For the leader. A psalm of David.
LORD, You have probed me, You know me:
You know when I sit and stand; You understand my thoughts from afar. You sift through my travels and my rest; with all my ways You are familiar. Even before a word is on my tongue, LORD, you know it all. Behind and before You encircle me and rest Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful or me, far too lofty for me to reach, where can I go from Your spirit? From Your Presence, where can I flee? If I ascend to the heavens, You are there; if I lie down in Sheol, there You are. If I take the wings of dawn and dwell beyond the sea, even there Your hand guides me, Your right hand holds me fast. If I say, “Surely darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light”—Darkness is not dark for You, and night shines as the day. Darkness and light are but one. You formed my inmost being; You knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise You, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works! My very self You know. My bones are not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me unformed; in Your book all are written down. My days were shaped, before one came to be. How precious to me are Your designs, O God; how vast the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the sands; when I complete them, still You are with me. When You would destroy the wicked, O God, the bloodthirsty depart from me! Your foes who conspire a plot against You are exalted in vain. Do I not hate, LORD, those who hate You? Those who rise against You, do I not loathe? With fierce hatred I hate them, enemies I count as my own. Probe me, God, know my heart; try me, know my thoughts. See if there is a wicked path in me; lead me along an ancient path.
Do you have a friend who knows you so well that as soon as you say, “Hello” she can pick up on the nuances in your voice and know how your day is going? Or she knows when you are trying to not share something just by the hesitation in your manner? In many ways, friendship like this is comforting. How much more comforting is it to know that our Lord knows us that well and so much better? He knew us before we were born! Before we were even formed in our mother’s womb, God knew all our days! He is omnipresent and knows how it will all turn out as long as we trust in Him. What a comforting thought!
In the same breath, what a disturbing thought! God knows ALL my thoughts – even the not-so-nice ones that seem to creep into my mind. How well am I doing at keeping those thoughts at bay – or at least sending them packing before they try to take up residence?
The wonderful thing about this fine line between comforting and uncomfortable is that God loves me no matter what! He still is present when I fall away. I may not feel Him close, but it isn’t God who has moved. No, the psalmist says the exact opposite. Even when I fail at following Him, He is with me. He is everywhere. All I need to do is accept His Grace and Mercy and fall back into His arms. He loves me no matter what. I am FEARFULLY and WONDERFULLY made. He didn’t make a mistake when He made me. I am not an “oops” that He wants to pretend didn’t happen, and as long as I stay prayerfully close to Him and open to His will for my life, His plans for my life are VAST, bigger and better than my human mind can imagine. I am still trying to embrace His plan and His love every day. Even more so, I am trying to teach our children the truth of God’s love and mercy.
The Catholic Church gives us a great way to fully come back to Christ in the sacrament of Reconciliation. The fullness of peace that I feel after confession has no comparison. As we approach the season of Lent this year, my plan is to use Psalm 139 as an examination of conscience when I go to confession. Each line can help me see where I am trying to flee from the Lord’s Presence, where I may have a wicked path in me. I can see where I am too comfortable and where I am too uncomfortable. I can bring these places in my life to confession to have a clear slate as we head into Lent and as we reflect during Lent. I can feel the Lord at work in my life as I read this Psalm.
Lord, Thank You for Your words. Thank You for Your love, Your mercy, Your forgiveness and Your acceptance of us. Thank You that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Thank You for Your gift of the sacraments, especially the sacrament of reconciliation. Thank You, dear Lord, thank You. Amen.