“Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thoughts from far away.” Psalm 139:1-2
Have you ever read something a thousand times and felt like you truly understood what it was saying? Me too. In the midst of this unanticipated year like no other, my thoughts have traveled to places I could not have imagined or envisioned. Like many of you, this year has catapulted us into unchartered waters and we are only now learning how to stay afloat. At first, it was easy to maintain a positive outlook, saying all the right “Christian” things and honestly believing the words we were saying. Then, two weeks turned into three months, and life in isolation after three months began to chip away at the chipperness. For many of us, this year has been chock full of one disappointment after another, with plans we had in place falling apart. What’s worse, somehow, is that changes occurred that never entered the realm of possibilities in our minds. Thus, sending us further reeling. Free time, at first, felt like a gift. Evenings that were not packed full of sports practices and games. Quality time with our families, watching shows, playing games, or going for walks. And exercise? Wow–even my dogs are in the best shape of their lives, and I trained and ran a virtual half marathon. Yes, at first, our thoughts towards the situation were of optimism and victory. We could finally allow our bodies and our minds to rest from the constant busyness of our lives. Then, the optimism turned to tension. Fuses with each other began to grow short. Unease began to fester, wondering, how much longer? In the beginning, we thought life would return to normal. Yet what is normal? There will be no going back, only moving forward and persevering in this new kind of living. We quickly learned of all we had taken for granted. Children attending school. College kids living on campus. Eating out. Going to church. Watching a movie on the big screen. Even so, we expected life to return to normal, if only when school begins again, right? WRONG. Newsflash, your children will not be going to school every day like they have done since they started kindergarten. Fall sports? Guess again. Will anything ever feel right again?
All the while, attempting to hide behind the good “Christian” responses to unforeseen circumstances, and in fact, spiraling behind the facade. Thoughts began their descent to speculations and anxieties. Nights slowly being robbed of anything that resembles restful sleep. The question begins to stir, “what is the purpose of my life? Have I been missing it all along?” We have come face-to-face with the harsh reality that we were never in control anyway. We have ensured busy lives and doing all the “right” things by our children and families, only to discover that perhaps, we had been missing the point of our lives. God cares about the state of our hearts above all else. He is still God in the midst of a pandemic, in the midst of rioting. God is STILL love. He is always love. And, He is never surprised by the events in our lives. Even better, He is not surprised by our thoughts, feelings, and responses to what is happening in our lives. He already knows our thoughts. He knows how we are going to respond. And He still loves us and sent Jesus to die for us. He bestowed upon His children His Holy Spirit, whom He calls our comforter and our counselor. Yet are we truly tapping into the TRUE source of comfort and seeking wisdom from Him?
I feel like I have known Psalm 139:1-2 for as long as I can remember. At times, it has brought me comfort because God knows my thoughts and my feelings even when they are not exactly making sense to me. Other times, it has made me squirm because I know what I am thinking and it cannot possibly be pleasing to Him. Only recently has He reminded me of the reality of these verses. I don’t have to bring my thoughts to Him in embarrassment or shame. I don’t have to try to talk myself out of how I am feeling before I bring them to Him. He is not fooled by my efforts to place thoughts in secret compartments I don’t want Him to find. He already knows. There is great freedom in this truth. My thoughts, even the ones I am not proud I have, can be turned heavenward to His ears into prayers, asking for His discernment, for His strength to take the errant ones captive, and make them obedient to Christ. He sees the fears about the remainder of the year that are silently lurking in the background of my mind. He knows the thoughts I have about the speculations of the unknown. He doesn’t want me to pretend like they are not there. He wants me to bring them to Him. Jesus longs for relationship with me and you. He wants me to invite Him into the thoughts I am having and then choose to trust Him with those thoughts. No more shame or hiding. All thoughts laid bare and exposed before a loving God who wants us to invite Him in.
I don’t know how you and your people are managing during these troubling times. I pray that you are able to trust the Creator who already knows your thoughts and feelings. He is still God in the midst of the chaos. Our thoughts can be burdensome and threaten to take us under. That is not God’s desire for any of us. He is bigger than our thoughts. And He welcomes us, wayward thoughts and all, and bids us come and leave them at the foot of the cross. Let the power of Christ lift your eyes to focus on Him and not the surrounding circumstances. How much easier said than done, but God wants to do more for us than we could ever ask, think, or imagine. Let today be the beginning of trusting Him with our thoughts and asking Him to transform our minds!