As humans, we desire to be known. We need to be recognized, appreciated, cared for, and affirmed. We long to be in a relationship with someone else in which these needs are met, and not just met, but fulfilled in all the specific ways we would choose. A connection so close that one knows what his or her counterpart is going to say before the words are spoken, and finishing the other’s sentences is the norm.
The Rev. Martha Learned talked about our desire to be known by God last Sunday in her sermon at All Saints’ Anglican Church (to listen to the sermon, go here). As I sat there and listened, many thoughts ran through my head. What exactly does it mean to be known? What does it mean to be known by God?
I thought about Matthew 6:7-8, which says “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him”. What does it mean for us that our Father knows our every need before we ask? To be sure, one human will never be able to fully know another human’s needs. We will always fall short.
Last Wednesday I stopped at Starbucks in the morning on my way to work to grab some coffee. This has become part of my morning routine since I started a new job in March; co-workers at the job I left gave me a gift card as a going away gift and after it ran out I just kept going.
Every weekday for the last 6 months, I’ve gone through the same drive-thru and ordered the same coffee, made exactly the same way. It has become so automatic for me to pull up to that speaker box before I’m fully coherent and recite my order: “Hi; can I please have a grande iced coffee, with one pump of sugar-free vanilla and cream?” Some mornings I’m so tired (but not too tired to drive, don’t worry) that I don’t remember exactly what I say but when I arrive at the window my coffee is waiting for me, nonetheless.
This particular day, however, something unexpected happened. I pulled up to my trusty speaker box, and was preparing to open my mouth when I heard
“Good morning! Would you like your regular, grande iced coffee with one pump of sugar-free vanilla and cream?”
Taken aback, I paused, and then excitedly blurted out “Yes, I would! Thank you!” Even though I had ordered the same thing for 6 months, it never occurred to me that someone might become familiar with me, and my order, and then put two and two together to remember that it was what I wanted. They knew my exact order! I was special!
I had been affirmed, as had my nerdy attention to detail. As silly as it sounds, I continued my drive into work with my newfound prominence, my head held high. For about 5 more minutes. Then, as soon as it came, my satisfaction faded and all I was left with was the silliness. What was I so excited about? Surely Starbucks, even with its renowned customer service, wouldn’t be able to maintain its commitment to knowing my every caffeine crave.
Well, the next morning came, and as I suspected, nobody remembered me or my order (Don’t worry Starbucks; I won’t hold a grudge).
God often uses my moments of silliness to show me things about myself that I need to change and areas where I fall short. I am thankful for these times when I can feel the Lord gently shaking me, reshaping my perspective and refocusing my gaze on Him. I need to be reminded that my Father, the Creator of the Universe, the One who knows everything – ALL things – also knows me.
Our God, who created the heavens and the earth, is not bound by time, and is perfect in every way, didn’t just stop there. He created time, sky, light, land, every breathing creature, and every single hair on our head and freckle on our cheek. No element was too small, no detail unimportant.
It is when I remember that this same God of power and grandeur loves me so much that He gave Himself for me and desires to walk next to me through every second of my life that I realize – I am known. I am known more deeply than I could ever be known by anyone or anything else in all of existence. I am known because God knows me; I am who I am because He is who He is. I don’t feel like I could adequately put the depth of this love into words, but I do know that the older I get, the more I appreciate the Lord’s oversight in my life.
When I follow the Lord obediently, He sees me. When I stumble, He still sees me. And although I might pretend that nobody can see me when I fail, God is still there, waiting with open arms for me to approach him and repent. It is because God knows me inside and out that I can take comfort during times of struggle or hardship; because He knows me so well, He knows what I can and cannot handle. I can trust in the Lord, and know that everything He does is because He loves me; He knows what is best because His will is perfect. As difficult as life can be, I have to remind myself that challenges are opportunities God has given me so that I can learn and grow. When I suffer, God does not want me to be discouraged, but to cling to Him with all that I have.
As a church, we should take comfort in the fact that we are known by our God. It doesn’t mean our lives will be perfect and without complication, but it does mean that we serve a God who is faithful, a God who gives us our very identity. We are known.