Known by God: The Foundation for Identity and Personhood

May 29, 2022 ()

Bible Text: Psalm 139 |


Known by God: The Foundation for Identity and Personhood | Psalm 139
Brian Hedges | May 29, 2022

Let me invite us all to turn in our Bibles this morning to turn to Psalm 139.

As you’re turning there, let me remind you of something that we all did as children: we played hide-and-seek. I think that’s probably a universal game; I think almost all kids play the game hide-and-seek at some point in their lives. We loved that game as children because we loved the thrill of the chase, we loved the thrill of hiding, and even the thrill of being found. I think in some ways the worst thing that can happen to a kid playing hide-and-seek is to never be found, to be the kid that’s left in the closet, forgotten, and nobody comes looking for you.

I think in some ways that game is a picture of life. We long to be known, to be recognized, to be noticed, and yet we hide. We hide from others, we hide from God, because we also fear to be found out and to be really known as we are. And yet, nothing is more unbearable than being totally unknown, totally unknown, anonymous, forgotten.

Ever since Adam and Eve hid from God in the Garden of Eden, the human race has been playing hide-and-seek with God and with one another, and the same is true for us today. I would suggest to you that many of our issues with identity come down to this, the desire to be known, to be recognized, to not remain hidden and unknown. The problem—this is especially true in a culture where personal identity is something which each person constructs for himself or herself—the problem is that the very fluidity of our sense of identity can become confusing and sometimes even a crushing burden.

For example, there’s a young woman named Dove Cameron who is a popular singer and an actress in some of Disney’s things, including the Descendants film series. In a recent post on Instagram (you don’t have to try to read all this, I’ll just read you a summarizing statement from the very long post), she said, “I’ve been crying a lot lately, sometimes terrorized by my identity and image, sometimes in absolute flow with something new and peripheral and joyous to me. I don’t know if I’ve ever slowed down enough to learn who I am outside of fight, flight, or freeze. But the self finds ways of showing up anyway, trickling in enough to hint at who we might be if we didn’t feel we had to be everything but the self.”

I think that’s an interesting post that illustrates an aspect of this identity crisis that many people, and especially young people, in our culture are facing. In a world of constant social media, where we are constantly streaming our lives before others, eagerly waiting to see how many “likes” we get, our sense of self is not only fluid, but it’s fragile.

Who are we, really? Who am I? Who are you? How would you answer that question? Do you have a stable and a strong and an enduring sense of self, of who you are? That’s what we’re talking about in this series on identity crisis.

We began in Genesis 1-2 looking at a biblical basis for identity, as human beings who are created in the image of God.

Last week we looked at identity and idolatry, and how the idols that we worship when we put the creation above the Creator, those idols shape and form our identities and actually undo us and destroy us. It’s only as we turn from idols to serve the living and the true God that we are renewed in the divine image and really become the people God created us to be.

I think often in our lives we seek to get a sense of identity from peripheral things. That’s how these idols work. David Powlison is a wonderful author; I recommend that everybody read Powlison. He was a biblical counselor and just went to be with the Lord a few years ago. In a very short article on identity he talks about the ways we get identity wrong. Let me read this, and test yourself here. See if these are some of the ways that you tend to form your sense of self.

“Perhaps you construct a self by the roles and accomplishments listed on your resume. You might identify yourself by your lineage or ethnicity, by your job history or the schools you attended, by your marital status or parental role. Perhaps you define who you are by your political leanings or the objects of your sexual longings. Maybe you consider yourself to be summed up in a Myers-Briggs category or a psychiatric diagnosis. Your sense of self might be based on money or your lack thereof; on achievement or failures; on the approval of others or their rejection; or your self-esteem or self-hatred. Perhaps you think that your sins define you—an angry man, an addict, an anxious people-pleaser. Perhaps afflictions define you—disability, cancer, divorce. Even your Christian identity might anchor in something that is not God—Bible knowledge, giftedness, or the church denomination to which you belong. In each case, your sense of identity comes unglued from the God who actually defines you.”

That’s our problem. That’s the fundamental problem. Our sense of identity becomes unglued from God, who is the one who actually defines who we are, God who is our Creator.

