Summary: A sermon about the love of God for humanity.
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
“Who Am I?”
Recently, I was speaking with a man who is now reaching his late 80’s.
He said an interesting thing, “When I was young, I didn’t know much about life or the meaning of life.
And now that my life is coming to an end I really don’t know any more than I ever did.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a poem shortly before his execution by the Nazis.
It is entitled, “Who Am I?”
“Who am I?” Bonhoeffer writes, “They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, thou knowest, O [God], I am thine.”
At the opposite end of the spectrum, some of the saddest words were spoken by a man at his father’s grave, “He had all the wrong dreams, all wrong. He never knew who he was.”
The question of identity…of “Who am I?” is one of the urgent questions of our time.
And it’s not only teenagers who struggle with a sense of identity.
It’s also the parent whose children are all away from the home for the first time.
And it’s the retiree who has nowhere to go in the morning.
It is also the wife or husband whose spouse has died.
One way or another, at one time or another, we all ask: “Who am I? What is the meaning of my life?”
Psalm 139 informs us that even we, who don’t know who we are, are nevertheless fully known and eternally loved by the Lord Who has “created [our] innermost parts…"
…knitted us “together while [we were] still in [our] mother’s womb…
…and Whose “eyes saw [our] embryo [s}”!
We belong to God, “body and soul, in life and death.”
Psalm 139 invites us to receive an identity rooted not in the things we might say about ourselves or the labels that others assign us, but in the God Who knows us more deeply and more lovingly than we could ever know ourselves!!!
How awesome is that?
The Psalmist insists that whether we are aware of God or not, we are known completely by God, and that before we know or name God, God knows and names us!!!
In Jeremiah 1:5 the Lord proclaims, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”
Our knowledge of God comes from God’s knowledge and self-revelation to us.
And we are invited to trust the God Whose grace encompasses us in ways that are beyond our ability to fully understand.
I was having a conversation with my mom over the Christmas holidays.
You see, my mom’s mom died when my mother was just 5 or 6 years old.
And my mom’s dad died a year later.
I said to my mother, “I know you had a very difficult childhood. How did you cope?”
Her answer was one of surprise.
She said, “I don’t think my childhood was difficult. I always felt that we were in the hands of grace.”
And aren’t we all?
The Psalmist writes: “Lord, you have examined me.
You know me…
…You are thoroughly familiar with all my ways.”
For some, this kind of inside knowledge may be a bit threatening.
After-all, as Americans we revere our privacy, do we not?
If we decide to build a patio in our backyard, we make sure and plant trees that will protect us from the “spying eyes” of our neighbors.
We don’t want others to know what we are up to.
We want our privacy protected at all costs!
And when someone infringes on our privacy, we are enraged!!!
If we fall victim to identity theft, we feel that our privacy has been deeply violated.
We guard the information about ourselves, and share only what we must.
We go to great lengths not to reveal to others who we really are, sometimes even to our closest friends and family members.
And if something that was meant to stay hidden is disclosed, our entire world can come crumbling down!!!
Think of the scrutiny that politicians undergo, and how fast and hard they fall when something “unacceptable” about them is revealed.
Or how about Christian ministers?
Not long ago, a colleague of mine invited a minister who had lost his credentials over some scandal to come and fill-in for him.
To preach on a Sunday morning.
I asked my colleague how things went and he answered, “Really good. I think it was good for him, it was a chance for him to regain some of the dignity he has lost.
It was an opportunity for us to show him grace.
Because he is in a place where so many of us are.”
And isn’t that what the world needs so much more of?...GRACE!
One reason people try and hide parts of themselves is because they fear un-grace!!!