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God Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself

January 8, 2018

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar . . . before a word is on my tongue you know it completely.” (Psalm 139: 1-4)

Who knows you?  Your parents?  Your siblings?  Your friends?  Your co-workers?  Your spouse or partner?  They all know you to some extent.  The depth to which they know you depends on the length and depth of your relationship. The closer you are to a person, the more time you spend with a person, the more you learn about each other. Bob and I knew each other for five and a half years before we married, which is a good long time to get to know another person.  And while we know each other very well after over 37 years of marriage, we still don’t know everything about each other.

But God knows everything about each of us.   You cannot hide anything from him.  David wrote, “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar . . . before a word is on my tongue you know it completely” (Psalm 139: 1-4). God knows you better than you know yourself. That is the theme running through the Scripture texts this week. God knows you better than you can imagine, and he wants to guide you, care for you and help you grow.[1]  We forget that David told us three thousand years ago that God knows us inside out.  We forget that he knows what we are going to say before we speak.

When Samuel first heard God’s voice he thought that Eli was calling him.  The text says “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord has not yet been revealed to him” (1 Samuel 3: 7).  But the next time the Lord spoke to him, he answered as Eli had instructed him: “Speak for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).  This verse reminds me of a story I heard related by Dallas Willard, who was impressed with a man’s faith.  He asked the man how he communicated with God.  The man answered: “I go into church every day and sit down. I say to God: ‘Lord, it’s Raul. I am listening.’” And he sits in silence waiting for what God has to say to him.  My husband has organized periods of Holy Silence in our church on the Tuesdays between Epiphany and Lent, when people come and sit in church for an hour, mostly in silence.  A  few verses of Scripture are read and some quiet music played between the intervals of silence.  We grow in faith, in wisdom, in understanding, in love, and patience as we listen for God’s voice.  His words are tailored to each of us.  Just as a tailor alters a garment to fit your precise measurements–God, who knows you better than you know yourself, tailors his words to each of us as unique individuals.

And as unique individuals, his Word resonates with each of us on different levels. It strikes a different tone in each of us depending on our circumstances at the time, our past experiences, our personalities, and many other factors.  When we hear or read a verse of Scripture, we may pick out different words or phrases at different times of our lives. That’s one reason why Scripture is such a treasure. We discover new jewels each time we dive into it. When you practice lectio divina, the ancient art of praying the Scriptures, God speaks to you differently than he speaks to me. “But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit” (1 Corinthians 6: 17).  The same verse can inspire us in different ways at various times throughout our lives, but each time we meditate on Scripture, we are united with God.

Philip, Andrew, and Peter decided to follow Jesus after Jesus’ baptism. John tell us that “This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan” (John 1:28).  Bethany is a suburb of Jerusalem, south of Galilee and Nazareth. Nathanael was encouraged by Philip to go with them, but was a bit hesitant when he heard that Jesus was from Nazareth, a town despised by Jews because of the Roman garrison located there.  Despite his hesitation, he agreed to go.  John relates, “When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, ‘Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false’” (John 1:47).  Nathanael was amazed that this Jesus, whom he had not yet met, knew him: “’How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, ‘I saw you when you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel’. Jesus said, ‘You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that’” (John 1:48-50).  Jesus saw completely through Nathanael to his inner being, to his soul.

Jesus knew you before you were born. He observed you as a newborn and at every moment of your life.   You are an open book to this Jesus who knows you inside and out. And even though he knows all of your attributes and flaws, he sent his Spirit to comfort, guide, and care for you. He loves you more than your best friend or beloved spouse. He is always there for you. You can trust him; he has your best interests at heart. He will never use his knowledge of you against you. He will never ignore, manipulate, or deceive you.

But building a relationship with God is not a one-way street. As you spend time with him, and in the Word, he will reveal himself to you.  When Samuel first heard God’s voice, Scripture tells us “Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord has not yet been revealed to him” (1 Samuel 3: 7).  Like Samuel, you will come to know God better when you spend time with him.  You will become a part of his family.  He wants you to follow him, so that he can show you great things, and lead you out of dark places into the light.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for the Second Sunday After Epiphany are 1 Samuel 3: 1-20; Psalm 139: 1-10; 1 Corinthians 6: 12-20; John 1: 43-51.

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