The #Live Lent reflections continue with the story of Philip asking Nathaniel to ‘come and see’ Jesus. Nathaniel discovers that Jesus knows all about him and saw him before he arrived. (John 1:45-47) I was reminded of the way that over the years I have come to realise that Jesus knows me inside out and even better than I know myself. He knows the hidden parts – the things I have forgotten. As it says in Psalm 139:
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
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.
This is one of my favourite psalms. It helps me to know that whatever I have been through in the past, and whatever is to come, God knows it. The verses that speak of hating are often missed out of public use of these psalms. That is understandable because it is too easy to take them out of context and stir up hatred. And, Jesus did say we should love our enemies which leaves the Christian in a bit of a dilemma.
My way of coping with verses like this when using the psalms for my own prayers is to think of the negative voices in my head as the enemy. The voices of self reproach and loathing. Fortunately I no longer suffer from them (except on rare occasions). But when I did, then I would use those sorts of verses as a way of telling the negative voices to go.
Jesus became real to me over a long period of time. Mine was a gradual coming to faith with some periods of doubt and disbelief too. But the doubts were overcome by experience. I know that Jesus is real because I have experienced his healing and transformation.
The firsts time I experienced God speaking to me through the words of scripture was when I was a new Christian with my shiny new bible and a single tape of praise songs based on the Psalms. One song in particular was going through my head one day and bugging me. It was cheerful and I was not. In the end I looked up the psalm it was based on. The song was just a repeat of verse 3 of Psalm 40. I had a WOW moment of realising that God knew where I was – he understood – and he was showing me that he would bring me out of it. It struck me so much that I tentatively took a pencil and underlined the verses that spoke to me. I had never underlined anything in a book – my mum would have been horrified at such vandalism!!!! The pencil has faded over the years, so I’ve just gone over it in blue pen for this photo. The bible has been repaired several times as it is falling apart.
I was aware of my sin and I used the psalm to cry out to God to help me. And help me, he did. Over the course of many years he has put my feet firmly on a rock and I am no longer in the pit of despair. You will notice a bracket around verses 9 & 10. As I read the psalm that first time I felt those verses had something to do with me, but I didn’t know what. Eventually the pieces fell into place. This was the first of many indications that Jesus was calling me to preach and tell others to “come and see”. It is this that spurs me on to spend time on this blog and on continuing with publishing the book Are We There Yet? The publishers have designed the cover….. it is exciting to think it won’t be long before my story is in print. The ‘great assembly’ of the psalm includes those outside the church congregation – the world wide web is as great an assembly as you can get.
NB The pencil reference to psalm 70 was added some time later during my study of the bible.
Back to today’s picture though. I filled in the gap in the picture by writing what might loosely be called a poem.
The journey though Lent
begins with remembering.
Jesus became real to me
step by step
prayer by prayer
when I responded to
”come and see”
and invited him in to
live with me
in my heart.
So I became part
of the continuing
of the invitation
’come and see’
Not the world’s best poem by any means. But it is true nevertheless and my prayerful response to today’s reflection. This is the completed first page of Lent in my prayer and art journal.