There's this verse that is fairly well known, that I came across in my Bible reading recently. I'm so terrible at memorizing the addresses of verses, I can tell you what it says, but when it comes to where it says it, I'm generally at a loss. Needless to say, I was a tad surprised when I stumbled upon it and was struck by that realization - almost a deja vu - of, "Hey! I know this!"
The verse is 1 Samuel 16:7
"But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
I have a distinct memory of the first time I heard this verse. I was visiting a friend's youth thing...I only remember there being girls there, so maybe it wasn't their main youth group. But it was "inside-out" day and I remember thinking that was dumb and why on earth would we turn our clothes inside-out when they were perfectly fine inside-in? Things of that nature in youth culture still puzzle me to this day.
Back to the point. I remember hearing this verse - it was the memory verse for the night - and being comforted by it. Even though all these girls I didn't know were seeing the awkward, insecure outside appearance of me, God was seeing my heart. And that is the vein I've remembered this verse in over the years. I've remembered it as a consolation when I was feeling down or judged or unseen. I knew that God hadn't just looked at the spacey, overly friendly, day dreaming child that I was. I knew that He wouldn't merely glance at the scared, rabbit-like, under socialized middle-schooler or the quiet, insecure, lonely high-schooler. He hasn't just seen the sad 18 year old, the lost 20 year old, or the aimless 23 year old.
My God sees something far deeper, far more moving. He sees the heart. He has seen my unwavering love for foreign lands and people. He has glimpsed into the vulnerable places that humans don't see. He has seen the mess and the confusion and the frustration. He has seen the beauty and purity and the relentless yearning to be in His will. To be on the path I should be on, at just the right place on that path. He sees the desire and the love and the depths down to my core. THAT is where He looks. Not at the bad hair days, not at the nail biting, or the weird stuff my skin does every time the weather changes.
But, as I read this verse - maybe even for the first time in my adult life - I was struck by something. Since my wonderful God dives deep into the mess of my heart instead of looking just at my outward self, doesn't that then beg a question to be asked? Am I proud of what would be found in my heart if God opened it up and took a peek? Am I ashamed of things He might find hidden away in there, or is it an honest representation of the life I live on the outside? Is it weaker, stronger, dirtier than my outward life? Or does it reflect the advice I give, the words I "preach?"
The fact that the God of the Universe is looking at my heart makes me want to have the cleanest heart possible. Not in a "Dad's coming! hide that junk!" kind of way. More in the way we want our Dads at our sporting events, musical performances, plays, work places, etc. We want him there so he can see us and how well we're doing. We want him there to be proud of us. It is in that way that I want my King to see my heart. I want to be doing well, hitting home runs, singing my best song, and for a smile to touch his face. I want a clean heart.
I know that there are going to be times when my heart is tangled and messy, but that is where the comforting side of this verse comes in. Yes God is seeing my heart, but He is the BEST dad ever. My dad is pretty incredible and often says the right things at the right time. But God? HE is truly perfection. He knows how to deal with my mistakes and short comings. He knows how to handle my sadness and disappointment. So we don't need to be intimidated that He's taking a look around our vulnerable, sometimes fragile, hearts.
He is so good =)
Thanks for reading <3