“Santa is watching you, and if you are not a good boy, he won’t bring you any presents!”
Who remembers hearing this not-so-veiled threat from your parents as a child in the run up to Christmas as they tried to encourage (or frighten us!) into better patterns of obedience?
At various times in my own walk with God, I will admit to having treated God as divine Santa Claus; I have viewed him as a magical grandfather who can pull blessings out of a hat on demand or get me out of sticky situations.
I suspect I am not alone in my attitude to Christ. However, a very quick glance at Psalm 139 demonstrates that this view of God is, at best, one dimensional and at worst, extremely sinful.
In this passage, which is one of David’s many direct utterances to God, Israel’s greatest King acknowledges that:
‘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.
He states in verse 4:
‘Before a word is on my
you, Lord, know it completely. (NIV)
Later admitting in verse six that such knowledge is ‘too wonderful’ for his flawed human mind to contemplate.
Realising that it is impossible to ‘flee’ from God’s gaze, (verse 7) since he can see us in the deepest seawater or even the darkest of nights, (verse 9 and 11), provides us with a more accurate understanding of the LORD and his power. He is not a cuddly grandparent with a smile and a bag of sweets. Nor is he real-life genie who grants wishes or a magician who performs tricks to astound us. He is God in the truest sense of the word and is different to us in ‘kind’ and not juts by ‘degree’. We are not like Him and simply cannot use Him on a whim.
Grasping this important truth about God even in our very limited human way can be frightening. However, it is also deeply reassuring to know that we are in the hands of a loving creator.
In verse 13, David acknowledges that God fashioned his ‘innermost being’ before he was even born. As he reflects upon this, he declares that, he was ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’ (verse 14.) Just as David was handmade by God, the same is true for you, me and every other member of humanity, past, present or future.
As someone with a noticeable and occasionally painful physical disability I have always drawn great comfort from the fact that I was personally put together by our loving and all-powerful God. He has no favourites and he makes no mistakes. He could have stopped my condition from occurring if he had chosen to, but he did not. I have come to understand that the LORD allowed me to be born with Cerebral Palsy for a specific purpose which is for my good and his glory. (Romans 8:28.) The intricate details of my life are important to God and it is the same for anyone who knows and loves him. It matters not one jot who you are, where you are from or what you have done in the past. Whether you are disabled, unemployed, young, old, rich or poor, God made you and he cares for you.
That doesn’t mean he will act like Santa Claus, but he will be your loving Heavenly Father. He will ‘search’ you and ‘know you’; He will deal with anything that is ‘offensive’ in you. However, as part of that process, he will ‘lead you to the way of understanding.’ (Verses 23-24.) This will set you on a path that is unique to and perfectly planned for you. That’s a promise!
Joe Boyd, (Journalist and Author of ‘Trading Places.’)