(Read Psalm 139)
While watching our grandchildren this week, an experience with my grandson reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend about her walk with Jesus. (B) is a sweet, awesome, and loving mom of a good friend who lives across the lake from us.
She grew up in a traditional church household but said her parents didn’t really practice Christian faith and read the Bible. She explained, “I have read it cover-to-cover, but I never saw the details. I didn’t know what I was missing.” (B) eventually married and had two children. Unfortunately, her husband was inattentive and unsupportive. “I loved him so much.” She got emotional and said, “It took me five times to divorce him. My kids and I lived with my sister and family for a while; then, I later lost custody of my son. But as he got old enough to make his own decisions, he asked if he could live with me.” From what (B) described, he wasn’t capable or willing to care for him the way a father should.
So is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
God’s word is the most powerful tool available to share God’s glory with our world. God’s word is perfect, and so is the purpose behind it. The prophet Isaiah was writing to the people of Israel, instructing them to trust the Lord with all their hearts. God’s ways are not our ways! He sees and knows the eternal; we can barely see what’s ahead today. But just like the unnamed Ethiopian official in Acts, we sometimes need guidance to give God’s word meaning and context. He needed Philip to unpack the message — to give it value.
“I started the Bible every January and finished in December,” (B) continued. “They were just words, however. I went to Sunday school, I knew the children’s basics, but I didn’t have a deep understanding.” She eventually remarried and joined a different church. “I was in the choir for two decades, we went to church every Sunday, but it was like going through the motions. It was like a ritual, or at least it became that way.” Getting reflective, she admitted, “I learned that my friends then were more like acquaintances. ‘(B) baked the cakes,’” she laughed. I guess that was her identity in that church community.
(B) lives about 10 hours north of here. A few years back, she joined her daughter in Bible study with a ladies’ group whenever she made the long drive to visit. She’s a gushing well of wisdom, faith, and reflection in person, but in a group setting, she is very quiet. I asked her if she had ever shared or contributed to the group. “No,” she said. “Listening to them sharing, I never had anything to input; I didn’t know questions to ask.”
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.
Psalm 139 explores God’s omniscience, omnipresence, and the intimate relationship between God and us – His creation. In these verses, King David acknowledges that God knows him intimately. God is aware of his every thought, action, and even the words before they are spoken. We should find comfort in this knowledge and marvel at the depth of God’s understanding.
Many people struggle with feelings of insignificance at times. Psalm 139 reminds us that our true identity and purpose are found in God. We matter to Him. God has uniquely designed and shaped us for a purpose, and our mission in life comes from knowing and walking with Him.
“During one of the Bible study sessions, surrounded by my sisters in faith, I felt a powerful calling within me.” With tears streaming down her face, “I realized that I wanted to be baptized, to declare my commitment to the Lord. At that moment, I knew I had found where I truly belonged.” Her testimony was beautiful. It was authentic and heartfelt, not rehearsed or packaged for an elevator pitch. She sometimes would go from crying to laughing within a sentence. “As the ladies would passionately share their insights and spiritual experiences, I found myself speechless, lacking the knowledge to contribute or even ask meaningful questions.”
While being a church member with her second husband for their 38 years of marriage, she never felt close to Jesus. She paraphrased a Charles Stanley thought to me, saying, “If your pastor or preacher isn’t preaching out of the Bible, you’re going to the wrong church.” She added, “While my husband does not share my faith, he respects my decision and allows me to visit my family in this spiritually nurturing environment.”
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.
We can’t hide. God built us to have a relationship with Him. Our purpose is to love Him. (B) went on to describe her new relationship with Jesus.
“Though I had a basic understanding, I had never delved deep into the profound truths that lay within the scriptures. It was as if my eyes had been opened to a new reality. I never saw that before,” she proclaimed. “Where did that come from?”
My grandson just turned one last month. He is the true epitome of a rug rat now. He motors around all over the house. The only problem is that he also has an insatiable appetite for “walking” — his definition, not mine. His version of walking is lifting up his hands or grabbing mine, encouraging me to hold and guide him. He will walk everywhere around the house as long as I’m bent over, holding his hands and keeping him safe and upright. He’s happy. It’s murder on my back. Yesterday, he had me walking him up slides, climbing up chairs, and even up two steps at a time. The physics of the task doesn’t matter to him. It’s a matter of trust and faith. He wants to move, and I’m there to move him.
Both (B) and I have been Baptized in our local church. We shared our experiences. “My life has new meaning,” she declared. With wet eyes, she said, “I feel renewed, freer than I’ve ever felt before. I could see. I could hear. I could feel God in my heart,” she sobbed. “My faith has grown so much. I know I can’t do anything without God’s help, so I ask Him to protect me with all my heart, soul, and mine.”
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
The Apostle Paul explains that faith is not generated in a vacuum. There is a connection between faith and hearing the Word of God. Faith is sparked not only by the physical act of listening to the message of Christ but also by an open reception and understanding of the truth of God’s Word. Faith is awakened and nurtured through exposure to the Word of God. Paul’s emphasis on “hearing” suggests the importance of proclaiming and sharing the Gospel with others.
(B) told me about a friend of 39 years she had while singing in the choir. “I quit because the choir was becoming a bad fit for me. I didn’t want to be a professional singer.” After (B) quit, her friend ghosted her. “I called her. I sent her emoji texts all the time and never heard back. I pulled her aside one day and asked, ‘Are we still friends?’ She said, ‘Of course.’” Her friend hadn’t realized the impact of her behavior. “We’re good now,” (B) smiled. That’s who she is.
“I don’t need to be a mediator. God has given me His perspective. I ask Him to put me on His path, not mine, and when I don’t pray, my day doesn’t go well.”
For (B), being a believer has been a transformative experience that fills her life with purpose and meaning. “Every day, with all my heart, soul, and mind, I passionately ask Him for protection and guidance,” she said. (B) is so much more of a light, a living beacon of God than she knows. She consoles family and friends who are desperate. She doesn’t judge, although she is honest about her faith and counsels people who need to hear what Jesus would do or say. “You can’t just put Jesus in a box,” she told a family member who showed a one-sided, consumeristic, check-the-box version of Christ.
Summarizing her abiding faith, she gushed, “The warmth and genuine connections I have found within this community have been a source of immense joy.” She is transparently emotional about sharing her faith, and without prodding too hard, I was curious. “I let my face shine so that people can see.”
Like (B), we need to be active in spreading the Word, knowing that it is through the proclamation of the Gospel that faith is ignited in the hearts of everyone who hears it. Sharing the Gospel and the transformative power of God’s Word generates faith in us and others.
My grandson walks up impossible things. He goes places with me he could and should never go alone. He trusts in our connection. He trusts me. “Where do you go from here?” I asked (B). “Wherever God leads me. Who knows what tomorrow will bring,” she declared.
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.
- What does it mean to be fearfully and wonderfully made according to Psalm 139? Do you feel this way? Work hard at remembering how much you mean to God. How perfect you are (thanks to Christ) in His eyes.
- Do you recognize the value and dignity of every human life? Treat others with respect, kindness, and compassion, understanding that everyone is intricately crafted by God.
- Invite God to lead and guide you. Acknowledge His perfect knowledge and understanding, and surrender your plans, decisions, and future to Him, trusting that He will direct your steps. Pray hard this week with this in mind!
Where else in your life can you live out the teachings of Christ? Look for next week’s Devotion.