“O LORD, you have searched me, and known me.” (Psalm 139:1)
Ralph Waldo Emerson was a man brilliant beyond what is normal for most human beings. His insights into human character are often shocking. One of my favorites comes from his essay on Friendship:
Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of another person, hypocrisy begins. We parry and fend the approach of our fellow-man by compliments, by gossip, by amusements, by affairs. We cover up our thought from him under a hundred folds.
By myself, I am who I am, but when I am with others, the masks become layered. I cannot risk letting you see who I really am. Indeed, years ago a friend said to me, “You’re not who you think you are. And, you’re not who I think you are. You’re who you think I think you are.” It is a bit of a tongue-twister, and a mind-bender, but I believe my friend was onto something.
I find great comfort in knowing that my wife, Alean, knows me almost as well as I know myself, and perhaps in some ways, she knows me even better than I know myself. And here is the beautiful part of that. She loves me anyway – she loves me despite myself. She adores me. I know this because she tells me so on a regular basis. How much more so, then, with the Creator of all that is?
In the Psalm quoted above, David asks:
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, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. (7-10)
David tells us in this Psalm-Prayer that God knows when we sit and when we stand. He knows our thoughts! He is intimately aware of our ways, our habits. He knows our words before we speak them. He knew us, and knit us toghether in the womb of our mother. He ordained each of our days before they even existed.
Yet, knowing me so intimately, including all my faults and flaws, does not cause my God to turn away from me, but rather to run toward me. Never forget that it was the very sin within us, the sin that dusgusts us and shames us, it was that sin that brought God to us – Immanuel – God in the flesh, God with us. The very thing that we find repulsive in ourselves is what God found compelling enough, driving him to endure the cross on our behalf. I believe in that love, and I treasure that love, but I do not understand that love.
In closing, David actively invites God to find the uncleanness within him, and to lead him in a better way:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
Jesus loves me, this I know…
Victoriously in Christ!
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