This morning in Psalm 139 I want us to think about identity in relationship to the God who made us, the God who knows us. John Stott calls Psalm 139 “perhaps the most radically personal statement in the Old Testament of God’s relationship to the individual believer.” We’re going to be looking at the first three fourths or so of the psalm; we don’t have time to go through all of it. I want to point out four things, and I’ll give you the point and then read the verses that I’m drawing from—four things that I think will help us if we will take them to heart, help us with our sense of who we are, understanding ourselves, understanding our identity in the light of God.

1. God Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself

Point number one is this: God knows you better than you know yourself. Or you could say it in the first person: God knows me better than I know myself. We see this in verses 1-6, which reflect on the exhaustive and limitless knowledge of God. Listen to how the psalmist describes this. He says,

“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.”

This is talking about what theologians call the omniscience of God. That’s a big word, omniscience of God. Omni is the word “all,” science [has to do with] knowledge, so “omniscience” simply means that God knows everything, the all-knowingness of God. But for the psalmist, this is not merely a theological truth, it is a deeply personal and intimate truth. It’s not merely that God theoretically knows everything, but it’s that God personally knows me. “O Lord, you have searched me and known me.”

He knows me down to the most mundane details of my life. Verse 2, “You know when I sit down and when I rise up.”

Think about this for a minute. Just think about today. Do you know how many times you have sat down and stood up just today? I’ll bet you’d have a hard time counting. But God knows this, and he knows it every day. He knows it of every person, and he knows it of all the days of our lives. As other Scriptures tell us, he knows the very hairs of our head. Those hairs are numbered. He knows the mundane details of our lives.

He also knows the most inward, the most intimate, personal details of our lives. He knows our thoughts (verse 2). “You discern my thoughts from afar.” Before you think your thoughts, God knows your thoughts. There are times in our lives where we actually have a hard time articulating our thoughts. We don’t know quite what we think. Some people are external processors, which means they learn what they think by talking it out with others. Some of you are smiling because this is exactly how you are. You figure out what you think as you express those thoughts in conversation.

Some of us have multiple thoughts going on in our heads at once, and that’s often the case for me. There are so many jarring thoughts going on in my head, sometimes I have to take pen to paper and write things down to just get clarity on what’s going on in my inner world.

But God knows our thoughts. God says to Israel in Ezekiel 11:5, “I know the things that come into your mind.”

Not only that, he knows our words. Verse 4, “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.” Then he knows our paths and our ways, the paths we walk and the characteristic ways of our lives, the ways in which we behave and interact, the intricacies of our personalities and our temperaments. He knows these things.

I was recently at a dinner with a number of friends, and we were doing kind of an icebreaker exercise to get to know one another, and one of the questions was, “Share something about your spouse that only you would know.” It was really interesting, as people were sharing these quirky little things about their spouses, and we all got to know one another a little bit better, because these were the kinds of things that you don’t normally know about somebody until someone that knows them well brings it out.

But God knows all of those things. He knows the quirks of your personality. He knows your temperament, he knows you, and he knows you through and through. The psalmist says, “You are acquainted with all my ways.”

Now, when we think about this, there are several ways we might respond to it, several ways we might feel when we think about God’s exhaustive and intimate knowledge of our lives. You might feel threatened by this, as if God is something like Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984, this all-seeing eye who’s always watching. You may not like that. You may not want to feel like God is always watching, that God scrutinizes you, that God knows you through and through.

On the other hand, you may find this knowledge of God extremely comforting, to know that God knows you and he knows the deepest burdens, the deepest trials, the deepest sorrows of your heart and your life, that he knows you better than you know yourself. You might find that to be a deeply comforting and helpful truth.

Probably most of us feel a mixture of both responses, and you can actually see a bit of both in verses 5-6. The psalmist says, “You hem me in, behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” It’s the imagery of being surrounded by God, arrested by God. It means there’s no escape from God. But then look at what he says in verse 6. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” It’s too wonderful for me! When he says wonderful, he means it provokes wonder, it provokes awe, it provokes this sense of awe before the face of God, that God knows me.

You need to know this morning that this is the most important thing about you, that God knows you. He knows you through and through.

