Just for a moment, think of the smartest person you know. Who do you think is the wisest, the most inspiring, maybe the most revelatory person you've ever met? Do you have someone in mind? Good. Now hold on to that thought as you read today's story!
My high-school-aged son came home with his new Honors Biology textbook this week. It is a monster of a book, several inches thick and so heavy that his teacher has the students keep one at home and one at school to avoid carrying them back and forth! It was on the table where I had my quiet time one morning, so I opened it up to take a look.
Impressive, I thought. Just one sentence from the first chapter intrigued me, and here was a whole wealth of information about our biological makeup. A handy little diagram in another chapter explained the respiratory system in beautiful detail. I called my 8-year-old over to see it. "Look!" I said excitedly, "This is how you breathe!" I began teaching him about carbon and oxygen molecules and how they interact with our blood.
Thinking I'd probably lost it, my unimpressed 8-year-old found something better to do. But as I sat there, amazed at the amount of information contained in just this one volume, the Holy Spirit interrupted me. "You are impressed with just one line of this book," He noticed. And rightfully so, I thought, since just one word from Your mouth has the power to change a life! "This," He reminded me, "is just a beginner's book in the entire field of Biology. There are volumes more to be learned."
So true, I thought. Here was one book, in just one field, in a world containing many other fields - chemistry, language, history, sociology, computers - and on and on. The spiritual implications were staggering. I was suddenly awed by the vast quantity of information we know, and how little even the most degreed specialist knows in comparison to the whole. How immense is the sum of all knowledge! How amazing the God who created such wisdom, and how much more there is to know!
The prophet Isaiah came to a similar conclusion thousands of years ago:
"Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,
or as His counselor has taught Him?
With whom did He take counsel,
and who instructed Him, and
taught Him in the path of justice?
Who taught Him knowledge, and
showed Him the way of understanding?"
Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket,
and are counted as the small
dust on the scales."
"To whom then will you liken Me,
or to whom shall I be equal," says the Holy One.
Isaiah 40:13-15 & 25, NKJV
In the midst of Isaiah's revelation, God questions Israel as to why they complain that their way is hidden from the Lord, and that He does not see or know what is going on in their lives. (See Isaiah 40:27). To question a God whose understanding "cannot be fathomed" is ridiculous, really, and yet we are all guilty of it at times!
We listen with alarm to the doomsday prophecies of the week: Isis, Obamacare, global warming, and we wonder whether God knows. We would do better to meditate on the immeasurable magnitude of God! If we would do this, Isaiah notes, we would be invigorated and strengthened again (Isaiah 40:29-31).
While God is not dispassionate about such things, (nor should we be), He is not worried about them (and again, neither should we be). Psalm 2 gives us His perspective on the nations:
Why do the nations rage,
and the people plot a vain thing?
The king of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against His anointed,
saying, "Let us break their bonds in pieces
and cast away their cords from us."
He who sits in the heavens shall laugh,
the Lord shall hold them in derision...
the Lord has said to Me...
Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations
for your inheritance, and the
ends of the earth for your possession."
Psalm 2:1-4 & 7-8
Like my musings on the vast sum of academic knowledge, we need to see the bigger picture: the nations, God says, are our inheritance. Neither Isis nor Congress can defeat God in all His immensity! When we begin to take hold of the basic idea that the earth and everything in it belongs to the Lord, we will be less fearful of what the nations do and more impressed with what God can do through us.
The wisest man's thoughts and a nation's best-laid plans are no match for an unfathomable God. As a pastor-friend of mine used to say, "It's not: 'God, look at my problem!' It's: 'Problem, look at my God!' " The next time the wisdom of the world renders you awestruck or fearful, remember this: to God, it is nothing but a drop in the bucket.
c. Deborah Perkins, 2014
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.