Broken Yoke Ministries, Inc
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
By Bob Van Domelen
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139.14)
For the past three weeks, I have been struggling with this thing I call my body. More specifically, my pancreas – an organ I gave very little thought to until it decided it wanted some attention. The attention came in a big way and has, I think, changed my life in ways I never expected to change.
At one point during my stay in a hospital intensive care unit, I managed to get my wife to understand that I wanted my phone. I couldn’t talk because of the tubes but I wanted desperately to have one question answered. So I typed “Will I live?”
God’s timing, one of my doctors entered the room at that moment, read the message, and responded with a simple yes. He shared a few other thoughts but my mind wasn’t paying attention. I was focused on his simple yes. That question had been in my thinking more than I can tell you while I was lying in that bed - poked, scanned, and controlled.
Another concern I faced were the gaps in my memory of things as they happened. As a matter of fact, it turns out that there are two versions of what happened that very first day – reality and the somewhat off-the-wall storyline I was sure was the truth, though no one else would admit it to be so. At one point during my stay, I wanted a glass of water so much that I devised a plan to get it. My plan involved putting on the cloak of invisibility (hidden under my pillow) and getting that drink with no one the wiser. And up to now, you thought me a normal person, didn’t you.
Once home after almost two weeks of hospital care, I found that I still had to deal with extreme fatigue, occasional stomach pain that kept me awake, and little sense of taste. Our family doctor told me that recovery would take time and patience. I have the time but I struggle with the patience part. Oh well.
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
That was a pretty long introduction to the things I hope to share, but the title for the article came to me as I was reading God’s word early one morning. Fearfully and wonderfully made? Was this someone’s idea of a huge contradiction, because little of what I have been through lately would find it easy for me to agree?
Eventually I started to consider not the pain and discomfort but the way in which my body was announcing that not all was well. Would I have actually even considered that trip to the emergency ward all on my own or would I have continued to focus on my plans for the day? Knowing I was somewhat self-centered in nature, my body overrode the calendar of events for the day. Thank God it did! In sickness and in health, my body is still a fearfully and wonderfully made. And it is complicated well beyond my imagination. Does that sound familiar? Doesn’t that sound like something of God’s design? I think it does.
I Praise You
So what’s the point? In some ways, it’s very simple. We stop praising God when we stop reminding ourselves of God’s love and presence in our lives.
Imagine King David quietly sitting alone while considering his life as God’s chosen one, the leader of the Jewish nation. He had seriously sinned in the eyes of God and he knew that many of his choices were not in anyone’s interests other than his own. He certainly had cause to see that he was, in fact, far less mighty and powerful than he had imagined himself to be. Psalm 139 begins
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
God knew David! Not just a few things but everything! And as the words flowed, David was confessing the truth of his relationship with his creator as well as his creator’s relationship with him. David’s heart spoke “I praise you” not just for how God created him but for how God continued to love him despite his wrong-doing. Does this sound familiar?
But What of the Things I Have Done?
How can anyone who molests a child be fearfully and wonderfully made? Doesn’t such an act prove just the opposite? Actually, what we do or have done does not deny the truth of how we were made in God’s image and likeness, an image that does not include sin. Such sin, regardless how it comes to be, is never of God but of us.
Given time and better life choices, my health should return. I will never be as healthy as I was at age 24 but being healthy at three times that age works for me. Still, future health is not a license for me to forget this whole experience as though it never existed. I may not see or feel my pancreas, but I certainly am aware that it exists.
I have been writing Into the Light since 1997, writing about my life, God’s healing, and the issues faced because of things I had done. Before Into the Light, God had opened doors for me to share publicly the message of hope and healing for those with sex-related offenses. In other words, my past is rarely far from my thoughts. It is not, as I have often shared, my identity.
We are called to recognize our sins, to do everything we can to turn from those choices, and to put on the identity God gave us at the time of our birth. That identity, by the way, is found in God’s word.
The World vs Us
A clear majority of the world would reject the notion that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We represent the worst to them despite the claims many of them make to be Christians, Christ-followers who love as Christ would love, forgive as Christ would forgive. But pointing a finger accusing them of being phonies is not the answer. Our goal today, tomorrow, and for all the tomorrows to follow is to be true to OUR identity in Christ. As much as we’d like, it is not to convince others that such is our goal or even that they should believe we can change.
If that sounds like a lonely life, I won’t disagree. But over the years God has placed people in my life who know me, love me, and support me. And I am not lonely – certainly not the lonely man I was while in the depths of my dark secrecy. Some who write me will never leave prison but that doesn’t change the friendships we’ve built over the years. They understand me and I think I understand them. And what makes all of these connections work is the presence of God.
The closing line of Psalm 139 is very telling because it seems to me to be an invitation for God to reach into David’s heart in order to root out what should not be there.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (vs 24)
If we ask God to do this in our lives, will we be willing to follow the path God gives to lead us out of our sinful choices or will we decide to hang on to those choices? Only those who truly seek God in all things will know how hard that decision can be and often is.
Though I don’t really enjoy what is happening in my body at this time, I acknowledge the conversations I have been having with my creator, conversations that are often more one-sided on my part but trusting, nonetheless, that some part of me is listening for the reply. I am, after all, fearfully and wonderfully made. I am a child of God.
Before I close, I want to share that the title of this article was something I had considered some time ago. I even wrote a few opening paragraphs but then ran into nothing more to share. The time was not right – it is now.