Studying our little newborn has caused us not only to say, “Aww!” but “Wow!” It is amazing that our son arrived all ready to go. He had perfect little fingers that had begun to grasp his umbilical cord even before birth, practicing to take hold of our own fingers as we caress his cheeks; ears that had heard our voices even in utero; and deep blue eyes that first saw some semblance of light while still in the womb, now looking right back into our souls—and clearly thinking something!
How awesome it is to look out and up to God’s majestically created world and universe for a transcendent feeling that speaks to our own smallness. But we are also to look down and within ourselves and even to our mother’s womb and feel so intimately and intricately significant. For God made us, and wonderfully.
So Psalm 139:14 proclaims: I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
The context and focus of this verse is God’s special presence and construction of us in our mother’s womb (vss. 13, 15-16), even before she herself knew we were there: the Hebrew in verse 16 for “substance” means embryo. There is such a deliberate design of our human details—such marvelously meticulous molding into God’s own image (Genesis 1:27; 9:6; James 3:9). Your amazing human existence is cause alone to praise the Creator.
We should wonder over our own selves as those made in the image of God. Some years back, the Institute for Creation Research published an article entitled “Made in His Image: The Amazing Design of the Human Body.” It is an excellent article, and worth quoting here at length:
Take the human body. Its profound engineering outshines virtually everything else we see. Even the best scientists and engineers can’t come close to replicating its beauty, performance, and complexity. As we study the human body, it becomes apparent that it was the result of an exceptionally intelligent and creative Mind …
One example is the multiple temporary structures that allow a child to survive in a watery world for nine months and then suddenly transition into a normal breathing environment after birth. A substitute lung to get oxygen from the mother, shunts that divert most blood around the developing baby’s lungs, and blood vessels that connect the baby to the placenta—all of these must work together to enable a baby to thrive in the womb. Within the first 30 minutes after birth, all the temporary vessels, shunts, and openings normally stop functioning, and they permanently close within the next one to two days …
The visual system develops in the womb with built-in plans and specifications. Tissues form the eye in a precise choreography of carefully timed steps. At the same time, nerves are constructed to bring data from the eyes to the brain.
After a child is born, his eyes take in data. Light photons hit the back of his retina, which converts patterns of light into a flow of electrical signals. These data are sent down the optic nerve to the brain for interpretation into information. However, the brain cannot interpret the data until memories are formed for future reference. Both the processes of retrieving memories and associating them to data patterns are essential to complete the function of sight …
Human hands are definitely unique, enabling us to perform in ways unmatched by animals. Not only is their physical structure different from comparable hands in the animal kingdom, they are controlled by an unusually large neurological command center in the brain that gives us uniquely human abilities.
The human hand can perform a variety of grips and movements exhibiting an astonishing amount of flexibility and control. Our hands allow us to grip heavy objects like a hammer or a bowling ball as well as light and fragile objects like a potato chip …
The human body is the ultimate example of the marriage of design and function, enabling athletic abilities that showcase just how perfectly God engineered us …
To help us balance, we have an interconnected control system in our ears known as the vestibular system—a great example of a biologically complex system with multiple parts working together for a single purpose … Our nervous system carries instructions from the brain to adjust the rest of the body according to the sensory data—enabling a gymnast to vault and stick her landing after a flip, twist, and turn …
… In spite of the many other wonders we witness, you and I are the most efficient, complex, and astonishing work that our omnipotent and omniscient Designer ever made.
Ponder for a moment the wonder of your remarkable person. Value all human life, including in the womb. Be amazed at professional scientists, athletes, and poets. And praise the three Persons of the Trinity: this is the result of such self-admiration—lifting your eyes to the one Who made us (verse 17). Adore Him with holy fear (for you are fearfully made). Awe and wonder over His handiwork in your own body and soul (for you are wonderfully made). Marvel over God’s forming you the way you would regard any work of engineering and art. Admire the great Designer and Artisan. For Christian, you are an amazing specimen of machinery and beauty, especially having been recreated as a new creation reflecting His image in righteousness, true knowledge, and holiness that was lost in the Fall (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10).
Consider also that Jesus Christ Himself took on a human body and soul: so as you are redeemed in Him, you can rejoice in your own humanity. John Calvin teaches in the beginning of his Institutes that we know ourselves better by studying God and that we know God better by studying ourselves. Take a look at yourself in the mirror. Study simply the movement of your fingers and the function of your thumb. Or analyze your eye, its lashes, and tear ducts, and weep with wonder over God your Creator. And value who you are with appropriate self-esteem as God’s crowning creation (Genesis 1:31).
When we do so, such self-appreciation that responds in praise to God lives out an aspect of fulfilling our purpose as instructed by the Westminster Shorter Catechism Question and Answer number one: “What is man’s chief end? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”
All this to say, Christian, look at yourself as the amazing specimen of the Divine Architect, and praise God for how wonderfully made you are.
Grant Van Leuven has been feeding the flock at the Puritan Evangelical Church of America in San Diego, CA, since 2010. He and his wife, Fernanda, have five covenant children: Rachel, Olivia, Abraham, Isaac, Gabriel, and Gideon. He earned his M.Div. at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA.
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Illustration by Chattapat from the Noun Project