Psalm 139; Romans 12.1-2, 9-21
Where does God belong? My buddy and colleague Ian, a senior pastor in another church, played in the #12 jersey for the local rugby team; he was dynamic and a little scary. It caused quite a stir in the whole district when he got sent off for a very aggressive high tackle. “Ooo hoo, Pastor Ian got sent off last Saturday!” Some people said it proved he was a very committed player, others that he had anger issues he needed to get under control, still others were sad that it seemed for him God didn’t belong on the rugby field. Does He though? Actually Ian thought the Lord does belong on the field, and apologised the next day at Church for letting them and the Lord down. I agree with him, God goes everywhere with us and he is always encouraging us to live up to his standards of wisdom and love, even when someone has punched us on the nose during a rugby game.
Everywhere, Everything, Everyone That God belongs everywhere is the substance of Tim Hughes powerful song, “Everything”. It reminds me of two great Celtic hymns, “God be in my head” and “I bind unto my self today”, that celebrate, and commit to, the persistent and enduring presence of God in our lives. The first stanza explores God’s presence in my living, breathing, waking, sleeping, resting, working, thinking and speaking. It raises questions for us about where God is, who God is for us; is he indeed the One from whom my life flows, determining my purpose and performance as his child, what determines how you live your life? Do I get that God is the one from whom I draw every breath whether earthly or the air of heaven; have I remembered that the Holy Spirit is the breath of God? What’s my first thought upon waking; is it the weight of the demands in the day; or that God is here still and ready to lead me through another day of living under his loving guidance? Do I surrender to sleep believing in the presence of His peace-giving, healing presence; protecting and watching me? Do I hear God calling me to sabbath rest and inhabiting my rest with all Creation; regathering and restoring my energy for His service? As I head for work, am I anticipating the blessing of work or is it a curse? Do I see this as Creator’s gift or a burden, can I instead, see it as a calling to join God in his work? If someone could see my thoughts, would they see the Lord at work or my own greed and lust in charge of my secret world; are my plans in Divine or devilish hands? Do I realise that words DO matter; that they can build or demolish, heal or wound, bless or curse – does God get a say?
Then what do I expect of life, of worship, of friends and family, of the unfolding of history? Is it just accidental and meaningless, or is God at work fulfilling our hopeful visions of his purpose among us? What is there in your deepest desires and preoccupations that motivate and inspire your dreams? Did you know that dreams can be shaped and that God shapes the best? God watches and opens our eyes to see around us, do you watch with his sight, his perception, his discernment? Under God do you have the patience to wait on his timing with trust and expectancy? Are your tears of frustrated anger and bitter disappointment at not getting your own way, or are they out of God-given grief at genuine loss, of regret for sin, of love for the lost, or empathy for the suffering? Have you learnt that God is especially present to the hurting whether of body, psyche or spirit, of emotions, or the social? Have you found his strengthening presence? And have you realised that all acts of healing are his work, putting to right the destructive power of sin in our time and place?
Realising this to be true, the writer invites God to be in everything for each of us; everywhere, at all times, in all circumstances. God is present in everything, empowering all that we seek to do that is good and upbuilding.
Encompassing God (Psalm 139) (Inspired by the book of the same name by David Adam)
[v.1] celebrates that I am completely, lovingly known by the ever-present, all-knowing Lord;  who is aware when I am both at rest and burning up energy, not just as an observer but as one who gets me at the deepest level.  Nothing is hidden from his loving regard, even my words whether shouted, whispered, or mumbled; whether true, false, careful or careless, he sees both the stirring of those words in my soul and their escape from my mouth.  He surrounds me in every dimension, direction, at every level and phase, marking me as his precious loved one and so  I am lifted in wonder and praise, dumbfounded, yet not entirely silenced.
[6-11] And so there is no escape for his loving attentiveness, and the assurance of Divine Presence, almost in spite of ourselves and our many, puzzling and varying moods – in both careful and careless moments, whether mindful or oblivious. Experiences of joy and horror, of confidence and fear, of glowing health and dire illness find us surrounded by God’s assured joy-giving, life-affirming company. There is nothing so exciting, so horrible, so distant, so threatening or desert-like that can place us beyond the reach of the faithful, wonderful, enduring Lover of our souls.
Even when I find his scrutiny unendurable or frightening, he sticks around – somewhere – in reach, within sight and hearing range, ready as always to help, to comfort, to hold.
[12-16] The Creator knows his work, the detail, the intricacy, the complexity, the astonishing beauty (that’s us) – nothing in all human ingenuity has matched this inspiring being called you. [put your name here].
There’s something you may not have had clear in your head: that the Lord is not even deflected or repulsed by our sin. He endured quarrelling disciples, Pharisees with lustful thoughts, fearful deniers, uncomprehending and ambitious followers, without ever giving up on them. The Lord’s not deaf to our cursing and gossip or blind to our lustful, power-mad rebellion and yet he never ceases loving and treasuring us, never walks away in frustration and anger.
Once we take the first steps on the journey of faith there is no place we can go, no act we can perpetrate that blocks us from his faithful, enduring presence. David knowing this, invites the compassionate, all-wise Lord to continue the journey, with full disclosure of all that he is and may be, seeking to be led in the ways that honour and glorify God and lead to an eternity of blessing and fulfilment.
So present yourselves ready. Read Romans 12.1-2, 9-21 at least twice