By Brooke Momblow
Further reflection on the sermon by Mike Banta entitled, "Where Did You Get to Know Me?" on January 17, 2021
For You formed my innermost parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being formed in secret, and intricately and skillfully formed as if embroidered with many colors in the depths of the earth. Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were appointed for me, when as yet there was not one of them even taking shape. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I could count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You. – Psalm 139: 13-18 AMP
In his sermon Mike described the many ways God intimately knows us. “All three aspects of our being: body, soul, and spirit are created by God, known by God, and even entwined with God.”
Mike encouraged us that past failures or our perception of ourselves, have no bearing on God’s love for us. “We come to God with confidence, knowing He embraces us while knowing us completely. We may see ourselves as full of faults…Yet even knowing all, God loves us completely, as demonstrated in the gift of Christ.”
It is this profound realization of being fully known and fully loved that draws us to the heart of God. “His intimate knowledge of us proclaims to us His care for us, and we answer with joy and wonder.
Mike shared his own understanding of God’s words to us: “Where did I get to know you? I have known you in every way before you were formed. I crafted you thoughtfully and carefully. Your heart is home turf for me. My promise to you (and my promises never fail) is that you will never be parted from me. For I made you for this purpose. I have loved you with an everlasting love and will love you into everlasting. Be at peace, for my intent for you is to love well within my kingdom and to commune with me beyond the end of time. Again I say, be at peace.”
Last week it seemed God was prompting me to share with you a dream I had not very long ago about how intimately we are known and loved by God. But it felt strange to share this with you and I questioned how to do it. As usual, God was already planning to speak his truths through someone else, preparing a path:
In the dream I was sitting in a softly lit room in a chair opposite of Jesus. It was just the two of us and I had a pen and notepad because the purpose of this meeting was an interview with Jesus. I was going to ask him questions about himself - to get to know him, to understand his heart and thoughts better, to acquire a better understanding of his character.
But there were other questions on my mind too that kept picking at me. Questions wondering if God could or would use me for his purposes? Had I messed up too badly to be a vessel of His Spirit? Why was I created the way I was (the design seems weird…)?
Sitting across from me Jesus smiled warmly and his desire to be there with me, answering my questions, radiated out from him. Excited to get started I leaned forward to ask my first question about him when to my own embarrassment instead I blurted out my questions about me.
While I’m not sure it is possible, it seemed Jesus’ smile got bigger, his face radiated light even brighter, he threw his head back and laughed with merriment, his complete joy filled every inch of the tiny room. He looked into my eyes and spoke for hours about the plans he has for me. My astonishment at his words, at his plans, at his uniquely thought out design just for me, kept me on the edge of my chair! It was all too wonderful to be true! I couldn’t quit asking more questions about what I was being told. Jesus’ joy in sharing his creative thoughts and purposes just seemed to become more evident on his face and in his posture and in his spirit radiating from him.
My heart was overwhelmed trying to take it all in. My mind was in awe of his great love for me, his great delight in me and what he has created. Our time together was finished but I didn’t want to leave, I wanted to stay and bask in the awesomeness of the revelations, to ask more questions. He smiled at me with such joy and love.
When I awoke, the words in the dream were sealed, I couldn’t recall a single one of the amazing things I’d been told. As I reflect on the dream I think those things will be made known to my natural mind as I do ask questions of Jesus, as I do get to know his heart, thoughts, character, and love better. Possibly starting with his heart toward me.
But the Spirit remained with me. The great wonder and awe of God rested on me. And the knowledge that was too wonderful for me to fathom was in my heart - the knowledge that Jesus enjoyed me to such an unimaginable extent, that he loved me so much. Even now I shake my head in wonder trying to grasp it for myself.
Immediately I knew that this dream wasn’t just about me. This dream was about every person I knew. About every person I didn’t know and would never meet. God delights in who he created them to be and he loves them with all of his being.
Then my thoughts grew a little sad. If only people could know how much God enjoys them! Right away I also knew he has already told us with many actions and words in scripture, with the gift of Christ! how much he loves us. If only people all over the world would hear and believe. If only we, the body of Christ, would hear and believe!
Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church Dallas says that too often we focus solely on our behavior and our struggles to change. He advocates that what we truly believe determines our behavior and therefore we should focus more on believing God’s words to us.
-How does the idea of God knowing you so intimately affect the way you relate to Him?
-Would your thoughts change about what God has created you for - if you believed he loved and delighted in you completely as you are?
Mike suggested that we take some time to read and think about the words of Psalm 103. Let’s do that now. (I used the amplified version the first time through) Maybe also pray again the prayer of confession from the bulletin.
Prayer of Confession by Thomas A Kempis
As yet my love is weak, my heart imperfect, and so I have great need of your strength and comfort. Visit me often, I pray, and instruct me in the way of your love. Set me free from all evil desires, and keep my heart from all wayward paths. And thus, healed and cleansed in spirit, may I learn how blissful it is to plunge into the depths of your love.
Let your love dissolve my hard heart. Let your love raise me above myself. Let your love reveal to me joy beyond imagination. Let my soul exhaust itself in singing the praises of your love. Let me love you more than I love myself, and let me love myself only for your sake. Let me see your love shining in the hearts of all people, that I may love them as I love you. Amen.