Exposed. Naked. Or so it feels.
I am trying to squeeze into my swimmers.
It’s been years since I have swum. It is only the possibility of getting in shape and the opportunity and accountability of swimming with somebody else that has convinced me to pull my abandoned swimwear out of the bottom drawer. I checked to make sure that my swimmers still fit and the fabric hasn’t decayed. They’re okay … but don’t think I’m going to post photos. No way.
This experience reminds me of how God sees us. In fact, he sees even more than a middle-aged lady clothed in lycra. His focus goes straight to the heart.
God sees our hearts
The Bible is full of statements about God seeing our hearts. (See the list at the end of this post.) What he sees is often ugly. Despite what some people say, I don’t think that our society is getting worse, although in my country, at least, ‘tolerance’ is increasingly valued. We’re not told much about what God saw of human hearts in Noah’s day, but we are told the it was not a pretty picture (Genesis 6:5-6). Millenia later, in the book of Romans, we read that God turns us over to the desires of our hearts when we reject him, causing our society to degenerate into disaster (Romans 1:18-32).
If anybody else were examining my heart, I’d be more than a little self-conscious. I don’t want you to see the spirit of criticism that rears its ugly head from time to time. The perfectionism that keeps me from productivity is something else I am working on even through keeping this blog. Exposing my heart to others would be worse than going to the shopping centre in my swimmers.
The Emperor’s New Clothes
‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ is a tale by Hans Christian Anderson about an emperor who believed he was wearing magnificent clothes which were invisible to anybody unworthy of being in his presence. Of course, nobody was willing to admit that they couldn’t see his clothes. Everybody pretended … or almost everybody … that he was magnificently attired.
I sometimes feel a bit like that emperor. Don’t you? I act like I have it all together, calm and in control of any little thing that comes up. Sometimes I even believe it myself. But do you know the truth of what is in my heart? I’m not sure that I even understand my heart’s depths.
But God does.
Adam and Eve
Shame. Horror. Embarrassment.
After eating the forbidden fruit, Eve and Adam realised that they were naked.
I wonder if they hid from one another? They certainly attempted to hide from God. Whatever did they use to sew those fig leaves together to make clothes? Vines? They must have been desperate. Big chunks of bark is what I would use were I to find myself in such a predicament in the Australian bush. Perhaps with huge tree fern leaves over the top.
Were it not for Jesus, I could not be comforted by the knowledge that God sees my heart. I would be like Adam and Eve, desperately grabbing anything at hand to try and cover whatever I could. But even when I was at my worst, Jesus died for me. The risen Jesus has put his Spirit in my heart, and works in me to make me more like himself. It’s a slow process.
Because God knows the worst of it already, I don’t need to pretend to have it all together. I can be myself … though I’m motivated to be the best version of myself possible because I know he is watching.
Exposed. Naked. And yet not condemned nor ridiculed. In the words of the Biblical writer to the Hebrews, “…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22 NIV)
But as for being comfortable in swimwear out in public, that is a different story.
‘God sees our hearts’ – a concept seen throughout the Bible
Genesis 6:5 God knows the inclinations of the thoughts of human hearts.
Genesis 8:21 God knows every inclination of the human heart.
1 Samuel 16:7 People look at the external appearance, but God looks at the heart.
1 Kings 8:39 God alone knows every human heart.
1 Chronicles 28:9. The Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought.
1 Chronicles 29:17 God tests our hearts.
Psalm 7:9 God probes hearts and minds.
Psalm 44:21 God knows the secrets of our hearts.
Proverbs 21:2 The Lord weighs the heart.
Jeremiah 11:20 God tests our hearts and minds.
Jeremiah 17:10 God searches our hearts and examines our minds.
Matthew 9:4 Knowing the thoughts of his listeners, Jesus asked, “Why do you entertain such thoughts in your hearts?”
Luke 5:22 Again, Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?”
Luke 16:15 God knows our hearts.
Acts 1;24 God knows everyone’s heart.
Acts 15:8 God knows the heart.
Romans 8:27 God searches our hearts.
1 Corinthians 4:5 God will expose the motives of our hearts.
1 Corinthians 14:15 The secrets of our hearts will be laid bare.
Hebrews 4:12 The word of God judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
1 John 3:20 God is greater than our hearts and he knows everything.