Knowing and being known

Humans want to be known, and this need is perhaps underestimated on the list of human psychological needs.  Although of course being known is not on the level of food and sleep, there exists a strong need to be known.

Sometimes I want people to ask me questions about why I am the way I am, where I’ve been, what think about X and why, etc.  Sometimes I want to download on an unsuspecting passerby all my thoughts and feelings about a topic, and sometimes I want people know to know this or that about the spaces and times of my life, toward the goal of their understanding and knowing me. Sometimes I feel, upon walking into my office at home or on campus, that “this is where it all happens”—in other words, that this my life . . . what I think about, and what I do.  I want people to know something about all it is to be me.  I want to be known.

God also wants to be known.  It seems to me that this reality is one aspect of why God chose to come to earth in human form.  There would have been other means of providing for the redemption of humanity, but He opted for the ultimate initiative:  shucking divine nature in favor of created weakness.  It’s one thing for, say, a rock or sports star to stand in a checkout line at a Wal-mart when he could simply pay someone else to do the same thing.  But God’s taking of human form is on a completely different level:  it establishes relationship and meets a completely other “race” on its own terms.  This gesture is so radical, so cataclysmic that it must be that God cared about being known and wanted to show humans who He was in a personal way.

Did He want Jesus’ disciples (and mere interested onlookers) to ask Him questions like “What do You think about X?” and “Where were You before You were here, and what were You doing?” and “So is that what your Father is like?”

May we . . . may I . . . move toward knowing Jesus, which is essentially knowing the Father.

Knowing You, Jesus—
Knowing You—
There is no greater thing.
You’re my All.
You’re the Best.
You’re my Joy, my Righteousness,
And I worship You. . . .

Words and Music by Graham Kendrick
(c) 1993 MakeWay Music

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The bird that sings

Years ago, Landon Saunders wrote and spoke a poignant thing about faith: that “it is like the bird that senses the dawn and sings while it is yet dark.”

Later, I wrote this lyric, with credit to Landon:

Before the daylight, a song is heard.
While the darkness lingers,
From the trees I hear the faith-tune of the bird.
And the dawn will arrive;
Messiah is alive!

~ ~ ~

At this point in the morning in the Land of Israel, I imagine the women were already on their way to the tomb. They were despairing but reverent. But they were soon made incredulous … and joyous.

In the words of Graham Kendrick:

There is no greater thing than to know the power of Your risen life
And to know You in Your sufferings —
To become like You in Your death, my Lord
So with You to live and never die!

May we worship the Lord of life afresh today, knowing that because of Him, there is hope beyond this life.  Our souls may sing, whether we can carry tunes or not, because, like the bird before dawn, we know it’s coming.

In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:  Death swallowed by triumphant Life!  Who got the last word, oh, Death?  Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now? (1 Cor. 15, The Message)

Consistent voices

Christendom has its share of struggles and scourges. There’s truly a lot to criticize (although not as much as the news media appears to believe).

But I find in contemporary Christian culture that there have been some consistent voices … voices that have spoken for more than a decade and have not succumbed to scandal. Voices whose messages have been sound and inspirational. No person should be idolized, and I’m no groupie, but I have retained a certain admiration for some of these folks and thought it would be worthwhile to mention them. Honor to whom honor is due. . . .

  • Twila Paris, worship songwriter (and, to a lesser extent, a singer) whose contemporary anthems and God-oriented songs have moved many for more than two decades
  • Michael Card, songwriter (and, again, to a lesser extent, a singer) who has a particular gift with reducing large-scope biblical messages into coherent, poignant song lyrics
  • Michael W. Smith, the now-legendary Christian songwriter who has an absolutely horrible voice but whom I find to have both a creative gift and a humble heart
  • Fernando Ortega, singer-songwriter whose earthy lyrics are as beautiful as they are Godly
  • Bob Kauflin, known primarily a songwriter for Glad and other groups, but who also does steady, local church work in Maryland (his “I Stand In Awe,” by the way, has been corruptly dumbed-down by many a cappella churches)
  • Rich Mullins, who perished while driving in the Heartland some 10-or-so years ago, whose songs and mission with Native Americans were equally well-conceived
  • Graham Kendrick, a British songwriter who’s been “around,” having been part of the British worship renewal that began more than 20 years ago
  • Max Lucado, whose writings have probably touched millions … I haven’t kept up with the last 5 or 6 books but have been inspired many times in the past
  • and I should surely name Billy Graham, despite my disagreements with his soteriology … the man had/has character

I claim no personal knowledge of these people’s lives but have never heard them ill spoken of, and have a fair amount of experience with many of their works through the years. They seem sincerely enagaged in Kingdom work to me.

Would anyone care to add to the list?