What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it- the fact that he knows me.
J.I. Packer, Knowing God
Gevalia Gold Coast coffee, dark-chocolate covered almonds, and Downton Abbey CDs.
Two friends recently gifted me with these. Then came the rush.
Do you know this rush?
The Joy of being Known
It’s the same rush I felt when my friend Jen nailed my game clue. “Fleeting” wasn’t too veiled for Jen, because she knows how much I love sunsets.
It doesn’t matter if you know the game. What matters is someone else playing the game knows you. When that happens, there’s that rush.
It’s the surge of joy, of feeling loved, that comes from being known. I felt it last night, too when my friend Jen guessed my card right, in a Dixit game where it pays to be known.
But there’s a flip side.
The Pain of being Unknown
Back to gifts for a minute. My favorite gifts are not the ones that cost most. They’re the ones that show that the giver of the gift knows me. I mean knows me.
Which probably has something to do with the fact that most of the gifts I give are far from a perfect fit. I’ve given plenty of duds: whole-bean coffee to friends with no grinder or who don’t even drink coffee and milk chocolate to those who much prefer dark. Then there are the musical mismatches I’ve made. Just because I like I folksy, hymnsy doesn’t mean my friends do.
Recalling those poorly chosen gifts makes me cringe because I know how some gifts I’ve received have hurt my own fragile little feelings. I won’t tell you which ones. Let’s just say how I felt opening them was probably how someone with a deadly nut allergy would feel if a good friend made him a very special peanut-butter cup birthday cake.
But it’s not only gifts. Questions sometimes do this too.
When Questions Miss the Mark, or the Heart
We all long to be really known and truly loved.
I think the reason misfit gifts hurt us is that they reveal that we are not really known, at least not as much as we thought, or wish, we were.
But sometimes gifts show us that we’re not and sometimes well-intentioned questions miss the mark. They miss our hearts.
Like when a friend asks about your work but it’s your kids that are heavy on your heart. Or when she inquires about your sore knee, but really it’s a trouble at work that that’s got you losing sleep.
Failure to read minds is no fault. Credit goes to any friend who gives a gift or cares enough to ask.
Still, when gifts and questions miss, we’re disappointed. Because deep down we want to be known and the misses show we’re not. And since we can’t love something we don’t know, feeling unknown often leaves us feeling unloved.
But maybe you’ve got secrets that you don’t want known, because if they really knew you, they wouldn’t love you.
The One Who Matters Most Knows Most
Maybe it’s not so much that you want to be known as that you’re afraid that if you really are- if you stop hiding- you won’t know love. And you’ve been hiding your “stuff” from everyone.
But Jesus sees it. Which is actually a good thing.
The person who matters most knows most. The person whose judgment about you is all important knows all. Let that sink in. You are totally known. Totally. There is not the slightest part of your heart unknown to Jesus, at this hour, and every hour.
Therefore, there is always at least one person you must relate to who knows everything about you. You may be able to look at others in the face and know that they do not know certain things about you. This shapes your relationship. But there is one who when you look him in the face sees totally through you. If you relate to him at all, you relate as one utterly laid bare. Utterly known. What an amazing relationship!
There is one, and only one, who actually and totally knows you. Nobody else even comes close. Your spouse’s knowledge of you, or your best friend’s knowledge of you, compares to Jesus’s knowledge of you is like first-grade math to quantum mechanics. You are fully known by one person — Jesus Christ.John Piper sermon, “He Knew What was in a Man,” bolding added.
Yes, do. Let that truth sink in.
Known By God
This truth grips me: that my God knows me. I am known infinitely better than even my husband and best friends know me.
Here’s some proof:
- “But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” (1 Cor. 8:3)
- “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matt. 7:22–23)
- “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?” (Gal. 4:9)
- “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:12)
It blows my mind to think we can know the Holy, Almighty God. It blows my mind more to think that He wants to know me.
Which might suggest that He loves me.
What Matters Supremely
J.I. Packer wrote Knowing God two years before I was born, but I missed it till now. I’ll close with this wise man’s wise words.
What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it—the fact that he knows me.
I am graven on the palms of his hands [Isa. 49:16].
I am never out of his mind.
All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me.
I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me.
He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters.
This is momentous knowledge.
There is unspeakable comfort—the sort of comfort that energizes, be it said, not enervates—in knowing that God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love and watching over me for my good.
There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me.
Certainly, there is great cause for humility in the thought that He sees all the twisted things about me that my fellow-men do not see (and I am glad!), and that He sees more corruption in me than that which I see in myself (which, in all conscience, is enough).
There is, however, equally great incentive to worship and love God in the thought that, for some unfathomable reason, He wants me as His friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given His Son to die for me in order to realise this purpose.Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 36-37, emphasis added.
Do you feel the rush now? I hope you do. Because you are fully known and deeply loved by the One who matters most. You are never out of his mind.
In fact, He even wants you as His friend.
The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.