Reading between the lines

I recently had the enormous privilege of looking through my great grandfather’s bible. I found it incredibly humbling to hold in my hands the last book he read before he died. As I turned the pages, it was clear that it had been read often. Even though bible paper tends to be thin already, there were definitely pages that had been worn more thinly by frequent turning.

As I looked through, I was drawn to the verses that had obviously meant a lot to him, and he had underlined, or written brief notes against. Without being able to speak to him to enquire it was sometimes difficult to figure out why he might have highlighted them (Leviticus isn’t top of my list of “go to books” for assurance). Others were clear favourites and have been for generations of Christians.

I was drawn to one chapter that he had underlined in its entirety, Psalms 139.

In this well known and loved Psalm, David talks of his assurance that God the creator knows everything there is to know about him. He was there planning David before the cells that made David came together. He knows that God knows him intimately. He knows that God is everywhere, and that there is nowhere that David can hide from Him.

God knows every word that David will utter or write (including Psalm 139). He protects David and the thought that the God of the Universe cares about David in this was is too much for his head to comprehend, yet in the light of the knowledge all he can do is worship.

I love that we can read scripture again and again and God will reveal more of His heart, more of the message of the Kingdom, more that brings us closer to Him. If one of the aims of the Christian life is to become more like Jesus it inevitably means that we need to change.

As I read, it occurred to me that Psalm 139 is bookended by two similar but different concepts. The first, in verse 1 is a statement of fact. David writes “O LORD, you have searched me, and you know me.” He goes on in the next 22 verses to describe what the result of that search is. God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. He already knows everything about us.

In verse 23 David begins to ask a question of God. “Search me, O 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.”

In spite of the sure and certain knowledge that God has already completed the search and found out everything He needs to know; David asks Him to search again.

I wonder if the question David was really asking was “God , will you reveal to me the results of your search, and more importantly will you help me to trust you more, and will you show me what it is you want me to work on at this time?”

I think if we are honest with ourselves, we don’t really need anyone, let alone God to tell us about our secret failings. We are all too aware of them. The point is that knowledge doesn’t do anything to fix the problem. Asking God to highlight areas that need work is the beginning of becoming more like Jesus. Together with Him we can work on things that will change us from one degree of Glory to another. Perhaps what God will reveal to you when you ask is that you need to learn to trust Him more, to rest in the knowledge that He really does know everything. That He cares.

The key is to ask. Acknowledge He knows anyway, then ask Him to show you. Its just possible that the thing He wants to work on are not the things you think. Either way, my experience is that He will be with us every step of the way. All we have to do is ask.

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