Have you ever had one of those moments when someone did something for you or said something to you that made you feel known?
I have been given several gifts in my life that may not have been the most expensive or the most practical, but they were some of my favorites because they let me know that the gift giver really knew me. For instance, one of my best friends moved away after freshman year of high school, yet on my birthday sophomore year I received a gift in the mail of daffodil bulbs. Daffodils are my favorite flower, and Liz knew that, so I got to plant those bulbs and watch them come up in the spring as a reminder of her friendship. Senior year, my friend Scott gave me a gigantic jar of pickles because I was always stealing them from friends at lunch. And somehow he fit that thing in my locker to catch me off guard in between classes.
More recently, a friend gave me a very pretty yellow serving bowl because she knows my love of hosting dinners and cooking. Eric, the good man that he is, didn’t get me flowers or chocolates for Valentines Day — he gifted me a new pair of Chacos since mine are starting to wear thin in the soles. (In fact, my previous pair was a college graduation gift from him since the pair I had before that was also wearing out in the soles.)
There is something that just speaks to my heart when I can see that friend has acted in accordance with something they know about me, whether the gesture is large or small. I simply love to feel truly known by those around me.
In college, when I was struggling with singleness one semester, I cried out to God letting Him know how much I just wanted someone to want to know everything about me. Someone to care how I was feeling and to ask how my day was, genuinely wanting the answer. God brought me to Psalm 139 and calmed my anxious heart by reminding me the He, in fact, did:
O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. [Psalm 139:1-6 ESV]
Of course, the downside to someone knowing you that well is that they also know all of your faults. I would say that Eric knows me so well that not only does he see my faults, but he is often not surprised when I mess up, because he knows my specific sinful tendencies and can see those woven throughout each mistake I make.
Yet he loves me anyway. And that means even more than someone loving me for only the good things they can see.
And, of course, this knowledge of our faults is also found fully in the same God who knows the wonderful things about us.
Because I know that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew and your forehead brass, I declared them to you from of old, before they came to pass I announced them to you, lest you should say, ‘My idol did them, my carved image and my metal image commanded them.’ [Isaiah 48:4-5]
God knew that His people had a tendency to ignore Him, even taking credit for His power. Yet that did not stop Him from working on their behalf – and one day bringing a Redeemer for that sin.
“For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” [Isaiah 48:9-11]
God knows every detail about you, and while He may allow you to walk through a “furnace of affliction” for a season, He does not abandon you due to your sin because He is at work to bring His name glory. You are part of His fame.
That last part – that ultimately it is about His fame – is essential to grasp in the concept of His love and forgiveness. The more you have been forgiven, the more you love the person who forgave you (Luke 7:36-50). As you recognize your need, the person who meets that need is more appreciated.
What needs has God met in your life? Where have you fallen short – and where have you seen God step in to meet you there? Have you given Him the credit?