Reading (Psalm 139)
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night”, even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain! Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
Yesterday morning I was out in the garden and it was impossible not to notice that we are now well and truly in autumn. I was wrapped up in a couple of layers of clothes as it was not all that warm, but it was bright and the weak autumn sunshine made it pleasurable to be out there working. I was cutting down my tomato plants and bringing in the tomatoes that will need to ripen indoors as there is not enough strength in the sun any more to ripen them outdoors. As I sorted them out and tidied up I reflected on the various successes in the vegetable patch this summer. All that I am growing now is my butternut squash, everything else has been harvested.
I have come to appreciate that success can be measured by how good something that I grow tastes. I realise that it has very little to do with what the produce actually looks like or indeed how well the plants grow to start with. Very few of my vegetables would ever pass the grading system that would get them onto our supermarket shelves. The skins of some of my tomatoes have been marked and split, some of my carrots had small holes in them, one of my courgette plants produced a crop of very pale fruits and of course some of them grew far too big to ever be classified as courgettes and my beans were far from straight, but what they did have was amazing flavour. I also knew exactly what had been fed to them and the air miles were non-existent. You could say that I knew my vegetables.
God created us exactly as we are. We may not consider ourselves to be perfect, but God does. He made us and as the psalmist says in Psalm 139, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Sometimes we might feel that we don’t measure up to what the world considers to be beautiful, but God does. It does not matter what our skin colour is, if we are tall or short, fat or thin, it does not matter what the colour of our eyes are, or if our hair is straight or curly, long or short. What matters is that we taste good. It is what is on the inside that matters, that is what God sees. God knows us, he knows everything about us and he still loves us. We are perfect in God’s eyes and that is all that matters.
Father God, I thank you that you made me just as I am.