Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

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.

(Psalm 139:13-16)

Texts like this one show me just how much of an unbeliever I am. Sure, I sing about Jesus at church. My husband is a pastor, for goodness’ sake. But when it comes to my perspective on me, I look much more like an atheist than a cross-clinger.

If there was no God to make me, I could hate myself. Bully my own heart about the several things I wish were different on the inside and the outside. Never be satisfied with what I see in the mirror (especially if it’s swimsuit season). If a god made me but he lacked wisdom or goodness or power, I could ignore/obsess over my well-being without the slightest qualm because, come on—consider the source.

But.

If every last strand of my DNA were stitched together under the knowing smile of the God who would throw Himself low for me? Well. That changes everything, doesn’t it?

At first glance, this chunk of the psalm seems a tad cocky, right? Like David had gazed into the glass too many times and was singing a hymn to himself. Try an experiment. Reread the passage, but this time, emphasize the Lord. It should go like this:

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.

Do you see how quickly the focus shifts to a song of upward adoration? The gospel enables us to sink joyfully into accepting both our Maker and ourselves, flinging our arms into the air in worship. The time of self-directed loathing has come to an end, and all that’s left is exuberant celebration. It’s impossible to see God for who He is and think one ounce less of ourselves than David’s song reflects. This Maker keeps looking at us despite knowing our every thought, word, day, and way. It’s like we fascinate Him and are met without the slightest hint of mockery or boredom in His eyes.

Now comes the part where I preach to myself. Why do I insist on hiding pieces of me that God has already seen? I’m not hidden, and He longs to see me (can you even imagine?). The gospel is that I am fully known and fully loved. If my soul isn’t drawn to wonder at my being, I’m not telling myself the truth. Picking my reflection apart becomes an act of rebellion against my King because doubting the creation is doubting the Creator. Come on, soul! Fault-finding is thinking like an orphan, convincing myself that I am unloved and unwanted. How far from the truth! Jesus, the greatest image of blazing, glorious beauty, already murdered that fear once and for all. I just keep forgetting it.

So I happy scrawl reminders across the mirror and the scale and the closet and the fridge and my own skin because this is where the war begins. I lift my eyes and hands, surrender to living as the image bearer I am, seeing beauty and purpose instead of too much or too little or why? I was custom made, and so were you. The only appropriate response can be praise.

If you’re worried this kind of thinking will create a population of self-absorbed, narcissistic snowflakes, fear not. The gospel fuels us to own our broken and beautiful selves and then forget them in a way the world can’t. We move outward and upward, no longer spiraling center but loving and serving from a place of deep acceptance. Where we used to hunt internal peace through external effort, we are now enveloped by peace that grows from the inside out, and activity is the natural result—life-giving, compassionate, creative. Think of it! Peace. Even in swimsuit season.

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