As I look back on these three memories from my own third year of life, one fact stands out to me…my father knew me! He knew what I needed on that long road trip from Eastern Montana to Eastern Washington. Today's parents might just medicate the kids to make the many miles more tolerable for them but, in those days long ago, that was not an option. Instead my mother brought along "car toys" and snacks to help fill the many hours in the car and my father sang to us. He knew we loved to hear the songs he had sung around a campfire with the Boy Scouts and he knew we loved to sing with him. In addition he was well-aware that sleeping through a part of the journey would help make the trip go by faster for us so, when he thought we were winding down our own sing-a-long interest, the melodies became more of a sedative to help his little girls relax and fall asleep for awhile. He knew us.
If you and little Sojourner have nothing in common as you look back on your own childhood story, take heart; there is a Heavenly Father Who loves you more than you will ever know! Whatever your upbringing, you can be sure that this Father loves you with a perfect love. He is the One Who made you to have just that color of hair and eyes. He decided how tall you would be before you had ever been born. Before your parents ever knew you were on the way, this Father was making plans for your life! Your Heavenly Father knew you, your personality traits, what you would grow up to be, and even if you would like Chinese food better than Mexican! No, I am not kidding! There is not a single thing that has anything to do with who you are and what you do or say that the Father who made you does not already know. And, knowing all of that, He still loves you with an everlasting love!
How often I have heard people refer to their birth as "an accident" because their parents had never planned the pregnancy… be it because they were too young to be parents or already had too many children in the family. In just a minute I will share with you a most encouraging passage of Scripture, dear Reader, to assure you that there is no such thing as "an accident" when it comes to the birth of any baby; God has planned each and every one! The exact details of the parents, economic status, etc. may not have been just what the Father would have seen as the very best situation with which to surround the new little life; but, even so, God had a plan for the good of the little one being born into those circumstances. He or she is not just another baby to add to the seven billion now living on this earth. Father God had a reason for this new life and as we sojourn with our eyes upon the Heavenly Father, we will see the plan He had made for our own life unfold. (If you are looking back at your life and asking how a "good" Father could have let that happen to you… hang on, we will get there later in the series.) Our focus should always be on the truth of the Scripture verses we read in Psalm 139. Our own life is very personal to our Heavenly Father. He created us in every detail and He loves us more than we can ever imagine! Yes, Father God is the Creator of the universe… and a lot more! Yes, Almighty God is all-powerful, while at the same time being so tender that He can hold a newborn bird in the palm of His hand without crushing it. Yes, God is the One in control of everything, though He doesn't always choose to control everything. While the President or Prime Minister of your own country may not have a clue who you are, you can be assured that the Creator of the universe, your Creator does know you and everything about you! Scriptural proof? Time to read Psalm 139. I will record it here as it is written in The Message paraphrase of the Bible. It is not a literal translation so a couple of places I have added a note from the NIV, which is a translation. I think that the Message paraphrase does a great job of providing the heart of this passage of Scripture, which I do believe we can assume is addressed, personally, to us each time we read it!
1-6 God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I'm an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I'm never out of your sight. You know everything I'm going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you're there, then up ahead and you're there, too— your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful— I can't take it all in!
7-12 Is there any place I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you're there! If I go underground, you're there! If I flew on morning's wings to the far western horizon, You'd find me in a minute— you're already there waiting! Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I'm immersed in the light!" It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you.
13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother's womb. I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day.
(Note: NIV says it like this in verse 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."
It is extremely likely that each day had been planned out for us before we were born because God made specific plans for each of us. However, our choices would determine if what He had written on the pages of our life actually came to be. What is a given is that, unless we continually made bad choices and/or took our own life, the exact number of our days sojourn on this earth had been determined before we had breathed one breath in it! That is a huge comfort to me when someone dies before "I" think he or she has lived out their life. The length of their life had already been determined, no matter what I might think of the number.)
17-22 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I'll never comprehend them! I couldn't even begin to count them— any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you! And please, God, do away with wickedness for good! And you murderers—out of here! — all the men and women who belittle you, God, infatuated with cheap god-imitations. See how I hate those who hate you, God, see how I loathe all this godless arrogance; I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred. Your enemies are my enemies!
23-24 Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.
(Note: In the NIV verses 23-24 say, "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." I really think that the part about checking on my anxious thoughts is important. It, certainly, encompasses many of us when we find ourselves under stress, doesn't it? We get anxious, fearing that God just might not answer our prayers in the way or by the time we would like so that ugly "S-word" fills our hearts right up to overflowing. Stress so rules our lives in the middle of crises that it really can interfere with what Father God is trying to tell us about any given situation.)
Psalm 139 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. I find it extraordinarily comforting that the Holy Father God knows me so well and still he loves me!
(Author's note: If you want to know more about "anxious thoughts" and what to do about them, check out our book on fear. Fear is defined as "anxious concern", among other things. This is addressed in the book, Dealing With Our Fears When Letting Go Seems Impossible. The paperback version was available on Amazon last week for $6.95 so, hopefully, the price is the same or lower this week. It is also available as an electronic book. Here is the address if you would like to check it out:
*** Part III: He Cares!… Coming Tomorrow