I had the great blessing to lead worship at the First Presbyterian Church of Belle Plaine this morning. Despite my voice being not up to par due to a cold, I made it through with the Grace of God. (They’ll post a video of it online soon…)
God’s X-Ray Vision
Stephanie Friant, preached at First Presbyterian Church of Belle Plaine, MN on 1/18/15
1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-20 (full text); Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 (full text); 1 Corinthians 6:12-13, 19-20 (full text); John 1:43-51 (full text)
Last week I did something I haven’t done for years, I went to Yoga.
I finally found a place that had drop-in classes on days I could make it, and for less than $15 a session. So on Tuesday, I dug out my mat, ventured through the cold, and joined women from their 30s to 70s at the local community center.
I laid out my mat near the edge of the room as the teacher dimmed the lights. She led us through the poses, going slowly at first, then at a brisker pace. We moved through the basic stretching poses of the Sun Salutations, leading us from a standing position, to on the floor, and then back up to standing. I was pleasantly surprised as my body seemed to remember the rhythms. She took us through a few different combinations, one which
somehow released tension in my neck and shoulder I didn’t know I had been carrying.
Then, near the end, she had us do Mountain Pose 3. For those who haven’t done yoga, this isn’t an easy position. It’s like pretending to be Super Man with only one foot on the ground. It took every muscle in my body to not topple over.
But despite being rusty, I was able to relax and focus on my body. I don’t know the names of all my bones, muscles and veins, yet as I moved through the different poses I could feel the blood flow through my arms and into my hands, my rib cage extend towards the floor to lift my shoulder higher, and my muscles release after they strained.
As I followed the teacher’s calm voice, I thought about today’s Psalm. I can’t see through my skin to know how I am put together, but God does. I was reminded that God knows the deepest parts of us, and not just how our cells are assembled, but what we think, and plan.
God knows all about us, about you. God knows you much better than you know yourself.
God knows which muscles and bones are out of alignment, which brain cells are deficient, or super powered. And God knows all your thoughts, even before you think them. As in vs. 3, God is thoroughly familiar with all my, and your, ways.
There is nothing about us that is a mystery to God. And as vs. 6 points out, we can’t fully comprehend this knowledge or ability. It is way beyond us.
Today we have two biblical call stories to chew on. The first is of Samuel.
We need to remember Samuel didn’t come out of nowhere. His mother, Hannah, had difficulty conceiving and after praying and pleading at the Lord’s House in Shiloh, and with Eli’s blessing, she conceived a son. As she had promised that day at the temple, Hannah gave Samuel over to the Lord around age 3, and into Eli’s care. Our scripture today begins with Samuel, now about 13 years old, keeping vigil in the same room as the Ark of the Covenant. Samuel has spent around a decade helping Eli tend to God’s Presence on earth, yet when God calls him by name, he doesn’t recognize God’s voice. It takes three times of God speaking and with Eli’s help for Samuel to understand who is talking to him. Now, it doesn’t surprise me that a 13 year old boy doesn’t recognize God’s voice, especially at a time when everyone assumes that God wasn’t speaking to anyone. We have no indication that Samuel, other than growing up in the Lord’s House (perhaps like a pastor’s kid), had any special talents or abilities. Samuel was likely not the only child who had been dropped off at the Lord’s House as a dedication to God. Yet, God chose this boy. God chose this boy, because God knew something nobody else did.
Our second call story today is general titled as the call story of Philip, yet Nathanael plays the biggest role. When Philip tells Nathanael that they have found the long-awaited savior, Nathanael responds that it is impossible that it could true, because of where Jesus came from. Yet, Nathanael goes to meet Jesus, and Jesus immediately identifies what kind of person he is. This is Psalm 139 in action, God seeing into the heart of a person. Jesus identifies that Nathanael is a trustworthy individual and diligent in his faith, but also that he is skeptical of God’s full power. Despite Nathanael’s doubt, Jesus fully accepts him. In this interaction Jesus challenges Nathanael to be open to the greater miracles that are to come. Nathanael is called to be a witness to God’s full power.
Samuel as a 13 year old boy laying down in the presence of the Ark also didn’t understand God’s full power, yet God made him powerful. And Nathanael, a bit player in the scriptures, is like the rest of us in not being able to understanding God’s fullness. While Christ confirms that he is a faithful, trustworthy and overall upstanding individual, it takes Jesus to point out that even Nathaniel didn’t know everything God does.
God knows everything about you.
Remember that time you were driving down the road and swore at the driver who cut you off?
Or that time you were really angry at someone? Perhaps you kept it inside, or maybe not?
That time you cheated, that time you yelled, that time you could have helped someone, but didn’t.
God also knew that time you prayed hard for a stranger. When you forgave someone for something they did to you. For the time you gave up a dream, so that someone else could live theirs. And God knew, and knows, those days that you do everything you can just to get though the day…and you still smile.
Every time Facebook changes their privacy rules, or we hear about a theft of credit card and social security numbers, or we find out someone knows a secret we didn’t want them to know, our hearts cringe. We live in a world where what is considered private is shrinking, and many are worried about how this private information can be used against them. We worry, some of us daily, about our information getting out. There is even an entire new industry whose job it is to “secure” our privacy on the web, and hundreds of laws, like HIPPA, that tries to scare people away.
Yet we have never really had privacy. Our thoughts, our dreams, our bad behavior, everything – even how our very cells are put together – has always and will always be known to God.
Nothing about us has ever been private.
Does this scare you?
It’s not meant to.
God knowing everything about us is an amazing gift.
It’s an amazing gift because we are assured that God is knows and loves us, and God is always here to help us.
1 Corinthians and the entirety of Psalm 139 remind us that God is just waiting for us to ask for guidance, to be open to God’s full knowledge and understanding.
As I moved through the yoga poses this past week, I wondered about myself and about this congregation.
We don’t know everything that goes on inside our bodies, our hearts and our minds. At any given moment, we have only glimpses and a limited understanding of who we really are and what our potential is.
While we may admit we don’t know everything, we often act as if we do. Making our choices based on what we want – and not what God wants.
We often think we have the whole picture, but we don’t. Only God does. Only God knows everything about us, and about how we all fit together.
It is through faith, that we can, and must, leave our lives to God. We must allow room for God’s full power to encompass our lives, making miracles happen. We must listen for God’s personal and collective Calls, and respond to that voice – trusting that God knows much better than we do.
We truly have the freedom to choose anything, so we can choose to be dependent on our own limited understanding, or to be set free through God’s unfathomable knowledge, power and Grace.
As we listen to the following meditative music, I want you to do something. Don’t worry, it’ not yoga. No superman poses here.
Now, take a deep breath and relax your shoulders. Take this time to sit with the body that God gave you. Be aware that despite all you know about your body, your thoughts, and your life, God knows more than you do.
Take this time to embrace that you don’t need to know everything, because God does. And embrace that you don’t need to be in control, because God is. Embrace that God knows everything about you, and that it is an amazing blessing.