Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
You understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest;
You are aware of all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue,
You know all about it, Lord.
Psalm 139:1-4 HCSB
I’ve been unable to leave Psalm 139 for a while now. I appear to require a very regular reminder that God knows me, inside and out. On Wednesday, I touched on the need to get out of the way, and today I want to highlight the most common way that I get tripped up while trying to do just that. It’s so simple, really—I look out at the world around me.
The moment I take my eyes off the Prize, the stumble begins. I look around and almost immediately my own life begins fading to gray and everything else seems to light up in Technicolor. The temptation to compare is overwhelming! How do I measure up here? Am I falling behind in this? Should my life be different? “Eyes front, soldier!”
I’m not really talking about the material world here. I’m talking about looking at someone else’s spiritual life and comparing it to my own. I found myself saying, “Lord, I just don’t love You like that!” but with despair, not hunger. “Lord, You don’t talk to me like You talk to her!” That one was said in shame, and not simple wonder. In entertaining just one thought of what my spiritual life lacks, the lack becomes all that I see. When I stop looking at Jesus Christ and start glancing around, my temptation is to compare what I see of others to my own relationship with God. And the second I move on that ground, I’m sunk.
Fear, self-hatred, despair, frustration, anger and jealousy are just moments behind one casual glance. It’s remarkable how quickly and completely one look can change everything! One second I’m delighting in the day and the peace and love of the Father, and the next thing I know, my life feels like a diaper bomb in a swimming pool – embarrassing, messy, and something that no one really wants. I can move from heaven to hell with one errant glance and a single curious thought.
And here’s the thing, I don’t need to look around to know that my life doesn’t exactly match anyone else’s. I don’t need to compare my relationship with the Lord to know that He doesn’t deal with me the same way He deals with other people. I am God’s own dream, unique in all the universe, and so are you. Our relationships with Him will be just as unique. It’s the Holy Spirit who unifies us all, not the scope or depth of our love affairs with Him. As the Spirit reminds me almost every day, unity does not mean uniformity.
It’s so easy for me to lose that truth in the buzz and pull to compare! I am loved and known utterly, and if my Father wants a different relationship with me than the one we have, He’s quite capable of initiating that change. And I’m so grateful for that!
My bones were not hidden from You
when I was made in secret,
when I was formed in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in Your book and planned
before a single one of them began.
Psalm 139:15-16 HCSB
PS – The most effective weapon I’ve ever found to use against my wandering eye is giving thanks. The moment I stop and thank God for it all – my accusing thoughts, my ingratitude, my faithlessness, all of it – it lifts right off me and I’m once again able and willing to set my eyes on His face. Thanking God is just shockingly powerful.