A View from the Top
In the movie, Mr. Holland's Opus, it tracks thirty years of a man's life. He raises a family while teaching high school music by pouring his life into them. He took the teaching job because he couldn't make a living writing and performing his own music. His dream of composing a symphony was put on the back burner for the more pressing matters of life. But his dream was always there, vibrating just beneath the surface, waiting, hoping. Then when the music program at the high school was axed because of financial cutbacks, he struggles with being put aside and is left questioning whether his life has even mattered at all.
Do you ever feel that way? I mean, deep down, when it's quiet and everybody else is in bed? Or when you're driving and you don't have to pay much attention, do you start thinking about where your life is headed, what you've done or haven't done? Or maybe you just feel like a rat in a cage, turning the big wheel. You are working hard, but it doesn't feel like you're getting anywhere. You feel under-appreciated, overlooked, under-paid, or even unnecessary. Most of us have felt this way at one time or another, and some of us wrestle with these feelings every day.
If you have asked the question, "What difference does my life make? Does anybody really know or care about me?" then God has words of encouragement and direction for you in Psalm 139. He wants to show you a different picture of your life, a view from the top, to help you see the meaning of your life from His perspective.
I believe there are four truths that will replace our pity-parties with purposeful pursuits.
The first truth is that God knows you! In the opening six verses of Psalm 139, it tell us that God knows our story intimately:
"O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, LORD. You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me. This behind and before, and lay Your hand upon me. [This] extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to [reach] it."
These words convey God's knowledge of every layer of our life. They picture God like a detective who is tracking even our most mundane activities, studying us even when we think we're alone. He knows what makes us tick and why we do what we do. God knows our heart, our fears, our thoughts, motives, dreams, and frustrations. He knows our past, present and future. He understands us. He gets us. God knows us inside and out and He loves us.
When David says “You have laid Your hand on me,” he is referring to an Old Testament practice of bestowing a blessing on someone. A wise father would place his hands on his children and speak words into their lives about who they are and who they will be, what their place in the family meant, and what their future will be. In the same way, your Heavenly Father bestows blessing on you, because of His great love, His laying on of His hands is to mark your place in His family and a verbal promise of what your future is all about.
The second truth is that God pursues you. David said in v. 6 ..."It is lofty; I am unable to [reach] it." What he meant is, "I just can't deal with this. It's too overwhelming. It's out of my reach!." David's first instinct in overwhelming circumstances is the same as ours - How can I escape? Where can I hide? If God knows all that, He knows I'm a hypocrite, He's heard my lies, He saw what I did last week. I am doomed.
Then in Psalm 139:7-12, the Psalmist David says: "Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. If I live on the eastern horizon [or] settle at the western limits, even there Your hand will lead me; Your right hand will hold on to me. If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will become night,' even the darkness is not dark to You. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to You."
David fears total exposure and it moves him to ponder if there was some retreat, geographically or spiritually, to which he could hide himself away. But God will not let him run away. "He tracks my path," says David, but not to criticize, not to point out what's wrong and not to execute judgment. God is a giver of grace, and He yearns to be involved in my life.
Psalm 139:10 portrays a beautiful picture. David says, if I could ride the sun's rays and fly at blinding speeds to some remote place or bury myself under miles of ocean, even there, writes David, Your hand will lead me (that's guidance); Your right hand will hold on to me (that's security). You know what this means, don't you? You are wanted by God. Over and over in the Bible, we see this same message of affirmation. Scripture calls us God's beloved, chosen, dearly loved children, and we are told that nothing, not one thing, nada, zip, nilch can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
A young girl named Mary Ann says that when she was growing up, she knew she was different. "And I hated it," she said. "I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started school, my classmates made it clear to me how I looked to them: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and speech that could not be easily understood.
"When schoolmates asked, 'What happened to your lip?' I'd tell them I'd fallen and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different. I was convinced
that no one outside my family could love me.
There was, however, a teacher in the second grade whom we all adored. She was short, round, and happy. She was a sparkler in my dark night. Every year we had a hearing test. ... She gave the test to everyone in the class, and finally it was my turn. I knew from times past that as we stood against the door and covered one ear, the teacher sitting at her desk would whisper something, and we would have to repeat it back - things like "The sky is blue" or "Do you have new shoes?" I waited there for those words that God must have put into her mouth, those seven words that changed my life. My teacher said, in her whisper, "I wish you were my little girl." Those 7 words changed my life.
During this new year, pledge to be someone’s sparkler in their dark night...carry the Light. Promise to speak words with such promise that they change lives.
The third truth is that God Himself made you. Psalm 139:13-16a says:
"For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I will praise You, because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless - "
I love the phrase in v. 13 where David writes, "I have been remarkably and wonderfully made." That sentence makes it plain that after God made you, He threw away the mold. You are totally unique, a one-of-a-kind, fashioned with awe-inspiring skill by the Almighty right down to the thumbprint. Look in the mirror tomorrow morning and surprise yourself by saying something kind. Say..."I am one of a kind. I am custom made body, mind, and soul by the God who makes no mistakes.”
God has done some fancy knitting, wouldn't you say? There is no one in history like you. He gave you a personality, innate abilities, spiritual gifts, and a particular purpose that sets you apart for Him. Give your uniqueness to God completely in this new year and shine bright!
The fourth truth is that God has plans just for you. Verses16b-18 says: " - all [my] days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began. God, how difficult Your thoughts are for me [to comprehend] ; how vast their sum it!”
A crisp, clean $100 bill is worth the same amount as an ugly, older, more used one. The tattered $100 bill has value because of what it is, not because of how it looks, where it’s been, or how it has been treated. You may feel like you've been stepped on, beat up, or kicked around. You may feel dirty, unworthy, or useless. Just know this - you matter to God. Regardless of what hurtful words have been spoken about you or to you, no matter who has rejected you, and even if you were abused verbally, emotionally, or physically, you still have value.
Don't let what another human does define you. Don't draw conclusions about yourself based on them. Look higher - You matter to God so much until He sent His only Son for you. You belong, you are cherished, you are His - forever!
God has created each day of my life, tailoring circumstances, establishing boundaries, and fashioning opportunities for His glory and my good. But God doesn't just set the plan in motion and look the other way. His thoughts are on you constantly. He greets you each morning with fresh mercy and new opportunities, ready to go through the hours with you. He loves your company. And He has specific plans that you alone can fulfill.
To sum it up, let me say that God knows you, He pursues you, He made you with a purpose, and He is ready to live out those plans alongside you each day.
Will you allow yourself to hear His still, small voice as He smiles at you and whispers... "I am so glad you are my child. Take my hand. Let's run this race together."
~LaQuetta D. Brand