Our Greatest Knowing

The following column is my most recent for HM Magazine. It’s a reflection of some things I have been pondering as of late. There will be more to follow, as I dig deeper into this idea of “knowing” and “seeing” in a new and different way…

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted…Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know…I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you…”

Job 42:2-6

Most of us are familiar with the cliché, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” It may contain elements of truth, especially when concerning a competitive job or new position, acceptance into a prestigious school, political election or advancement, “making it big” in the music scene or Hollywood and so on. While this idea may have practical relevance for only some of us, I believe it applies to all of us in one very important way: The greatest knowing is not that which comes from knowledge (“objective” or “subjective” truth, theology, science, academics, wisdom, answers, etc.), but that which is in the person of God as He has revealed Himself to mankind.

I don’t intend to belittle the importance of learning. It’s vital to healthy thinking and holy living. But there are many moments, even long seasons, when no logical answer can justify where we are asked (or where we want) to go. And when they cannot bring us out from the dark, we find our selves very confused. In those moments, our ultimate “knowing” must be in the person of God.

I say this because I often find myself more concerned with what I know (about myself, my own dreams and desires, the future, my next season, my field of study) than with Who I know. We don’t need to know the “exact” will of God; we don’t need to have “complete” answers. This is a humbling realization that may leave us feeling powerless. “What we know” is not what causes us to step into the unknown. Our knowledge offers few promises and even less consolation when we’re shrouded in uncertainty. Therefore, it’s crucial we focus more on Who it is we know and what we have in knowing Him than what it is we know.

Whims, ideas, dreams, and desires are ever-changing. Even what we define as “knowledge” is often very subjective, moving within a spectrum of finite understanding. The person of God, who has made Himself known to the world in Jesus Christ and to our hearts through His Spirit, is our one permanent, unchanging answer.

What did Noah know when he needed to build an ark and there had never before been rain? What did Abraham know when he was told to leave his home and wander to an unknown land? What did he know when he was old and without an heir, having been promised that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars? And what did he know when he was asked to sacrifice the son he finally received as the fulfillment of that same promise?

What did Job know when he suffered in silence as a righteous man, knowing he had done nothing to deserve his severe punishment?

What they knew was incomplete and vague. Who they knew was clear.

In those dark seasons, there were sometimes few, if any, comforting answers from God. (A lot of times, it was silence.) There were sometimes few, if any, vivid responses from heaven. But in the end, God remained true to their knowing of Him, revealing Himself at the moment and in the manner that was most needed, the one in which He saw fit.

For those men we read of and for those of us who must now live through the same seasons, there was only one true answer, found in the person of God. We believe Him to be true to what He reveals of Himself and who He has shown Himself to be. The substance of our faith, hope and trust is not ultimately found in what we know, but Who we know.

(Go here to view the entire August issue of HM Magazine.)

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