Life Notes—July 14, 2011
“O 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 my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?” Psalm 139:1-7
Many times when I am about to do something I know I shouldn’t, I try to make sure no one sees me. If I sneak a few cookies, I’ll check that my wife is not around. If I let something off-color slip from my lips, I make sure my children are out of earshot. If I am going to cut corners at work I strive to do so in ways no one is likely to notice. I am a sneaky sinner. When it’s just me who sees, my shortcomings seem less, well, short. And my image of myself as a health-conscious, well-spoken, faithful employee is preserved.
Psalm 139, like so many of the Psalms, is incredibly comforting during difficult times. Knowing God is aware of my every move and every thought and that I simply cannot get away from God’s presence is valuable knowledge when I feel alone and troubled. But when life is sailing along smoothly, sometimes I want a little private time to let my guard down and be bad. Oh, nothing that major; I just want to cram a few too many sweets into my body. Sometimes, with certain people, I just want to say something to or about them that I don’t really believe. And sometimes, at work, I just want to pronounce a project finished without the extra work to finish things few others will notice. Does that make me a bad person? A bad Christian? No, I think it just shows how human I am.
Of course, if we cannot lose God’s presence in times of need, it naturally follows that we cannot shake God’s awareness during times we’d like that Holy Presence to look away, if only for a moment. Yet, God’s constant presence with us should be a source of strength to help us do right, not a source of guilt. Having an ongoing conversation with God about our thoughts, words and actions is like confessing to my wife the Oreos are gone because of me—she already knows, and she loves me anyway. That God already knows the words we are about to speak is not the point. It is healthy and good to admit and confess our shortcomings. And the God who is always nearer than our next breath loves us still, and our awareness of that divine relationship is strengthened. Even though all may not be right with the world, we know we never face an imperfect world alone.
This Sunday Mitch will be preaching downtown. His sermon is “An Unobstructed View,” based on Genesis 28:10-22. Life worship is at 9:40 in Brady Hall. Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary. Dave Peterson will preach at the west campus, where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.
Come home to church this Sunday. Hiding from God? Maybe it’s time to seek.
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator