NOTE: For the video version of this post, click here.
How Well Do You Know Yourself?
Do you know yourself? How extensive is your knowledge of who you are? And what you are? What kind of person you are? Could you do a good job summarizing your life?
The answer is, of course not. Right now, you’re experiencing only one tiny sliver of your existence—the sliver existing in April of 2022. How similar are you now to what you were at age ten?
That ten-year-old was definitely you. Same person. But how different are you now from what you were then? There’s not a single cell from your ten-year-old body that still exists today.
And your personality—no doubt some traits from then still exist today. But isn’t there a whole lot about you that’s very different now? In many ways, you have more in common with another person your age than you do with your earlier self.
And how much of your earlier self do you even remember? A few snapshots here and there, but the vast majority of the moments in your past life are long forgotten.
How about your future self? What sort of person will you be twenty years from now?
God’s Knowledge of You
Think of your life like a stream winding through some mountains. Each moment in your life is like a boat somewhere on that stream. And none of the boats can see any of the others around the bend.
Now think of God sitting on top of the mountain, viewing all the boats at the same time. He sees the five-year-old you and the ninety-year-old you just as clearly as the present day you.
In Psalm 139, David rejoices in being deeply and thoroughly known by God.
Psalm 139:13 You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. … 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.
And not only does God know my past and future, he’s deeply attentive to me in the present.
Psalm 139:1 O LORD, you have searched me 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 know it completely, O LORD. 5 You hem me in– behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
The version of me I know the best is the one that exists right now. But even that version, God knows far more deeply than I do. He knows my thoughts before I have them. And when I don’t understand my own thoughts or motives, he does. He knows exactly where a wild hair came from.
And wherever I go next, God will already be there.
Psalm 139:7 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.
The word translated “presence” is the Hebrew word for “face.” The point here isn’t just that God exists everywhere, like some kind of expansive gas. The point is wherever I go, God will be there turning his face toward me. Revealing himself to me and showing me his favor.
God doesn’t just know the version of you that will exist in 2040. He will be there turning his face toward that future you, laying his hand on your shoulder and guiding you.
And that’s true even if you die in 2025. If you’re one of his children, even in the deepest darkness—the darkness of the grave, he is with you. His hand will be on you. Like when the little girl died in Mark 5 and Jesus took her hand in his and said, “Talitha koum.” Koum means “get up.” Talitha was a term of endearment that a parent would use when waking a child from sleep. “Wake up sweetie, it’s time to get up.” That’s what Jesus said to this dead girl. He took her hand and said, “Time to wake up sweetie.”
He’ll do that with you someday.
But when he does it for you, it won’t be like he did with that girl. She woke up in her old body. When Jesus wakes you up, you’ll find yourself in a new, incorruptible, eternal, glorified body.
And your relationship with God will be something beyond anything you ever imagined.
1 John 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
Which Version of You Is the Real You?
When God looks down at the river of your existence from that mountaintop, and he sees all the boats at each point, which one is the real you? Those versions of you are so different, which one matters most?
We always think it’s the one right now. Who are you? You’re the person sitting there right now reading this blog post.
But is that the version of you that defines you? That matters most to God? No. The real you isn’t the version of you that was a single cell in your mother’s womb. The most important you isn’t the version that was running around in diapers at age two. Nor is it the version in spring of 2022.
The real you is the one that takes up the vast majority of that meandering stream. From your birth to your death is just the headwaters of that stream. The real you is the long, unending river after the resurrection. When God thinks of you, that’s the you he thinks of most. That’s what defines who you really are.
And that version of you is so thoroughly pleasing and delightful to God, he smiles on you even now.
No wonder David had to pause in this psalm and say …
Psalm 139:6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.