J.I. Packer, in his famous book Knowing God, says, “What matters supremely is not in the last analysis the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it, the fact that he knows me. I am never out of his mind. All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him because he first knew me and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me, and there is not a moment when his eye is off me or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters.”

God knows you this morning. He knows you better than you know yourself. If you take nothing else away from this message, take heart in this, that God knows; he sees you, and he knows you.

2. You Cannot Hide Yourself from God

This means, secondly, that you cannot hide yourself from God. This is the second truth. You can’t hide yourself from God. You see it in verses 7-12, which take this a step further. The psalmist teaches us that we are not only known by God, but we are surrounded by God. He not only knows us on the inside, but he surrounds us, engulfs us, is always present with us. Look at verse 7.

“Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!”

If you go high, you go low, God is there.

“If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea [that’s a Hebrew idiom for the east or the west],
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,’
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.”

You go high or low, go to the east or the west, in darkness or in the light—whatever the circumstance, whatever the environment, God is there. He knows you, he sees you, and you cannot hide yourself from him.

Once again, this can be threatening to us if we feel that we have something to hide from God, but it can also be a deep source of assurance and comfort.

I think many of the identity issues that people have come from feeling invisible to others. There are a lot of reasons for this—for example, neglect in one of the primal relationships of our lives, when children are neglected by their parents, or when a husband or wife is neglected by a spouse. They begin to feel invisible, like they are unnoticed, uncared for, forgotten. This is especially true with abuse in relationships.

We also see this on the professional level, when at work, on the job, your opinions are not heard or taken seriously.

One psychologist says, “We feel invisible when the people around us do not validate our identity, but ignore it, pushing us aside and excluding us from making important decisions.”

This passage tells us that you’re never invisible to God; that God sees and knows the real you. He knows you, he is present with you, he never forgets you.

One of the best biblical illustrations of this is the story of Hagar in Genesis 16. You remember this story? Hagar was a slave. She was the slave of Abram and Sarai; we know them better by their new names, Abraham and Sarah. You remember that God had made this promise to Abraham, “I’m going to give you a son, and through you and through your descendents all the nations of the earth will be blessed.”

The years go by and Abraham hasn’t had a son yet, and finally his wife, Sarah, comes up with this brilliant idea, she thinks. “I’ll let you go into my slave girl, to this woman. She’ll become your concubine, and she will bear a child for you in my place.”

Abraham agrees to the plan; Hagar becomes pregnant; and immediately there’s this tension now in the household, this tension between Hagar and Sarah. Sarah begins to mistreat Hagar even more, so much so that Hagar runs away, and she runs off into the wilderness, and there she is about to die of thirst, and God comes to her. God meets her. God shows her a well, sustains her thirst, and sends her back to the household of Abraham, but with the promise of a blessing. After this happens, this is what Hagar says. I’ll read to you Genesis 26:13-14. “She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me.’”

I love the way the old King James put it: “Thou, God, seest me.” “For she said, ‘I have now seen the one who sees me.’ That is why the well was called Beer-lahai-roi, which means, ‘The well of him who lives and sees me.’”

God sees you! He sees you! However forgotten you may feel, however invisible to others, however mistreated, downtrodden in this world, God sees.

I think another application from both of these first two points, both God’s knowledge of you and God’s presence with you, is an application to our understanding of identity, that we understand ourselves in relationship to how God knows and sees us. You may remember this diagram from the first week in the series, where we saw the two circles.

The first circle (the blue circle, the larger circle) is a circle that deals with our objective identity; that is, what we are in our human nature. It answers the question, “What am I?” But the smaller circle, the green circle, deals with the subjective aspect of who we are; it answers the question, “Who am I?” It’s really only when the smaller circle corresponds with the larger circle that we have a truly biblical understanding of ourselves. We have to have a self-understanding that corresponds with our human nature.

I think these two circles could be used in another way, and I want to put some different words in this now. I’m borrowing from Carl Trueman’s book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, as Truman interacts with a sociologist named Philip Rieff, who used the concepts of sacred order and social order to explain what has happened in our culture. Sacred order, the bigger circle, has to do with our understanding of the transcendent realities in the world, and the social order, the narrower circle, has to do with our understanding of morality and ethics on the horizontal level.

