With God, there is no private time. There is no let down. There is no secret being kept; no rock not overturned. We are all laid bare before the Lord at any given moment. He knows the real us. Better than anyone else. Better than ourselves. And to make matters worse, this One from whom we cannot hide is the One to whom we must give an account. In a world in which we carefully construct our platforms, our personas, our masks, that is a terrifying thought.
Someday, someone is going to write prolifically about all the psychological effects of the last year. Effects on our mindset, our children, our view of relationships – surely all these things have been altered in big and small ways. For now, though, we are left mostly to think about ourselves and talk with each other about what’s happening in us – and to us. And in many cases, we are confused. Here’s one example:
The last year has been a period of isolation. We know this even in the terminology we have become accustomed to using. Words like lockdown, quarantine, and distance all are close to home right now, and they all have the connotation of isolation. We do zoom meetings instead of going to the office, we get Grubhub instead of going to restaurants, and we do movie rentals instead of going to the theaters. In all those ways and more, we have been by ourselves over the last year.
And yet we have not. Because as we’ve been doing all those lockdowns, quarantines, and social distancing, our roommates, spouses, and children have been doing the same. People have been around us – the same people day in and day out. All the time. In fact, there are some of us who might even say, ironically, that one of the things we have missed in the last year is actually being alone.
So we have these two dynamics happening at the same time – we are alone, and yet we are never alone. We are together, and yet we are never together. All in all, it’s confusing when you start trying to diagnose exactly what you are thinking and feeling when it comes to community and relationships.
The point of this post is not to solve that issue, but merely to point out that perhaps we see the same kind of duality happening in psalm 139.
This psalm is, of course, one of the best known psalms we have. It’s a song about the pervasive, inescapable presence of God:
Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
you understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest;
you are aware of all my ways.