“The greatest thing any person can do for another is to confirm the deepest thing in him, in her – to take the time and have the discernment to see what’s most deeply there, most fully that person, and then confirm it by recognizing and encouraging it.* (Douglas Steere, Together in Solitude)
Each of us has hundreds contacts of people who never look beyond our surface appearance. We have dealings with hundreds of people who the moment they set eyes on us begin calculating what use we can be to them, what they can get out of us. We meet hundreds of people who take one look at us, make a snap judgment, and then slot us into a category so that they wont’ have to deal with us as persons. They treat us as something less than we are; and if we are in constant association with them, we become less.
And then someone enters our life who isn’t looking for someone to use, is leisurely enough to find out what’s really going on in us, is secure enough not to exploit our weakness or attack our strengths, recognizes our inner life and understands the difficulty of living out our inner convictions, confirm what is deepest within us.
I am blessed to know a few friends who don’t just peel the surface off my face and snap me into a boxed, labelled little box. They take the time to know me intimately and know me well. As I reflect on Job, one brilliant writer reflected and wrote,
“how his life shatters with such drastic suddenness. Overnight, ruin overtakes him, happiness flee him, and the locusts devour sevenfold the years that God has blessed him with. Job and his three companions (“friends”) who show up to comfort him. Only, theirs is a cold comfort. They resort to theological browbeating – a barren remedy at the best of times, but utter cruelty for such a time as this. Dogmatics is useful thread for stitching together our patchwork ideas about God. It’s terrible suture for a broken heart. They are eloquent, orthodox, forthright. They adopt the pulpit tone, favoured by preachers for centuries, half between scolding and pitying. They KNOW, all by appearances. They KNOW, with undaunted confidence and unwavering authority, what this is all about : why catastrophe has befallen Job, what God intends by it and how Job should respond to it. Even Job’s wife (one should KNOW Job better) has a cameo, a brief walk-on part, and she too KNOWS. But Job himself, he is not so sure. He just doesn’t KNOW.”
At the end, God bursts in, storm clad and thunder-voiced, and launches into a lengthy, impassioned soliloquy of his own:
Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?
On and on it goes, drilling and grilling with a litany of questions lasted 2 chapters . Job 38-39
Have you comprehend the vast expanse of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this. What is the way to the abode of the light, and where does darkness dwell? Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you watch when the doe bears the fawn?
What do you KNOW?
It’s His question to Job! It’s His question to me – What do you KNOW??
And my answer is “Not Much!” Job’s answers are probably the same. They swap opinions. They indulge in speculations. They traffic in assumptions. The trade hunches. But none of them grasps what he sees with his own eyes. They are gloriously oblivious to things right in front of them, the hard datum of the world they inhabit. So how dare any of them suppose they comprehend the world they cannot see?
How dare I suppose to comprehend the world I cannot see?
Paul and I used to read a lot of Bill Bryson’s .. a brilliant writer!! I remember I would read his on a bus home and simply cannot stop the laughs that shoot out from the belly. He is witty and charmingly goofy. I recently saw someone holding a Bryson’s book on a plane ride. The picture simply sent me to flights of imaginations and I vividly recalled those days when I indulged in his writings simply for fun!! Yet this daunting question came to mind, “What good does it make to love reading his stuff?” The question stricken me to an upright position to re-calculate my motives and reprimand myself harbouring such a simple desire of enjoying one’s skilled use of words. I chuckled to myself and forgot about this daunting stale flavor on my taste bud. I was happy to vouchsafed this glimpse of daunting question without an answer.
Weeks later, as I was rummaging another book of another good writer. He quoted Bill Bryson’s right then and there. My eyes widened an inch bigger (I think!), my heart raced a few seconds faster! I was thrilled and I rushed to share this story with Paul, for indeed the Lord heard my little whimpering of my heart, “what good does it make to love reading his stuff?”
The Lord answered, “So you may KNOW that I KNOW you WELL and I KNOW you more than you think!”
Can you believe the God of universe shows me this in such a round-about traffic, just to deliberately show me He KNOWS me, even such a little speck of my love for some random writers and how He connects two random writers onto one single page, pg 92, in the middle of a hardcover book!!
So, what do I know? Turns out, NOT MUCH!!
He speaks so tenderly to the depth of my heart and I walk around to everywhere with such conviction even when the world is turning upside down. People get evicted from their home. Government policy says one thing and implements others. Children get exploited all over the world. Yet the Lord says, “I KNOW all. I KNOW you. I KNOW everything that is going on.”
In the end, that’s what matters. His anthropology matters more than my theology. His knowledge of me, secured by my love for Him, is more crucial, more defining, more determinative, than all the dogmatics I might ingest and digest and regurgitate in a lifetime. His most terrifying words are, “I never knew you.”, just as his most comforting are , “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”
Knowing I am known mostly comes through love. That’s why the people who are most Christlike are often least professor-like. Love doesn’t take immense brain power – that, in fact, often hinders it. What love requires is a deep love who longs to know and love you!
The most marvelous knowledge of all : KNOWING that the one I love is the one who KNOWS all things, KNOWS me and KNOWS how much I love him.