I used to play hide-and-seek with my children. They would hide, and I would search for them. The fun of seeking was knowing that someone was hiding, and the fun of hiding was knowing that someone was seeking. Our favorite pastime always ended in a happy reunion with smiles and laughter.
But as a pastor I am concerned for people who feel that no one is looking for them or fear that someone might really see them. My heart breaks for people who ask themselves, Does anyone care that I was even here? Who notices me? How can I be in the middle of a crowd and feel like no one sees me? Do I matter? Would anyone love me if they really knew what goes on inside me?
This beloved psalm responds to these worries. God knows what we are like—our heart, fears, thoughts, motives, dreams, and disappointments. God knows our past, present, and future. God understands and notices what's going on around us, to us, and inside us. There is no need or reason to pretend that we are perfect because Jesus loves us wholeheartedly, without question, including all of the not-so-perfect parts inside us.
When I read this personal psalm, I hear God’s voice saying, “I’ve got my eye on you.” It is not a warning; it is the promise of a loving, protective parent who knows, sees, and cares for us. God’s complete knowledge of us is a blessing rather than a burden because of God’s everlasting love.
God has given us everything we need to be loving, caring persons where “nobodies” are nonexistent.
Jeremiah brings another warning of impending judgment. If the people will not turn to the Lord, God will break the nation and reshape it, just as a potter breaks down and reshapes clay on a wheel. The psalmist praises God for God’s intimate knowledge of each one of us. Even from the moment of conception, God knows us and has a plan for our lives. Philemon is often overlooked, but it packs a punch. A text that some used in the past to justify slavery teaches a very different message. Paul warns Philemon not to enslave Onesimus again but to receive him back as a brother. Secular power structures have no place in God’s kingdom. In Luke, Jesus uses striking examples to teach us that the life of faith cannot be lived well with half-hearted commitment.
Read Jeremiah 18:1-11. As clay, how can you better respond to the Potter’s guiding hand?
Read Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18. God knows you better than you know yourself, yet God has given you the ability to make your own decisions. How do you respond to God?
Read Philemon 1-21. How do you honor the full humanity of those who serve you through their work?
Read Luke 14:25-33. What does it mean for you to take up the cross in your life?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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