“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
- Psalm 139:14 NIV
“Have you ever thanked God for your own goodness?” Father Carlos asked.
By this point in the silent retreat at the monastery in Kentucky, I was already cracked wide open, but that drove the final blow. I was shattered. Darn near sobbing.
“Think about it,” he said. “God called all of his creation good, but he called you very good. You are a very good creation.”
How many times had I heard the words of brokenness and shame spoken over me in a worship service? How desperately I needed God to save me? How wretched and worthless, how screwed up, how messy, how imperfect and flawed and unlovely?
I didn’t really need a reminder. I knew I wasn’t beautiful. I knew I wasn’t perfect. I knew I wasn’t enough.
How hard it is to trust that God loves you when you feel so unworthy of love!
Even now, 20+ years after turning to Jesus as the Lord of my life, I still find Father Carlos’ words hard to swallow, and yet there they are, at the beginning of Genesis, God making mankind in his own image, making all of humanity in his own image, making you in his own image and me, too, me, of all people, also a child of God, also part of a very good creation.
Then, later, even after the Fall, the Psalmist praises God because “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Wonderfully made! Precious to God!
Scandal of all scandals, a loving God loves his creation and wants so badly for it to get to know the real and true God sent his Son in the flesh of the creation he loves so that we can know the true character of the Father, that extravagant father who runs to the prodigal son, that generous father who throws a feast and makes time and celebrates and justly rewards servants and sees the nameless billions of people throughout history who felt they were nothing but no.
They are also a very good creation. They are also made in the image of God. They are also fearfully and wonderfully made.
Points of Reflection
- How does the intimate knowledge God has of you described by the psalmist make you feel?
- What parts of you feel unlovely or unworthy of God’s love?
For the Kids
- How does it make you feel to know that God made every part of you, knows you fully, and loves you?
- Earlier in Psalm 139, the writer says he can’t get away from God. How does that make you feel?
If you are fearfully and wonderfully made, who else in your life is also fearfully and wonderfully made? What else is fearfully and wonderfully made? Spend some time reflecting on the components of creation you are most grateful for, and then think about the things that might otherwise go overlooked: the trees are making oxygen for you to breathe, and you are making CO2 for them to breathe. Rocks and sand and minerals are filtering contaminants from water so you can drink it. What else? Be like Adam at the dawn of creation, and name the creatures back to God that you are grateful for.
The very good creation is all around us, and God is the Maker and Sustainer of it all. I recently devoured The Secret Wisdom of Nature: Trees, Animals, and the Extraordinary Balance of All Living Things ― Stories from Science and Observation by Peter Wohlleben, which showcases from the scientific realm just how interconnected creation is, and how beautiful, fragile, and resilient nature is made. Nature proclaims what the gospels also declare: above all else, loving relationships matter to God. Enjoy!