PRAYER: (from the Lectionary)
“Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”
SCRIPTURES: (from the Lectionary)
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. (Psalm 139:23)
PRAYER FOCUS: Knowledge Too Wonderful
In 1970, a previously unknown author named Alfred Toffler rocketed onto the bestseller list with a book called Future Shock. Toffler introduced the term to our lexicon and defined it as “The shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time.” He argued that 20th Century society was undergoing an enormous structural change, a revolution from an industrial society to what he called a “super-industrial society”, and that most people felt overwhelmed and disconnected. And he predicted this disorientation and disconnection would increase as the rate of technological and social change accelerated.
Nearly a half-century later, Planet Earth, population 7 billion, has transitioned from Toffler’s post-industrial society to an information society, and is in the process of transition into whatever lies beyond that. On this day, more than 350 billion text messages will be sent and received, exceeding the world’s population by a factor of five. More than 300 billion emails will be sent and received. There will be over 3 billion Google searches; nearly 20 million of which will be previously unknown questions. By the end of this year, Google estimates that we humans will have generated more than 40 exabytes (40,000,000,000,000,000,000, or 40 billion billion bits) of unique new information.
That’s a lot of information. How much of that is knowledge?
Information refers to raw data that has been processed and classified; it accrues meaning only by way of relational connection. Information may not actually “mean” anything. On the other hand, knowledge is the concise and cognitive association of information in a way that makes it useful. Simply put, we need information in order to gain knowledge.
This week’s Lectionary presents some excellent, deeply thoughtful, richly theological passages of Scripture, in addition to a great devotional prayer. But it is Psalm 139 that we zoom in on. This Psalm of David reveals Almighty God, the Creator and Architect of the Universe, the Eternal Father, in a refreshingly pure and personal way.
The first verse gets right to the point: You have searched me, O Lord, and you know me…
David is saying:
My Father-God knows everything about me. He is familiar with all my ways. He knows when I stand and when I sit. He knows what my thoughts are, even when my thoughts are far away from me (i.e., even when I’m not thinking). He knows what I’m going to say, even before I say it. He knows what I’m going to do, even before I do it. Nothing I have ever thought, said, or done has surprised Him. And He loves me anyway.
Verse five reminds us we are never alone, never apart from either God or His Love: You hem me in behind and before…
My Heavenly Father is with me; His Love surrounds me. He has always been with me and will always be with me. Whether I climb to the highest heavens, or descend to the lowest depths, He is there, guiding me and protecting me—loving me. He has laid His hand on me…
God’s hand on us says He is actually, actively connected to us; He knows our health, our strength, our weaknesses, our disposition. He means to bestow His blessing and offer His protection. That connection is meant to establish a two-way flow of information.
Verses 13 and 14 introduce the particular intimacy of God’s knowledge of us: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…
My Father has been with me since the very moment I was conceived. He formed me in my mother’s womb. Therefore I am not an accident of nature. I am an awesome, wonderful work of the same Creator-God Who spoke the Universe into being, and He loves all the works of His hands.
God doesn’t need Google to search us. Verses 17 and 18 illuminate the vast and personal scope of His knowledge: How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand…
My Father-God thinks this much of ME.
Christian, say that again: “My Father-God thinks this much of ME.”
We live at a time when the amount of information, and the resultant knowledge, is expanding at an exponential rate. New discoveries introduce advanced technologies that impact the way we live, the way we think, the way we interact and relate to each other, in ways unimaginable to King David when he wrote this Psalm.
And yet the nature of mankind remains the same. More importantly, God’s love remains the same. It transcends time and space. It surpasses all human knowledge. In the midst of a universe of information, and a world full of people, the all-knowing Creator knows you; He is focused on loving you.
How wonderful is that?
It’s Monday Morning. Our prayer for you this week was first written by Paul to the Ephesians, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge…”