Rieff argues that a culture is essentially defined by the things that it allows and forbids and how it communicates those things. You know the essence of a culture, its social order, by what it says is okay to do and not okay to do, and how it communicates that through art and politics and law and so on. Rieff argues that up until very recently, every society’s social order was grounded in something bigger than itself, a sacred order, something transcendent and foundational.

This is true even in pagan societies, even in pre-Christian societies. In the ancient world, before people came to know Jesus Christ, they still had a sense of morality that was based on something above and beyond themselves. They would think about the gods and what the gods desired, or they had a mythology. In some ways, in their own understanding, their ethics, their morality, their behaviors were shaped and formed by this understanding of a world beyond them.

But Rieff argues that we now live in a culture that has abandoned the notion of a sacred order altogether, so that there’s no grounding for our ethics or morality outside of ourselves. When this happens, when the sacred order is eclipsed by the social order, when the objective, transcendent reality of a world made by God, when that is eclipsed only by what we think of ourselves on the basis of ourselves, with no appeal to something higher and greater than ourselves—when that happens, moral and ethical choices are no longer based on anything sacred, but instead on personal and pragmatic concerns.

When we apply this to the issue of identity, the sacred order tells us that God is our Creator, that he is our lawgiver, that he made all things, that he rules all things, that he made you, that he made me. The social order then tells me who I am, a creature, an image-bearer of God, a morally accountable person. But take that away, as secularism has—say with Nietzsche that God is dead—and we are left with a social order that has no grounding in anything sacred and morals become a matter of personal preference and pragmatic convenience.

This psalm, Psalm 139, grounds our understanding of who we are, and therefore the whole social order, in the sacred order of who God is—the God who knows us, the God who made us.

3. You Are Uniquely Created by God

That leads us to verses 13-18 and the third point in this sermon. Not only does God know you better than you know yourself, not only can you not hide from him, but number three, you are uniquely made by God, created by God. Look at verse 13.

“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”

Now, the psalmist there is using very metaphorical language, language about forming and shaping like a potter shapes and forms clay, or knitting and weaving together the way a weaver weaves together a fabric, or a book, which someone writes down the details of a book. But he’s using these metaphors to say that God uniquely created you, he designed you, even down to the details of your life.

He knows, in fact, the entirety of your life. “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me.” He uniquely made you; he uniquely created you.

There’s a continuity in the “you,” the person you are, a continuity from being conceived in the womb all the way through the rest of your life—it’s the same you.

This obviously has implications, doesn’t it, for another very current and pressing cultural issue, the sanctity of human life, our understanding of human life and of personhood, and all the debates about abortion. This, of course, is on our minds right now, as we know from the recent leak about the Supreme Court that Roe v. Wade is being reconsidered; we’re waiting for that final opinion here in the next few weeks. So people are debating this again.

I think when we consider this issue we have to once again try to ground our thinking in the Scriptures, and we have to ground our understanding of the ethics of abortion and what it means to be a human person in the sacred order of who God is and how God created us to be.

Carl Trueman says, “Debates about abortion today are typically not focused on the question of when life starts, rather they are debates about when personhood begins. Abortion is an act that can be deemed routinely acceptable only in a world that has repudiated any transcendent framework in favor of the individual preferences of the immediate present.”

One way we see this is the way in which pro-choice advocates try to argue for the morality of abortion, and they do so by arguing that an unborn child, a fetus, to use their terminology, is not actually a person. How would they say this? Why would they say something like this?

Well, one advocate, an American philosopher named Mary Ann Warren, wrote a well-known article trying to defend the public policy that condones unrestricted abortion, and she basically argues that fetuses are not persons because “a person can only be defined by a list of capacities,” characteristics, attributes, such as consciousness, self-awareness, the ability to reason and to communicate. She says that fetuses lack all of these things, and so she writes (and I quote), “I consider this claim to be so obvious that I think anyone who denied it and claimed that a fetus was a person all the same would thereby demonstrate that he had no notion at all of what a person is.”

That’s the argument. “Since they’re not persons, to take the life is not equivalent to taking a person’s life, and therefore it is not murder.”

