Every Wednesday we’ll post something to do with doctrine and recovery. Hope it helps.
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! - Psalm 139:17
When someone’s really for you, you know it, and you respond.
I had someone like that in my life as a 13 year old 8th grader playing football for the junior high team. Not the big leagues, for sure, but it was the only option available, and I really loved the game. It was the coach, though, who turned our practices into a series of life lessons. He was an astonishing guy who demanded full effort on the field, gentlemanly behavior on campus, church on Sundays (teachers could talk that way back then) and honor above all. He began the season lining us up for the first of the many lectures we’d drink in, starting his talk with an astonishing statement: “I love every boy who comes onto my team.”
Now, in 1968 that wasn’t your standard coach talk, and love between males was only mentioned in locker room jokes. But not one snicker crossed any of our faces, because the man who stood there loving us was muscular, scary, obscene and brutal, not shy about using the paddle he wielded and able to out-bellow the most strident drill sergeant. So we knew, somehow, that there was nothing silly or perverse in what he offered. He loved us by believing in us, knowing our weaknesses and wanting to improve on them, requiring much but absolutely delighting in us as well. With him, we felt we belonged to someone passionate about our well-being and committed to our growth, and oh, how we loved him in return. Exertion for the coach was a response to the care he gruffly, generously lavished on us.
The best authority figures give us glimpses of God. So years later, when I first heard the gospel preached with references to a loving creator who wanted to also be my Father, I remembered the coach who loved me as I was, then called out the potential he saw in me long before I dared see it in myself. And, thanks in part to him, it all made sense. He was for me; what he required of me was dictated from a loving heart, for my benefit. And He was for me while fully, intricately knowing me.
David’s point here is well taken: God knows us in our entirety, as the first half of Psalm 139 so eloquently details. But, having explained how thoroughly every part of us is seen by Him, David then says in verse 17 that His thoughts towards us are precious! You know the good, the bad and the ugly, he’s saying, and, knowing all, you delight in me. Surely God doesn’t delight in sin, so I couldn’t presume my errors please Him. But He still gazes on me with delight, saying, in essence, “I love every boy who comes onto my team.”
I need to drink that in today, as surely as I needed to hear it as a kid, because much of my response to God is determined by how I think He views me. Lined up in front of Coach, we all knew the power the man in charge of us had, the power to hurt and humiliate along with the ability to build up. So his opening comment caught us up short, and reassured us more than any of us would admit. Whatever he called us to, he loved us, and we believed him. We not only heard powerful love in his voice, but his very expression – stern for sure, with “Don’t Mess” written all over it – said You Matter whenever it was directed to you. His thoughts towards us were, I dare say, precious. Even when forced to run extra laps, or cowering under his blistering rebuke, we remembered that, and it made all the difference.
I was loved before I even knew Him because, as Paul said, “When we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6) If that was true before I even belonged to Him, then, as Paul also said, “How much more shall He freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) In short, you and I are gazed upon today with Fatherly delight, a gleam showing in the eyes of the One who will, yes, demand of us today, tolerate no rebellion, convict and even rebuke when needed, but always and relentlessly beaming with love towards His own. I can, if I’ll allow myself to dwell a bit on this truth, respond with a grateful zeal. He’s a God to be feared, for sure, but reverentially, with honor and without cringe. He knows us better than we’ll ever know ourselves, and, knowing all that, has thoughts towards us that are precious.
If there’s anything in your soul or mine that resist the idea of reveling in that, I hope the same One who feels that way about us will override our doubts with a gift of faith not only in Him, but in His good will as well.
Because “good will towards men” is a comfort to be had in any season.