The Grace in Who We Are

Psalm 139 is precious to me. If you’ve read it, you may have found a deep personal connection to it as well. Recently I’ve been turning something over in my mind when it comes to my identity, and that brought me back to this psalm.

Most of the time it’s not difficult to imagine the All-knowing God having knowledge and awareness of people and events. Omniscience seems easy to attribute to the One who made all things and rose from the dead, frankly. I’ve spent decades studying the Bible, and His power is written all over every page. The last twenty years have been full of gratefulness because I’ve grasped more of the incredible love Jesus offered to everyone at the cross.

But there’s a precious distinction between “knowing all things” and “knowing everything about me.” This is where it gets personal. In nineteen years of marriage, I see my husband has intimate knowledge of much of me. Compared to his knowledge, my Abba’s is overwhelmingly more detailed and deep!

1 You have searched me, LORD, 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…
 My husband is aware of my obvious movements in the house (when he’s in the same room) and he knows the events of my day (when I tell him the story). But God is perfectly aware of every detail in my day. Waking, breakfast, chauffeur trips, errands, lunch, online classes, writing projects, doctor appointments, and dinner. When I pull the sheets to my chin late at night, He knows that, too. What He sees is more than observing me as an actor on His stage, though. (I imagine this as the “with me” in Immanuel.)Ps. 139:1-3; 15-18
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. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you…

Long before I had conscious thought or memory—when cells were dividing at near instant speed—His eyes were watching. But He wasn’t a casual observer. My Abba Father was intimately involved in the process, creating and remembering every precious detail of His creation: my fuzzy black-brown hair, blue-green eyes, the birthmark on my right arm, and my ten fingers and toes. At the same time my whole lifespan lay before Him. He saw the cells dividing and new heart beating while intimately knowing the emotional highs and lows my brain would try to grasp, which toes would be broken, and the very last breath my lungs would draw. (Can you wrap your head around that? I sure struggle to!)

He knew I would live so many days trying to figure out who I was, who I was created to be, and why I existed. He waited, patient and excited, for the day I would pick up the colored pencils and discover what He’d always known—that, with Him, I can draw beautiful things. He knew I would be the thinker who wrestles with heady concepts in a “hack” sort of way, hopes to grasp who He is deeply, and lives in her head. Yeah, all that and the stuff I haven’t begun to discover about me.

He holds the key to my identity, and I get more clues to who I am every time I focus on who He is (revealing all the similarities and differences) or when I partner with Him in any of the amazing things He wants to accomplish in and through me. (Have you thought of how you partner with Him, too?)

So where do I land with Psalm 139?

With my Abba’s intimate knowledge of me, it only makes sense that I ask Him to show me who I am and how He’s wired the inner workings of my soul. Pairing that knowledge with His infinite wisdom is my only choice. He knows me, the entire timeline of my life, and the potential and purpose threaded through all of it.

Life with purpose. I want that, and He promised I could have it. But how do I “do” that kind of life?

I think David says it perfectly!

 23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

The psalm wraps up with godly wisdom. I’ll ask God to examine my heart and mind, to lead me in choices that are good, true, noble, and excellent—the most excellent! (Philippians 4:8)

So that’s me, but it’s you, too! Think about it. He was intimately involved in who you are and your life, as well. What do you think about that?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Comment below, at the Facebook page, or on Twitter.


The Silent Saturday?

I’m taking a short break from the Old Testament sacrifice focus. This Holy Week is so—holy. Where else should the heart and mind be but in contemplation of the significant events and story that took place? The events that thread together to make the crucifixion and resurrection story just can’t be relegated to the “musty, dusty, biblical, Classic Literature shelf” in my mind. How could that be? These events cried out their tremendous significance then—and they cry out to impact and transform the current day and age across generations, time, and space. If we cannot embrace that, for whatever reason, we have to at least engage the reality of it. To attempt to dismiss what happened as “long, long ago, involving people dead and buried” is a weak attempt at denial, if we’re gut-level honest.

That said, I left Good Friday alone yesterday. The entire Blogosphere lit up with countless entries, post after post after post, about Golgotha, Simon the Cyrene, the biblical and medical perspectives on Jesus’ pain and suffering, and the last words of Christ. There is no need to enter into that fray for me. I wanted to discover my own life and breath in the day. I hope you managed that for yourself. If not, there is no end to the meditations you could have within the blog universe, apparently.

But, Saturday. I’m tempted to sit with the silence that is Saturday. It’s quietly sandwiched between the agonizing, torturous pain of death and the magnificent celebration of the glory of life and resurrection. The silence of the Shabbat between death and resurrection.

What were Jesus’ followers doing on that day?

Sometimes we get a feel for it. We fill in some emotion between the lines in the Gospel accounts. Betrayal led to shame that, in its full measure, led to death. Denial must have led to shame-filled regret. A hurried burial must have left a bitterly sad temporary void until all that should be could be done. Confusion must have led to fear, disappointment, or apathy. How does one rest in a Shabbat when all this has happened? For the followers, it must have been a flood of hot tears and overwhelming sadness for their friend, son, brother, rabbi, and Lord.

I quietly muse they feared for their own lives next….

What was Jesus doing?

Some of the things I’ve heard and read suggest different things. The ideas include sleeping, resting, dead in the grave, folding the napkin, and the Apostle’s Creed uses the words “descended to the dead” or “into hell.” I agree with the Creed, but cannot say if that was Good Friday or Saturday. Here’s just a cursory glance at why.

On Friday, there is that conversation with the thief on the cross at the place called “The Skull.” In Luke 23:43 Jesus answered the thief’s request to remember him in his Kingdom with a promise:

And He said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.” (HCS)

What other “today” could that mean? Who could the “Me” be but the one speaking? What a beautiful promise to a man who desperately needed hope in painfully dire circumstances.

Revelation 1:18 confirms the descent. John wrote an account in prison on the Island of Patmos:

When I saw him, I fell down at his feet like a dead man. He placed his right hand upon me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last, the Living One. I was dead, but look!—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys to Death and Sh’ol. Revelation 1:17b, 18 CJB

Sh’ol is the Hebrew term we translate hell in English. Notice the passage doesn’t place the timing, but affirms the Apostle’s Creed.

And on Resurrection Day, we know Jesus spoke with Mary Magdalene:

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” John 20:17

How sweet that Mary was one of the first to see the Risen Christ. She was a woman who deeply and wholeheartedly loved Jesus and knew all about grace!

Thankfully, where I rest with this is a good place for me, though it may not do the same for you. It seems to fall in the realm of silence from Scripture. The silent Saturday (in anticipation of Sunday) makes more sense to me now than it did. And, really—I like that. I desperately need answers to life’s questions and hard life experience difficulties. More than that, I need to know there are things I don’t know, either not yet or not until I meet the Lord face to face. God must be bigger than I can figure. It’s important for me to search the Bible, but I can’t make up what isn’t specifically said. It’s a fine line. People would like to say something about Jesus’ itinerary between Friday and Sunday, but I won’t make stuff up.

Whether Jesus was shaking Sh’ol with his presence, I cannot say. I can only imagine what that must have been like! 

I like that I don’t know.



And then came Sunday….


As always, I invite dialog about these things. Please share what you may have found.

Good Friday: The Reason It’s So Good

it-is-finishedEach year I consider writing a new post at this time. Some years I do, but this year I’m drawn back to a favorite “oldie” on this site. I hope you’ll enjoy it. New followers of Fragrant Grace may never dig this far back into the archives, so I thought I would share it again, for their benefit.

The Pleasing Aroma




Be blessed on this holiest of days…