..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

What I Don't Yet Know About God

"O the depth of the riches both
of the wisdom and the knowledge of
God! How unsearchable are his
judgments, and his ways past finding out!"
--Romans 11:33

Even as a young person I wanted to
know God. My early years with God
were robust beyond measure. There
was so much to learn about God,
and yet, He seemed so close,
so knowable, everything made
perfect sense.

I would sit and think about what
I would know about God if I lived
to be quite old. I wondered how
it would be different from what
I now knew of Him. The thing is
I could never seem to make a good
guess about what I might know
about God after a long life that
I didn't know about God already as a
fervent God-pursuing young person.
Oh, dear Lord!

What I certainly did not know is this:
"I... saw under the sun, that the race
is not to the swift, nor the battle to
the strong, neither yet bread to the wise,
nor yet riches to men of understanding,
nor yet favour to men of skill; but time
and chance happeneth to them all" (Ecc. 9:11).

I did not know that life batters everyone around
and how things turn out are not, perhaps,
as we think they should.

I am now a bit older and, as I think about
what I might know about God up the road
that I don't know now, I suddenly feel very
low to the ground.

You see, one thing for sure, knowing God
is not about book knowledge or facts or just
correct doctrine, but about knowing God
as He is: knowing His character. Our
character produces our actions. If we
know someone's character we will know
how they will act. The more we know
God, the more we will understand His ways,
and know how He will act.

You may think this is self-evident,
even boring, but it is actually
one of our greatest guards against
falling into error and heresy.

How many times have we thought
that God was going to act a
certain way and didn't?

How many times have we thought
something was God and it

How many times have we failed
to apprehend how God was
working in our individual or
collective midst's?

Then comes the collision.

Often these collisions with
divine reality press our souls
to the very limit and can even
cause us to question God or to
turn away from Him. Disappointment.
Disillusionment. Confusion. All
these are common feelings when
how we think God is collides with
how God really is!

These collisions come to all our
lives and are divine appointments
to help us to know God better.

I started this article with that
wonderful verse from Romans where
Paul is overwhelmed with the mind-
boggling ways of our wise and good
God. This verse is his reaction to
the seemingly difficult dealings
of God with Israel. Surely if God
was the kind of person who drew
predictably straight lines in His
dealing with Israel it would have
been different.

But He is the kind of God who
draws straight lines with crooked
people, allowing His very own
to stumble so that a greater grace
and a more magnificent salvation
could be accomplished.

If this He did with the nation of
Israel, who are we to expect anything
less in the outworking of our
individual lives?

And so Paul writes, "For God had
concluded them all in unbelief
so that He might have mercy upon
all" (vs. 32). Here is a large
clue for us all as to what we
don't yet know about God!

Because He is in covenant with us,
because He is who He is, God has
promised to use even our ignorance
and unbelief to enact and pour forth
a greater mercy. To catch a glimpse
of this is to have your life changed.

"While we were yet sinners Christ
died for us."
Even at our best
point our knowledge of God is
limited while we are still in
the flesh. We see "through a
glass darkly
." This is not to
say that we cannot know God.
Thank God that we can! Yet it
is with the humility that
produces mercy that we seek Him.

Something about the process of
not knowing God as we would like,
and finding even in the most
solid of hearts, unbelief,
can produce in us, if we are
rightly disposed, a great humility.
This humility can lead to a great mercy
in our dealings with others.
May we seek a great understanding of
the mercy of God in the history
of both Israel, and our own lives.

In Israel's case it is a severe
mercy, but it leads ultimately to
salvation. Again, if Israel is the
showcase of God's covenant and His
ability to keep His Word, can we
expect anything else in our own
lives? For we are to be a showcase
not only to the nations but
to Israel of the mercy
of God. The mercy He shows the
gentiles is meant to woo
Israel back to Himself.

Ah, but how does this make me
feel better in my little life in
my small neighborhood? How do I
cope with my ignorance of God
without becoming cynical and
hardened? How do I live as I
am, full of imperfection, yet
still seeking God, knowing that
I haven't crossed all my t's or
dotted all my i's in the arena
of knowing God?

Let the humility of knowing that
we have only begun to know God work
the mercy of God within your heart.
"..Blindness, IN PART, happened to
Israel so that the fullness of
the Gentiles be come in" (11:25).
God did not want Israel to fall
into sin and ignorance, just as He
does not want us to. But God, being
who He is, is able to redeem it
all so that it allows a greater and
wider salvation! This happens on
a grand scale, and on a individual
scale. Allow Him to do a work of
mercy in your heart so that others
might be saved.

Willful blindness is something to
repent of and seek God for healing
of. But some of my blindness is
just plain ignorance. Even the best of
us is being healed progressively of
spiritual blindness. A pure vision of
God, even for those who diligently
seek Him, is a work in progress.

As my heart becomes more pure, and as I
see God more clearly, much of what
I think about God today will tomorrow
show itself to be embarrassingly
inadequate. Accept God's mercy in
this, and that mercy shall pour through you
to others. In those moments when
your realize you have misapprehended
God, pray for Israel. On that Day
when she finally sees what she does
not yet know about God, even Jesus
Christ, she will appreciate mercy in
a new way. Consider yourself to be no
better and blessedly allowed to
see because of her blindness.

Imparting the knowledge of God
with a merciful spirit is something
I did not know when I was young.
It is a lesson worth learning even
if it comes through walking through
some severe landscapes.

I don't know what I will know about God
in the future that I yet do not know.
I suspect it will be more along these
lines, lines filled with mercy and
grace, with the unsearchable wisdom
and knowledge of God. So my best advice
is to stay low to the ground and
allow mercy to lead us forth.

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