Search me, and know my anxious thoughts

I was sitting with a prisoner last week considering, among other things, how we allow God to affect our behaviour. We were thinking together particularly around the concept of 'being transformed by the renewing of your minds' found in Romans 12. It got me to thinking about how much I allow God to renew my mind, and how my behaviour is affected. Isn't it funny how often in Chaplaincy God turns the tables upon you! 

In Psalm 139 it is quite moving to see the tenderness that David uses in referring to God's continual presence even in the midst of suffering. The whole Psalm indicates an intimate relationship which David has with God, a relationship that is based on God's knowledge of 'the real David' and a relationship that is transformational. He writes boldly, "O Lord, you have searched me and known me!  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going outand my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways…Where shall I go from your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from your presence?…If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night.' even the darkness is not dark to you."

One of the things that I love about the psalms is how realistic they are. David recognises that it is his Godward relationship that will get him through his anxieties, his cares, and even his failings (as he expresses in Psalm 51). Having written all of this, you would think that David would be a man without a care and without anxiety and yet in verse 23 he writes, "Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and see my anxious thoughts."  It's comforting to know that even the author of Psalm 23 and Psalm 139 struggled with anxiety from time to time. 

The lesson that I take away from verse 23, and from Romans 12 is that the key to transformation is not found in trying harder, it is not found in learning more skills, it is found in allowing ourselves to discover the will of God. And that can only be discovered through relationship. I know that every time I walk into a prison I try to remember to ask God in prayer 'what do you want me to do in here today'. Maybe I should be asking Him more regularly, 'show me where I will meet You in here today'. I would like to be brave enough to ask God more regularly to 'test me and know my anxious thoughts', maybe if I spent more time meeting with Him, and building up the sort of intimate relationship that The Son of David had I wouldn't be so worried, and I would be more changed.

Maybe giving up coffee in Lent will help!!!!