What would we say in response to that? We might argue about the list of attributes that she says determine personhood, and also argue about whether those claims are even true, because there are both medical professionals as well as philosophers who believe that the unborn child has consciousness early in the gestation process. Even one atheist philosopher argues that fetuses have consciousness by around the 18th week of conception.

But beyond that, we just need to say this to really bring a conclusion to the argument. To argue that personhood is based on capacities such as the ability to communicate or the ability to reason things out or self-consciousness, those kinds of things, it actually argues way too much, it proves too much. If that is true, then the argument would also apply to all kinds of people who have life who are outside the womb, including the newborn infant, including the aging person who is struggling with dementia, including a host of people who struggle with some kind of disability or another. Therefore the logical conclusion would be—and this is the conclusion of the philosophers who are the furthest left on this issue, such as Peter Singer—their conclusion is that even killing an infant would not be equated to killing a person, because an infant is not a person.

I don’t think you have to be a Christian to know that that view is absolutely inhumane.

The problem with all of this is that we are trying to define personhood without recourse to the sacred order, without remembering that who we are is defined not by our capacities, not by our abilities, not by any of those subjective things; but who we are is defined by the God who made us and who made us with the capacity to be known and to be loved by him. That’s the most fundamental thing about our existence: our unique relationship to God as his creatures and as his image-bearers.

One more quotation now from John Stott. In his excellent book Issues Facing Christians Today he argues from Psalm 139 for the continuity of personhood for the psalmist. His past, his present, his future, the prenatal stage in verse 13—in all of these he refers to himself as an “I”. Stott then notes this: “Modern medical science appears to confirm this biblical teaching. It was only in the 1960s that the genetic code started to be unraveled. Now we know that the moment the ovum is fertilized by the penetration of the sperm the 23 pairs of chromosomes are complete, the zygote has a unique genotype which is distinct from both parents, and the child’s sex, size and shape, color of skin, hair and eyes, temperament, and intelligence are already determined.”

In other words, as soon as a child is conceived, there’s a person there, unique, created in the image of God. Someone who has an identity even before the sense of self is fully formed, but a person who is known, who is recognized, who is loved, and who is created by God. You were made by God, created by God uniquely.

Listen, this has implications for us beyond even just the issue of the sanctity of human life, as important as that is. Even when we think about these issues of personal identity, we have to define ourselves not by our capacities, not by our abilities, but we define ourselves by who we are as creatures who are made in the image of God. If you ever struggle with feelings of worthlessness or insignificance, maybe even self-loathing—why do we struggle with those things? I struggle with those things; probably you do too. When I do, it’s because I’m defining who I am on the basis of what I do and how well I’m doing it. I’m looking at the externals instead of looking to God my Creator, to that most fundamental, intimate, personal relationship with him.

What we need is to ground our understanding of who we are in the sacred order of who God is and who he therefore made us to be.

God knows you; he knows you better than you know yourself. You cannot hide yourself from God. He uniquely made you.

4. God Loves You with an Immeasurable, Covenantal, Saving Love

Number four (this is the last point), God also loves you with an immeasurable, covenantal, saving love.

You see this especially in verses 17-18, although I think it’s implicit throughout the psalm. In verses 17-18 David says,

“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.”

Having thought now about God’s comprehensive knowledge of him, having thought about how God searches him and knows him and is always with him and he cannot flee from God, he cannot escape from God, he now finds great comfort in this. He says, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God,” and he considers the vastness of these thoughts, the immeasurable number of these thoughts.

It’s similar to Psalm 40:5, which says, “You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you.” His thoughts toward us are multiplied, they are immeasurable, they are great in number. He says they are more than the sand if I should try to count them.

This really hit me in a very personal way almost 20 years ago, and I think it was either the first or maybe the second time I ever visited Warren Dunes. I had just moved up here, I was working for Life Action Ministries, a parachurch ministry. I was 19 at the time; very reflective and introspective as a young Christian, contemplating God’s purpose for my life in that time. I remember going out to Warren Dunes one day. You have to remember, I’m a Texan. I mean, land-locked. I only saw the Pacific Ocean once before, never went to beaches or anything like that. So I was just kind of mesmerized by all the sand and the dunes.

