Kind of interesting how observations from two completely unrelated passages can come together to get the mind churning. Something I read this morning from a preacher and then a reminder concerning a prophet came together and started me thinking. Noodling on this journey of faith we are on and wondering “what if.” What if, back then, I had known all that would lie ahead? What if, when I received Christ as Savior and started to run the race set before me, I had been given a detailed program of every stage of the race? What if I had a play-by-play description of all that would lie ahead of me–every mountain top, every valley? Every victory, every defeat? Every blessing, every hardship? If I knew then what would befall us now, would I still embrace the journey. By God’s grace, I think I still would.
Here’s how it played out this morning. First observation? Something Solomon wrote.
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. . . . “For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.”
(Ecclesiastes 1:1, 18 ESV)
Modern translation: Ignorance is bliss. Yeah, it is. Hard (though not impossible) to get bent out of shape about something that isn’t even on the radar. But apply your heart as Solomon did to “search out wisdom and all that is done under the sun” (1:13) and set that in the brain of a guy with the IQ that David’s son must have possessed, and that’s a lot to handle! Especially when so much of it seems to make so little sense “under the sun.” So that was the “set up” for what grabbed me afresh in my next reading.
Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. . . . They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the LORD, to deliver you.”
(Jeremiah 1:4-5, 19 ESV)
Modern translation: I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news. Good news? I am God, I formed you, I knew you before you were born, and I have called you to be my spokesman. Not so good news? Most won’t want to listen. In fact, a lot of them won’t settle for just an apathetic deafness but will respond with aggressive opposition. And it’s gonna hurt . . . sometimes a lot! It’ll be a battle at times, a battle you’ll feel like your losing. But . . . and this is a pretty big BUT . . . they shall not overcome you, for I am with you.
So how’s that for “God made you and has a wonderful plan for your life?” Jeremiah was told up front that his race wouldn’t just be a marathon . . . it would be an extreme endurance race through an obstacle course he couldn’t fully imagine. Ignorance gone . . . the bliss disappears. Buckle up, Jeremiah!
And he did. By God’s grace . . . clinging to God’s promise . . . drawing on God’s enabling Power, Jeremiah still sets out to be God’s man doing God’s work knowing more about God’s plan for his life than most of us ever do.
And so I think to myself, “Self, what about you? If God had revealed to you all that would lie before you on that day He revealed Himself to you, would you still?” And I sit here this morning finding myself answering, “If I knew . . . I still would.”
Not because of anything I am. Not gonna find me signing up for an “Iron Man” or a Spartan obstacle course of any kind. It’s just not in me. And I still would, not just because the blessings have far exceeded the hardships, but because of something else that jumped off the page in my last reading this morning:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
(James 1:2-4 ESV)
If I knew, I still would . . . because I believe God’s word is true. That His promises are sure. And so, I trust God through it all–the mountains and the valleys–to complete the work He has begun in us (Php. 1:6). That He allows our faith to be tested so that it might bear the fruit of patient endurance. And that patient endurance will be one of the tools used to chisel the very nature of Christ into us as He conforms us to the image of His Son (8:29). And that the grace which has led us safe thus fall, will also lead us home. That everything endured “under the sun” is just that, “under the sun.” But it will give way one day to beholding the Son of glory, in a state “perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” And the former things will pale in comparison.
Honestly, I’m good with a bit of “bliss.” Don’t need to know a lot about tomorrow. Enough to handle today.
But I know who holds tomorrow. And He whispers in my ear, “They shall not prevail against you, for I am with you.”
If I knew . . . I still would.
By His all-sufficient grace. For His all-deserving glory.