-12, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”
One of the things we take pride in as human beings is our ability to keep secrets. If you think about how many marriages break up over lies and withheld information, I think the number would be immeasurable. David understood that God knew his every secret. When you go back to the beginning, with Adam and Even in the Garden, we see this lived out as they tried to “hide” from God.
God is everywhere. We can’t run away from Him. Just ask the Old Testament prophet Jonah. He tried… and failed!
But let us move on to what other things about God David reveals. Verses 13 to 18 say, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.”
If people could see you for who you truly are, what would they see? Of course, we know this is impossible because no one can see inside our hearts and minds. But with God, all is revealed in Him. He knows who I am and what I am. He knows because He made us.
When we discover things we do not like about ourselves there is only one person to blame and that is God. All through Scripture, this one truth is repeated – He made us! But there is a caveat to His making us. We were created for a purpose. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” I like how another translation puts it saying, “We are His masterpiece.” We were created to bring glory to God through our lives.
David ends off this psalm with these words, “If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Because God knows our hearts, it means He knows every dark secret or motive we may be harbouring. David struggled with a lot of different things. He was a man who was pursued and hunted. His life was full of danger from within his own family and from neighbouring nations. Because of that, He calls upon God to examine his life. Only when he comes clean with God can change and transformation occur. 1 John 1:8-9 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
God knew David’s struggles and he knows what we struggle and through Christ, we can be forgiven and freed from the bondage of it. In the end, the one thing David understood more than anything else was that God was there. Through the good times and the struggles, David understood and experienced this promise. In verses 5, 10, 16 and 18, David acknowledged His eternal presence.
None of us are perfect by any definition from this world. But in Jesus, we are perfect because of what He did for us. When God looks at us with all our zits, glasses, fat, visible and hidden sin, He sees Jesus. That is what grace is about. We may want to be more beautiful and handsome, smarter and more talented, but remember, God made us the way we are. We can improve some of those things, but in the end, God still loves us just the way we are and hopefully, we also see each other in the same way God sees us.