I just started reading J. I. Packer’s Knowing God. I’ve heard a lot of great things about the book and thought that at this stage of my Christian walk, when I am struggling to understand the practical implications of salvation and the Christian life, that it would be a good book to read. After all, Packer says in his preface that instead of balconeers who just muse upon things they experientially know nothing of, “this is a book for travelers, and it is with travelers’ questions that it deals.” A traveler is out there experiencing and doing.
But I have gotten to chapter four and the book has convicted and saddened me of how much I don’t know God. It’s not that I have been living a sort of exterior Christianity or that my desire for God isn’t authentic. It’s that I don’t understand. I don’t get it. It’s kind of like a calculus problem for me: I can understand the basic idea, I can even follow someone solving a problem, but I can’t for the life of me solve a problem correctly on my own.
As I was reading tonight, I came across this part in chapter 3: “What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it–the fact that he knows me…He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters…God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love and watching over me for my good…his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me…”
As I read that, my heart stops. My throat gets tight. I can hardly believe it’s true. Literally. I can feel in my heart that being loved by God like that is my ultimate desire. I was made for God’s love–to live in it, thrive in it, and be transformed by it. But my heart seems so…closed right now. I keep waiting for salvation and a relationship with the God of the universe to make sense, for me to really understand why and how. How I want it to be true!! And deep in my heart of hearts, I know that it is. But I don’t believe it enough for it to transform me. The knowledge of that truth has no impact on me except for making me fall on my knees before the Father and admitting that I cannot understand anything about Him without the aid of the Holy Spirit. Truly, God’s ways are higher than mine and without His enlightenment, everything about Jesus and salvation is utterly confusing and incredulous.
My heart is saying, “Yes, this is the truth and love that I have been longing for,” but my mind is questioning, “Doesn’t it sound a little too good to be true?” My mind has been asking that very thing for the past several months. I believe that God has me questioning these things for a reason, that He has chosen to withhold understanding for a purpose, and I can only pray that this season will bring me into a deeper knowledge and understanding of Him in God’s time.