|University of Michigan campus. "Angry Neptune," by Michele Oka Doner.|
Search me, O God, and know my heart.
- Psalm 139:23
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
You, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
- Psalm 139:1-6
I have gone to quiet places and sat silently before God for countless hours, requesting God to search me and know me. I cannot know myself fully. I am easily deceived about my self, thinking I am one thing while I am another.
I know a young man who declared he was a girl. He has a sad history of being marginalized, even by his Christian brothers and sisters. Now he's getting lots of attention because he says he is really a woman. Is he? In his case, I doubt it. He has succumbed to the insipid toxins our identity-less culture exudes. He's looking to be loved. He has not gone deep enough. He is incapable of going deep enough.
I can relate to this dilemma. I am close to my self, yet so far. I, too, am incapable of going deep enough. Theistic philosopher Dallas Willard writes:
"The hidden dimension of each human life is not visible to others, nor is it fully graspable even by ourselves. We usually know very little about the things that move in our own soul, the deepest level of our life, or what is driving it. Our "within" is astonishingly complex and subtle - even devious. It takes on a life of its own. Only God knows our depths, who we are, and what we would do." (Willard, Renovation of the Heart, 17)
At least I am aware that there is a profound epistemic gap between my feeble cognitive abilities and an omniscient God. This compels me to do the one thing I can, which is:
Get before God and pray, "Search me."
(A closing note for pastors: focus on identity.)