Read Psalm 139:13-18
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me O God.
They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me! (NLT)
The sort of people we are now is very much shaped by the people we once were. Our childhood experiences affect our adult experiences. Since no-one’s childhood was perfect we can expect some distortions in life to result from earlier pain or loss. Then again, most of us experienced at least some love and security and so we can expect these to enrich our later lives. In other words, we are products of those who loved us or failed to love us.
The psalmist here reminds us that God didn’t just drop into our lives at puberty. He didn’t come into our lives at our ‘conversion’, though that was likely the time we offered our lives willingly to him. He was there before we were born and presumably didn’t drop out till invited in at a later stage. This doesn’t mean we attribute our childhood pain and loss to him, rather we recognise that he is able to use that pain and loss for good when we give it all to him.
There is a saying attributed to the Jesuits which says, “Give me a child for the first seven years and I will give you the man.” Our past infects our present. The good news for those who invite God to oversee their life is that nothing in the past is wasted. The pain and the pleasure, the loss and the loves, all are woven into his tapestry for us in the present and future.
Those puzzling and only dimly remembered experiences of childhood can be given some positive meaning by the one who has been with us from the beginning. The one who has chosen not to make our early years free of pain or puzzlement but to weave them into a pattern of his own making. Just as an old rubbish tip can become in time green playing fields, so too can our fragmented and nearly forgotten past experiences be changed into something that enriches present and future.