I Know Myself Because You Know Me
Psalm 139: 1-18
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 of my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, 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 day, for darkness is light to you. For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed. How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! I try to count them-they are more than the sand;I come to the end-I am still with you.
The Rev. James Forbes from Riverside Church in New York City once said, “Read Psalm 139 everyday for a month, and it will change your life.” I am a believer. The spiritual muscle found in this scripture has literally picked all nearly 6ft of me up when I have stumbled, been a beacon of light in the darkness, enabled me to sit at the deathbed of a friend and have words, and most importantly, it continues to beautifully define my tender relationship with my Creator. You could say Psalm 139 is my faith security blanket!
In Divinity School, I read an essay by a famous Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber, called the “I and Thou.” According to Buber, God is the eternal Thou and we are the I. Buber said there is never a time when the Thou and the I are not in intimate relationship. Translated, there is absolutely nothing in this world, not our anger, not our fears, not our mistakes, not our pain, not our grief, not even our death that has the power to separate us from the Almighty. Can I hear an Amen! I believe we experience healing when we accept in the depths of our souls that we are known by God. Completely and utterly known….and that means all the good parts, the not so good parts, and even the secrets that only we know. Some would say there is something quite unsettling about a God whom we cannot escape, who knows us with an intimacy that we would never dare risk with any other living human being.
At some point on the journey of life we must come to a place where God’s intimacy with us is the greatest truth of our lives.
For the last two weeks, I have been reciting the lyric, “I know myself because You know me,” from a song written by Thom Schuyler (yes, the legendary Thom Schyuler, who is in the Country Music Hall of Fame!). Several years ago, Thom was kind enough to sing his song, You know Me, (inspired by Psalm 139) at a healing service I gave during Lent. But it wasn’t until last week, hearing the song again, that I experienced a little epiphany of faith. I have said it many times before that this world is not for the faint of heart. Being human is both the greatest challenge and greatest honor accorded to flesh and bone. But when we remember that we are known…..known so intimately by God…all is well.
I invite you to listen below to my bootleg version of Thom’s song! If you are like me, you too, will be praying these lyrics, “I know myself because You, God, know me!” (Promise me you will listen the whole way through!) I also recommend printing my version of Psalm 139 found above and carrying it around with you. You have no idea the peace, the grace, and the hope it will bring you!
Live in Hope,