God is watching me. Not just from outside my body, but even from inside my head. He examines everything I do. He captures every word I say and every thought I think. He considers the motivation behind every action I engage in. As David says in Psalm 139, I can’t get away from Him. Anywhere. Ever. Sounds kind of creepy, doesn’t it?
For several years after my conversion, I didn’t like this truth. I’d always been a private person. Keeping my thoughts to myself. Hiding any ideas that might lead to conflict or condemnation. Feeling safe because absolutely nobody knew all that was going on inside me.
And then I became a Christian.
And then I started reading the Bible.
And then I realized that I had no secrets whatsoever.
God knew it all. Even my darkest thoughts. Before I did anything, He knew what was coming. I didn’t like that idea. I wanted somewhere to hide when I was thinking about evil and sin—and enjoying it. Who was this oppressive God who wouldn’t ever leave me alone? What right did He have to spy on me?
Before I became a Christian, I had this vague general idea of a nice, happy, benevolent god. I didn’t think too much about his character; I just had a good feeling about him. He was out there somewhere, available when I needed to be perked up or comforted, but never forcing his way into my life or thoughts.
When I heard the gospel, though, I was convicted of the truth that God isn’t just a nice guy sitting up in heaven watching over us. He’s a God of righteousness and justice. He sees my sin, and He doesn’t like it. He condemns me for it. It took the death of His Son on a cross to atone for my transgressions. Even after I was saved, He still expected me to confess and repent anytime I disobeyed Him. I had a hard time living with the idea that this judgmental God was inside my head every minute of every day.
My pre-conversion, nice-guy God didn’t care how bad I was. Whatever I did was okay with him; we could be friends anyway. Didn’t his attitude demonstrate a greater, truer love than the real God’s? What I couldn’t quite grasp as a baby Christian was this: When the barrier of sin between me and any kind of God is thick and deep and strong, the loving grace that knocks it down is incredibly costly—to Him. The love of my sweet, gentle, easygoing god was trivial compared to that of the biblical God with His overwhelming, unbelievable, sacrificial grace.
A God who could not have fellowship with anyone or anything tainted by sin, but who created an entire universe so that He could experience intimate relationships with His fallen and redeemed creatures. One who freely revealed Himself through His Word to self-centered and rebellious human beings so that we could have the best possible life here and eternal life hereafter. One who cared so deeply that He could know me inside and out, He could live in my head with all its filthy pollution—and still love me, still offer me His comfort and compassion, still lead me through my ugliest days, still promise me an eternity with Him.
It took a while for that message to get through. But now I find comfort in knowing that He knows exactly who I am, that He’s always with me, that He got inside my head and stayed there. Permanently.
What if . . . ?
What would our relationship be like if I could hide from God whenever I knew that He’d be unhappy if He could see what I was doing or thinking? What if I could choose to show Him only my most saintly side? What if I could turn invisible to His eyes the moment my halo threatened to slip? Wouldn’t that be great? But . . .
What if I could only trust Him to love me when I was at my best?
That’s not exactly the kind of love that I long for. At one time, I might have believed that in an ideal world I could hide at will from a righteous God of justice. Sin in secret when I wanted to, turn to God for His love and comfort without any repercussions afterward. Wouldn’t the best God create a world like that?
But what I really crave and what I really need is a God who knows me inside and out, who sees the very worst in me, who stays right there in my head when I’m thinking the blackest thoughts and doing the dirtiest deeds, who passionately hates those thoughts and deeds—but who still loves me dearly, still reaches out to draw me nearer and nearer to Him.
It took an encounter with suicidal depression many years ago to begin to change my understanding of this God in my head. I was at my worst. I had lost every trace of the fruit of the Spirit. I was mean and hateful and angry toward others, filled with anxiety over the littlest things, jealous and self-absorbed. No way could God love someone like me. Especially a righteous God who could see all the terrible things going on inside me.
It might have been different if I hadn’t been saved yet. Then I would have had an excuse for being so bad. But I’d been following Him for five years, learning and growing and committing every day to Him. (And, yes, falling and repenting, too.) Now, under the influence of my depressive disorder (undiagnosed at the time), I had to be the worst possible excuse for a Christian that He’d ever seen. No way could He love me anymore.
But He did. He demonstrated that love in one incredible encounter that I won’t attempt to describe here. That was the moment when it began to be okay to have this righteous and holy God inside my head. He had shown me a love that went far beyond anything I’d ever imagined or expected or experienced. For the first time in my new-creation life, I felt like He was at home. And I welcomed Him.