I Never Knew You At All

I grew up in the Church. My second family was the group of people who made their way each Sunday to Holy Cross Lutheran. Some I felt I knew very well; others only casually. I once overheard someone joke that they could tell if you were a visitor at church by whether you knew my mom and me.

Because of the conditions of our house, Mom and I spent most of our time elsewhere. Even then, at some level, my mother must have been acutely aware that her house was symbolic of her earthly struggles. She withdrew to the home only when there were no other options, or she was withdrawing from life in general.

We were in church more days a week than we were not.

I learned about God from an early age. I remember learning and memorizing the liturgies from the red hymnal, and later the green. I think I went to every VBS held from age six through fourteen--first as a student, later as a helper. On the surface, I knew God. I had taken catechism in middle school, read through my Bible many times, and felt the Spirit's move in my life from time to time.

But my ability to relationally know God was stunted by my life's circumstance. To borrow a line from Addison Road's song, "What Do I Know of Holy?":

I knew all the stories
And I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
But those were just empty words on a page



As an adult, I wandered. I had trouble connecting in new churches. I had been the precious sweetheart of the congregation growing up, covered in prayer by nearly a hundred people a week, I'm sure. I firmly believe that more people knew the struggles I was fighting than I could have grasped back then. I mean, we drove the hoard-mobile to church every Sunday, and I was the ultimate people pleaser.

But God knew me, even if I didn't truly know Him. He kept His hand upon me the whole time. And my world spun completely out of control, when my life became unmanageable, when I hit bottom, He was there to catch me.

And I knew just enough to run to Him, lacking a better solution to where I was in this tough journey called life....

Over the last two years, my ideas of God have changed dramatically. For the first time, I have learned how to crawl up into my Daddy's lap, rest my head on His shoulder and cry. I picture myself running up and jumping into His lap the same way my three-year-old daughter runs into my husband's lap. She loves to be there. She is loved and safe in her daddy's arms. No matter what she has done wrong, how she's hurt herself by ignoring his warnings, her daddy scoops her up and kisses, hugs, and loves on her.

My own father has never held me that way. Even now, thinking about this lack in my own three-year-old's heart makes me misty-eyed. Every little girl deserves the right to crawl up in her Daddy's lap.

God is so loving, that even when He corrects me, I want to be in His embrace. He reveals His law to me, not to rebuke me or control me, but to show my need for Him. As if after 30+ years I haven't figured out just how MUCH I need Him. He reminds me that the law doesn't save; it's a measure only. It is grace that has saved, that paid a price for me, that loved me every moment even when He was just words on a page.

And today, I can look back and say:

I never really knew YOU at all!

And it is my prayer that each day that passes, I can still look back at my journey, my path and growth and realize that I hardly knew Him at all...and strive to know Him better. And I'll hear Him say, "I always knew and loved you."

I'll rest in that knowledge, knowing that is enough.

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