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Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 139:1’

I wonder if you have ever played that game in an airport arrivals area of deciding who is waiting for whom and what the reason is for the traveller’s visit? It’s fun to try to work out such things, isn’t it, from what people look like and how they are reacting?

Or perhaps, like me, you enjoy letting your imagination run riot as you concoct an entire scenario about something you know nothing about. Recently, while my husband and I were out driving, we saw two people scurrying across a main road, laden down with luggage. When my husband wondered aloud where they might be heading, I immediately came up with a long, animated, involved explanation.

‘I get the picture. This could go on forever—no wonder you write novels!’ he eventually yelled.

And it would be hard to forget the eccentric looking, older Asian gentleman we saw standing with his little dog on a small traffic island at a busy intersection on Christmas Day and waving a big sign. On one side of this sign was a wish for peace for all at Christmas—but on the other an angry message maligning some people in authority. You can imagine the fun I had, making up a veritable trilogy about this particular character!

Now I have been taught it is usually unwise to include lots of back story at the beginning of a novel. Readers don’t have to know everything at once. Much better to provide little glimpses of past history or events naturally as the story unfolds—and then only what is needed. In my earlier novels, I couldn’t resist immediately sharing all there was to know about my main characters. After all, I was trained as a teacher to take students from the known to the unknown and to make sure they understood things well, before moving on. These days, I try to let those juicy bits of back story pop out only where necessary. But it’s still a battle. You see, I love my characters and want to make sure my readers understand why they act in a certain way. My characters become like family to me—‘real’ people I have created and hopefully brought to life in my book. And I feel responsible for them.

Often as I reflect on this, however, my mind turns to my own Creator. There is no doubt God knows all about me, including my entire ‘back story’. Psalm 139:1 states simply:

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.

We see in the Gospels this is also true of Jesus. In calling his first disciples, he didn’t need Philip to tell him anything about Nathaniel (John 2:43-49).  He already knew him and could see what was in his heart. Jesus knew everything about the Samaritan woman he met at the well without her saying a word (John 4). He was also quite aware Judas was the one who would betray him (John 13:21-28). And Jesus knows everything about me too—back story, thoughts, plans, the lot. Yet, just as he did with Peter after the disciple’s drastic denial of his Lord, Jesus forgives me, loves me, accepts me, ‘reinstates’ me and promises to be with me forever.

Jesus understands perfectly this business of back story. And I’m so thankful for that.

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It’s fun, isn’t it, waiting to meet someone you’ve met only via email? Will they look anything like you thought they would? Will they be younger or older? Will the personalities you suspect they have from the way they write be reflected in their faces?

Recently, I had the privilege of reading fifty pages written by three female authors before we met at a Writers’ Fair. They wrote in vastly different styles, which soon had me trying to picture what each of them might be like. Their personal emails gave me a bit more of a clue, but there was still plenty of scope for my imagination.

When we finally met, however, none of them was quite like I had imagined. One was very quiet and shy. Another was much more friendly and outgoing than I had expected. And the third seemed an interesting mixture of nervousness and self-confidence, but again nothing like I had imagined.

On the same weekend, I also met various other authors I had previously ‘known’ only via Facebook or blogs. What fun it was to be able to recognise them by their photos! Yet even then some tricked us. Some had changed their hairstyle, while others looked much younger than I had anticipated. And some were warm and outgoing, while others were a little more reticent.

With the authors whose writing had previously been sent to me, I did have some opportunity to get to know them as we worked together for one whole day. Yet despite that, I still knew so little about them and what they really felt about the various changes I had suggested for their work. As for my Facebook and blog ‘friends’, while we did work out who was who, we had little time to get to know them better. There is more substance to those photos I now see again on the net, but still so much to learn about each of them.

As I reflected on these experiences, I was reminded of a verse I had recently read in 1 Corinthians:

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (13:12)

Right now, there is so much we fail to understand about this world and in particular about God. Yes, now we can know God through the Scriptures, through listening prayer, through our experiences, through other people, through observing nature – but all of this is still merely a mirror that is able to reflect only a part of the whole glory of who God is. One day, however, we will see the real thing. One day we will see God face to face – and be totally overwhelmed in the process.

Yet while we see only ‘through a glass darkly’, even now God knows us fully, Paul tells us. God does not have to wonder what we will look like or what our personalities will be like. God already knows us perfectly through and through, as Psalm 139:1 says. How wonderfully liberating and life-giving that is! I don’t have to pretend anything to God. I know I am loved and accepted and totally understood. God will not be surprised at anything about me or anything I do – it is all already known.

I loved meeting my author friends in the flesh for the very first time. But what a day it will be when I meet God face to face at last! Then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

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