In elementary school, my friends and I invented our own alphabet code. We meticulously took each letter of the alphabet and connected it to a new symbol.
We would then write notes to each other using that code, despite the hours it must have taken us to decode it on both ends.
It was fun to have a secret language, something no one else could understand even if they saw it.
Does God toy with us that way?
I don’t think so. In reading J. I. Packer’s chapters 9 and 10 this week on God’s wisdom, I heard hints (perhaps incorrectly?) that God intentionally keeps us in the dark about things—uses his own secret code without disclosing the key—so that we’ll stay humble about our own limitations and will lean more dependently on his strengths.
“The God who rules [the world we live in] hides Himself. Rarely does this world look as if a beneficent Providence were running it. Rarely does it appear that there is a rational power behind it at all. Often and often what is worthless survives, while what is valuable perishes.”
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“For the truth is that God in His wisdom, to make and keep us humble and to teach us to walk by faith, has hidden from us almost everything that we should like to know about the providential purposes which He is working out in the churches and in our own lives.”
I disagree. While I do agree that we should be humble about ourselves and that we should be dependent upon God, I don’t think God has to hide himself to make us seek him for his wisdom.
It’s just reality. We are less. He is more. The longer we live, the more we experience the gap between the limitations of man and the power of God. We see there’s more we don’t know than we do know. We discover that God redeems the circumstances and relationships in our lives to show us that he does indeed know more than we do, if we’ll pay attention to him.
He doesn’t have to intentionally send us troubles to do it. Each day brings enough troubles of its own. We wouldn’t do that to our own children—create suffering so they’d have to call on us for help. Since God loves us much more than we’re capable of loving our kids, how much less likely is he than we are, to manufacture additional trouble for us in order to gain our trust. I just don’t think he operates that way.
Am I misreading Packer? It’s likely. I’ll stay open to changing my mind.
But I still agree with Packer on more than I disagree with. Such as,
- Wisdom is both moral and intellectual
- Wisdom is more than mere cleverness or cunning
- Wisdom is the power to see and the inclination to choose the highest goal
- Wisdom is the practical side of moral goodness
- Wisdom is at its fullest in God
I also appreciate Packer’s list of benefits we receive when we recognize God’s wisdom:
- We are more humble
- We are more joyful
- We are more godly
- We are more quick to do his will
- We are more resolute to do his will
- We are less bewildered by life
Perhaps my confusion with this chapter is simply more proof I lack wisdom. We are not wise enough to understand God’s ways. We’re incapable of handling the whole plan up front.
But God doesn’t have to intentionally create a secret alphabet code to keep us away from insider information. We wouldn’t grasp it anyway.
He just is too wise, too big, too powerful for us to understand.
And that’s okay. It’s enough to know that God sees all, and that we can see God.
We’re just to follow God today. Stay focused on the road in front of us. Be present with him now.
That sounds like wise living to me.
“The kind of wisdom that God waits to give to those who ask Him, is a wisdom that will bind us to Himself, a wisdom that will find expression in a spirit of faith and a life of faithfulness.”
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We’re reading through Knowing God via Challies. Grab a copy and read along.
- Why do you want to know God? (chapters 1-2)
- What does it mean to know God? (chapters 3-4)
- You know God & Jesus. But the Holy Spirit? (chapters 5-6)
- Is reading the Bible worth it? (chapters 7-8)
- Chapter 11, “Thy Word is Truth”
- Chapter 12, “The Love of God”
- Who will open the door?
- Books I recommend – September 2015