“It is an absolute human certainty,” wrote John Joseph Powell in his book, The Secret of Staying in Love, “that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.”
To know, and to be known, is the greatest feeling you and I can ever have.
It is the secret of the truly satisfying life – the key that unlocks all our longings, the assurance of our embrace and acceptance, the heart and soul of our identity.
Nothing saddens us more than the sense that no one knows us – the isolation, loneliness and despair of being alone, even when we’re not.
Nothing gives us more hope and confidence and sheer joy than knowing, at the end of each day, that there is at least one other who understands us and loves us for who we are – and in spite of what we’re not.
Here is the essence of love without condition – to know and to still love. It is not to overlook, as is often thought, but rather to see clearly and honestly and then to love. It is not the denial of reality but the triumph of the heart.
In the most beautiful description of love ever penned, Paul the apostle tells us of a love greater than mere sentiment. He writes not of a pliable emotion but an enduring commitment. Not an easy ignorance but a knowing loyalty.
This is muscular devotion that knows and presses on:
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (I Corinthians 13:4-7, NKJV).
“Love never gives up … “(NLT).
This is not the shallow sensuous nonsense of Reality TV, with its flittering suitors. It is the ancient sacred vows.
Vows that acknowledge the hidden challenges of an unknown future and the inspired love strong enough to endure them – and deep enough to grow through them.
A love that fails not but bears out the victory.
This is agape. This is God’s love.
This love is based on two eternal and immutable, yet seemingly contradictory, truths:
God’s intimate knowledge and his undying compassion.
David knew God knew him – inside out, to every dark corner – and loved him still. David knew too that God loved him the most when he deserved it the least.
From this awareness of divine intimacy, the shepherd psalmist who became king wrote the incomparable 139th Psalm. Has there ever been a more beautiful description of God’s continual presence and abiding faithfulness?
“O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me,” David confesses in verse one. The psalmist proceeds to tell of all the different times and situations in which God knew, understood and cared.
“You know everything about me” (NLT).
God sees him when he moves and when he’s still; when he speaks and when he remains silent. God knows David’s innermost thoughts. God is everywhere: “You go before me and follow me” (Psalm 139:5, NLT).
He’s closer than David’s shadow.
David admits this divine knowledge of his intimacy is “too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!” (verse 6, NLT).
Everywhere David goes – every place he might go if he could – God is there.
“Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (verse 7, KJV).
To the heavens, God is there. To the grave, God is there. If David could fly with “the wings of the morning” to the farthest oceans, even there God is present, alert and fully engaged.
Even if David wanted to hide from God, he knows it would futile.
For David knows that wherever he goes, “even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (verse 10, KJV). It is the presence of God that protects and guides him.
After acknowledging the intimacy of God in time and space, David exults in praise over God’s creative intimacy.
“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (verse 14, KJV).
David describes the hidden knowledge of God; his exquisite detailed workmanship of body and soul. God had “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (verse 13, NLT).
David marvels at the beauty and perfection of the divine design. God saw David, and knew him intimately, even “when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth … and in thy book all my members were written” (verse 15, KJV).
“… as if embroidered with various colors” (The Amplified Bible).
David’s own worth is reflected in the glorious mirror of God’s intimate knowledge of him and of God’s care and compassion – his endless and unchanging agape.
“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!” (verse 17, NLT).
The best thing of all?
“And when I wake up, you are still with me!” (verse 18, NLT).
How wonderful to know that the God who knew and loved David so intimately is our own intimate God.