Theologians use a lot of jargon which most people outside the field don’t recognize, but most Christians--if they’re familiar with the Bible--are at least familiar with the three big “O’s.” You probably know what I’m referring to: omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. But I’m what you might call a practical theologian, which means if it doesn’t affect my daily walk with Christ or how I’m supposed to act, I don’t spend a lot of time on it.
Psalm 139 has long been regarded as an all-important description of God’s omnipresence (the fact that he’s everywhere at once). But what difference does it make to me?
The reason why I love this passage so much is because it personalizes this aspect of him so well. The God that’s presented here is very different from the image that some people have of him. To a lot of people, God is “out there” somewhere, and he either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about what happens to me in my personal life. Or even if he does, he certainly doesn’t care about the “little” things that I do or what happen to me.
But look again at the God pictured in this Psalm. He’s everywhere, yes, but even more important, he’s here with me. He’s not just concerned about the “big” issues, like life and death. He’s watching when I “sit” and when I “rise.” What’s more mundane than that? Every word I’m about to utter, including “I’ll take the Diet Coke, please” at McDonald’s, is already known to him. On a much smaller scale, you can compare it to a parent’s observation of his child before he’s about to talk. As far as a first-time parent’s concerned, there ARE no insignificant words coming out of that infant’s mouth.
And this personalized attention began long before we even knew anything about him. Before we said our first words, before we were laid into a baby bassinet, he was there. In fact, he was there with us in our mother’s womb. I love the image here. The first couple chapters of Genesis tell us that we’re all created by him, but this is so much more. . . intimate. When we look at a crowd of people, it’s easy to think of them as mass-produced. But not according to David. We are, each one of us, “woven together” in our mother’s womb. That’s infinite care, like the type an artist displays when he’s working on his masterpiece.
Per usual, C.S. Lewis put it best:
We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character. Here again we come up against what I have called the “intolerable compliment.” Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble: he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be. But over the great picture of his life—the work which he loves, though in a different fashion, as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child—he will take endless trouble—and would doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and re-commenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumb-nail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.
And we can’t get away from this attention, even if we wanted to! That’s where his omnipresence really kicks in—No matter where we go, from the highest heights to the lowest depths, he’s there. His eye is always on us, even when we’re completely unaware of it (which is actually most of the time).
So to sum up, what does this mean to me? Because of what I’ve learned here, there are no
• Insignificant moments
• Insignificant thoughts
• Insignificant words
• Insignificant people (me, or anyone else)
This could be infinitely comforting or infinitely scary. Which one depends on. . . my choices.
And now for your pleasure, here's "You Are There" by Ashely Cleveland, which expresses these thoughts so well.
Father, you are with me, everywhere I go. Please help me to remember that. For good or ill, you’re always watching. I’m never alone.