Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
June 8, 2014
Does the one who knows you best love you most?
There is an old chorus that includes these words:
I am loved, you are loved,
I can risk loving you.
For the one who knows me best,
Loves me most.
This is a striking idea: that God, the one who knows all about me, loves me more than anyone else. I struggled with this idea for many years. It is not easy to believe that despite my flaws God still loves me!
My wife Dean knows me better than anyone except God. Yet recently she said to me, “Even though we have been married 62 years we still do not know everything about each other.” I agreed. We continue to make new discoveries about each other. And all these years I have often wondered, if she knew everything about me, would she still love me?
I have never needed another woman in my life; Dean is always becoming another woman. That has added excitement to my years. I am constantly challenged to know how to relate to a woman who is forever changing and growing mentally and spiritually. I have to run to keep up with her.
I realize that the better I get to know my wife, the more I love her. The more I love her, the more I realize that her patience with my idiosyncrasies springs from her love for me.
The Bible teaches us that God wants us to know him. And it seems the better we know God the more we love him. The more we love him, the more we understand how much he desires loving intimacy with us.
Intimacy means everything in marriage. I love being with my wife not for what she can do for me but because of her acceptance. She accepts me just as I am. God must want to be “with” us not so we can ask him to do things for us but so we can bask in his love for us.
The Psalms teach us that God knows everything about us. There is no way to hide from God because he sees all and knows all. Even the darkness is like light to God. Darkness often instills fear in us but the Psalmist, King David, insists that God loves us so much that he will hold our right hand in the dark.
In Psalm 139 David rejoices in the incredible creation of the human body. It is God who knits together the tiny baby in the mother’s womb. The conception and growth of a baby is not merely a biological matter; the Creator of the universe is there! God is in charge, shaping the embryo of the person who will one day realize and joyfully exclaim, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”! The human body is indeed quite remarkable.
Estelle Carver taught me a good lesson when she said, “When I am taking a shower and washing my body, I give thanks to the Father for my body and for the way it has served my spirit for so many years.” I have followed her example by praying in the shower and thanking God for my body.
My friend Melvin Gaylard works with youth in his church. Melvin has no hands; his arms end at his elbows. Still he thanks God for his body and does not feel sorry for himself. He refuses to think of himself as handicapped; he has taught his elbows to think they are hands. Melvin’s beautiful spirit inspires people to get busy using their “normal” bodies to serve the Lord.
The Psalmist invites us not to be afraid because God knows all about us, but to invite God to reveal to us thoughts of our hearts that need God’s cleansing. When we are willing, the Spirit can convict us of wicked thoughts or motives and move us to repent of trying to handle life without God’s help.
Thomas Merton once offered an intriguing observation about knowing God. He raised the question as to how we might fare when one day we encounter God as he really is. If when we encounter God he turns out to be what we have pictured him to be, then we can probably handle it. But what if, Merton says, God turns out to be different from what we have thought.
Suppose in the intense heat of his holy presence, our sham and pretense is exposed until layer after layer of our ugly deceit is burned away. Finally all that remains of us is the person we truly are. Will we be able in that holy light to endure an encounter with the living God?
Such a question may prompt us to say in despair, “No, I could not stand it!” Merton, however, insists that we can handle it once we realize that God knows what we really are and he loves us anyway. God knows the truth about us and he wants us to give up pretending and worship him with all our hearts.
The more we get to know God, the more we love Him. The more we love Him, the more we worship Him. The more we worship Him, the less we fear being transparent. The more transparent we become, the more we can trust and love God. The more we trust and love God, the more we will reflect the image of Jesus Christ.
But none of this will begin to happen until we genuinely believe that the one who knows us best loves us most! Believing that can change your entire perspective about who you are and who God is. + + +