“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” (Timothy Keller)
I have been thinking about this idea of being known a lot over the last month or so for one reason or another.
It is a concept I have struggled with and do battle in my thoughts with.
There is horrible feeling in the pit of the stomach when you feel like you’ve been misunderstood or your motives have been misconstrued.
1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God! How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand — when I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
As I was thinking about Being Fully Known, I read this passage, and it totally brings it home to me. God knows everything about me , sees all, knows all etc. and yet this passage talks about God searching us and knowing our heart. Sometimes I don’t even know myself. One of the things that Malcolm Duncan said once at Spring Harvest was that everyone has a public view of themselves.
My youngest son is the sweetest, most huggable, lovely little thing. UNTIL he’s hungry or tired. Then it’s a different story! He leaves home, says he doesn’t want to live with us anymore, is going to find a new family. He’s unreasonable, you can’t use logic, or bribes, or black-mail. I mean, nothing works with the kid! But I know that once I get some food in him, or he goes to sleep, he will go back to being adorable. I know him, so this behavior is just a blip. I know it’s not really him and I know what I have to do to fix him. I never stop loving him. However, if you came to our house when he was having one of his episodes, well, I guess you would get a totally different opinion of him and probably wouldn’t like him too much.
We all have days like that though don’t we? Days when we want to paddy and throw our dollies out of our prams, days when we snap at people and misbehave. One of our deepest longings is for someone to know us well enough to not judge us, to forgive us, to know that the bad behavior doesn’t define us. Psalm 139 suggests exactly that. God has searched us, not just glanced over us, or met us on a good day. He knows every last bit of us including the terrible parts.
John 1:48 (NIV)
48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;”
I absolutely love this! Even before I was born, I was fully known. There were no mistakes. God didn’t make a error when He made me and you.
We all know someone who has been living a double life. Someone whose public face is not what they’re like in private. It’s devastating when it comes out, not just to the person, but their family, the people around them, those that did life every day with them and never knew. Just like when you throw a pebble into still water. The ripples go on and on until they reach the edge of the water.
Walt in ‘Breaking Bad’ had a public face. But in private he was someone completely different. The destruction that his double life caused was catastrophic. Look at Jesse at how it affected his mental and emotional state. He was a mess. ‘We all lead double lives to some extent, we all have secrets’ ‘not like him we don’t, not like him’
Spider Man 2. I won’t give the story away, but Peter Parker is Spider Man! No one knows except his girlfriend. He lives a double life. And generally it just causes pain and heartache. It’s hard to keep covering up all the time. There’s always clues to the hidden life hanging around, like a spider man mask flung off on the floor, a book with WW on the back of the toilet.
It is hard work living a double life, it is exhausting and it takes it toll on everyone around.
One of the plans I had for the summer was to learn how to use Twitter. I’ve had an account for ages, but I haven’t a clue how to use it. I’ve got people following me, but to be honest, I don’t ever Twit anything because what do I have to say that’s of interest to anyone else?
Now Facebook I get and I like it, but again I rarely post anything personal. I felt challenged quite recently about how little I share about my faith on my facebook page. And the reason is this. I know myself well enough to know that I am not perfect and am far from it. And I feel that if I start posting things about my faith, people will think I’m a hypocrite.
Maybe they will. I guess it’s a possibility. We all do things wrong, make mistakes. Sin every day. It’s a hazard of going out every day! It’s when the sin becomes habitual and takes control of us that it becomes a problem.
We can start to feel like we want to try and earn the love that God has for us because we can’t understand how He can fully know us and yet fully love us.
We can easily slip into a works-based Gospel because once we understand that we are fully known and fully loved, we have an innate desire to want to repay that love because we know that we’re not all that.
Peter Panegore. He began with a story about how he died and encountered God. It was 30 years ago, but that experience had determined the course of his life from then on.
Peter grew up both Catholic and Greek Orthodox, made to go to classes by parents who could never agree on religion. He was an outdoors guy and a skier, so he decided to go to college at Montana State. During a break, he went with another student ice-climbing in the Canadian Rockies, going up a sheer vertical face covered with ice. He fell, and that is how we died—for a little while. He was 20 years old.
When his head and chest smashed against the ice, Peter says he left his body. He could look down and see it, and much of his story was like other near-death experiences you’ve heard about. But what was striking was what Peter experienced once he came into the light. He did not see God. Rather, he knew that God saw him. He understood that for the first time he was fully known. He was shown all the pain that he had caused others through his life—intentionally and unintentionally. But he understood that in spite of this he was forgiven. The God who fully knew him also deeply loved him.
But then Peter heard his climbing buddy calling him back and saw him shaking his body. For a brief time Peter negotiated with God about whether he could go back and finish his life, and when God said yes, Peter felt that he was sucked back into his body and opened his eyes, without any idea where he was. But he remembered everything that had happened. He understood that he was fully known and deeply loved. It took him 20 years before he “came out of the closet” and told people about his encounter with God, but that encounter led him to Yale Divinity School and into a ministry in UCC churches in coastal Maine—and now on television and the internet.
What is it, then, that we really need to know from God? That we are fully known and deeply loved.