Emotional Health

Nothing Hidden

This devotional is written by Jenny Peters. Jenny Peters has been on the leadership team of St Mary's since it was re-opened in 2002. She trained as a child protection social worker and now runs Connected Lives, a charity that works to help relationships thrive.

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Reflection

As human beings we often think that we ought to hide part of ourselves from our parent, friend, partner or even child. As John Powell wrote '"Why am I afraid to tell you who I am? I am afraid to tell you who I am, because, if I tell you who I am, you may not like who I am, and it's all that I have..." So we hold back from revealing our true selves, feeling that this is the only way to secure love. In stark contrast, this psalm gives us a wonderful picture of being fully seen and fully loved. The Psalmist describes being searched and known (1). The writer delights in the fact that God knows his thoughts (2), his actions (3), even the words on the tip of his tongue (4). He is hemmed in (5) and this is good not scary (6). The Psalmist accepts that there is simply nowhere in the heavens or the earth where he can escape from God (7-12). The psalmist's response to all this is to be even more vulnerable with the God through issuing this invitation: ‘search me and know my heart' (23)

There is nothing hidden from God and this should embolden us not terrify us. When my children were younger they would play hide and seek, when they were really little they would not bother to physically hide, and would simply stand with their hands covering their eyes. They could not conceive of the idea that I could see them if they couldn't see me. I often think of this picture when I am struggling with not ‘coming clean' with God about something I've thought, done or said which I'm ashamed of. God already knows our most shameful moments and accepts, loves and transforms us when we turn to him. This is how we engage in the process of transformation in every area of our lives. As a white woman I have been challenged afresh by the events of the last few weeks to search my heart, to see where I've been part of the problem when it comes racism and injustice. Engaging in this process with God and one another is how we change and become transformed into the image of Jesus.

To respond re-read the Psalm as a prayer, bringing to God anything you have left hidden.

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