I remember sitting there, playing in the sand, with handfuls of sand in my hands, and I remembered this verse, and I started thinking, I wonder how many grains of sand are just in my hand! There must have been 10,000—50,000—I don’t know—thousands of grains of sand, right there in my hand. And I’m thinking, God’s thoughts for me are more in number than the sand—more than handful after handful, dune after dune, beach after beach, continent after continent. That’s how immeasurable his thoughts are.

Do you know that God thinks of you like that? His thoughts for you are infinite in number. You cannot number them. This is the immeasurable love of God for us. God knows and loves you!

To be able to say that, “God knows me and I know him,” is like the ultimate name-drop. Have you ever been around people who are dropping names of famous people they’ve met? They’re showing you a picture of a famous celebrity they took a picture with, something like that. We derive a superficial significance, don’t we, a sense of significance when we’ve met someone famous or we have a close relationship with someone well-known.

Spurgeon tells a funny story about a man who boasted all of his life that he had met King George IV, and he had spoken to him once, and what he had said to him once, and what he had said was, “Get out of the road!” But that man still felt significant, because the king had spoken to him!

Well, it’s pretty silly how we find our significance in what mere mortals say to us or think of us when the God of the universe thinks of us with numberless thoughts, thoughts that are more vast than the sands of the sea.

His love is immeasurable; it’s also a covenantal love. That’s implied, I think, in the whole psalm, because it begins with the covenant name of God. “O Lord, you have searched me and known me.” Yahweh. This is the name that God reveals to his people, so for all who are in Christ, who are embraced in the covenant, his covenant love secures them.

Maybe there’s also a reference here, a hint of a reference, to God’s covenant with Abraham, when God told him to try to number the sands on the seashore, “and so your offspring will be.” It’s a covenant love.

Finally, it’s a saving love. In verse 18 he says, “I awake and I am still with you,” and perhaps what he means by that is just, “When I wake from sleep I’m still in your presence,” but Derek Kidner sees a reference to something far greater than that. He connects it to Psalm 17:15, which says, “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness. When I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.” This seems to be speaking about something more than just waking from sleep, but waking up in that final moment, resurrection, when we awake in the presence of God, and we see our God face to face.

Whatever the precise meaning here, I think we can say with certainty that our only safety is in being so deeply known and loved by God, in and through Jesus Christ, that in him we find our identity, our sense of self. In fact, this is what it means to find salvation in Christ. Did you know that in the New Testament knowing God through Jesus Christ, knowing him, is another way of describing salvation? John 17:3 says, “This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

Where is your identity this morning? What are you looking to in your life to give you a sense of who you are?

Let me close with this final exhortation from David Powlison. He says, “Your true identity is who God says you are. You will never discover who you are by looking inside yourself or listening to what others say. The Lord gets the first word because he made you; he gets the daily word because you live before his face; and he gets the last word because he will administer your final, comprehensive live review. Your identity does not rest on what others say of you, it does not rest on the externals of your life, it does not rest on your abilities, your capacity, your performance, your relationships. Your identity rests on the God who knows you, is present with you, and has loved you with an everlasting love through his Son, Jesus Christ.”

Do you know him? Do you trust him? Have you found your true identity in him? Look to him this morning. Let’s pray.

Father, we thank you this morning for your word. We thank you for the truth of your word that grounds our understanding of ourselves in the reality of who you are. We pray this morning that you would seal these truths deeply in our hearts, that you would help us to take to heart the thrilling and perhaps sometimes even the terrifying reality that you know us so well, you know us better than we know ourselves. Nothing is hidden from you.

It can frighten us when we think about the parts of our lives we’d rather not be known, but it’s also deeply comforting to us when we realize that though you know us, all the nasty, dark parts of us, you love us. So we thank you for it. We entrust ourselves to you this morning, we bring ourselves (all that we are) into your presence.

We confess our sins and ask you to forgive us, and we pray that as we come to the Lord’s table this morning that you would renew us by your grace, that you would speak to our hearts, and that you would help us by faith to feed on Jesus Christ, who is the true bread for our souls. So draw near to us in these moments of prayer and reflection and of worship. Be glorified, we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.