The Secret and Hidden Wisdom of God

The Secret and Hidden Wisdom of God

• It was a deep, rich, and wonderful time in the UK with our son Luke, his wife Bekah, and their newborn son Charles. Thank you all for your prayers. The attached photos are at Durham Cathedral where graduation took place. The earliest parts of the cathedral were constructed around 1,000 years ago. Both Bede and Cuthbert are entombed there (worth looking up). The photo of Luke leaving the ceremony (blurred because I used the wrong shutter speed) will give you a sense of the interior, which is magnificent.

“Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.” — 1 Cor 2:6-7

• How do we begin to see our own lives, our own world, as God sees them? One of the most difficult aspects of having a mind renewed in Christ (Rom 12:2) is learning to see when our own ordinary rationality—call it common sense—is in conflict with the mind of Christ and the word of God. For example, it seems natural to us that if we lack food and clothing, we should go out and get a job. But Jesus says explicitly that if we lack food and clothing, we should “seek first” the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Mt 6:25ff), and our needs will be met as a matter of God’s love and care. It’s a little like saying the shortest distance between points A and B goes through Z. It offends reason and the “wisdom of this age.” But it’s perfectly in keeping with the “secret and hidden wisdom of God.”

• Without knowing it, we often make this shift in reasoning when crisis hits. Crisis involves the breakdown of ordinary cause-and-effect relationships. Things we desperately need, emotional or material, can no longer be had through the usual channels. We are driven to our knees. When that moment arrives, we’ve made the crucial shift from the “wisdom of this age” to the “secret and hidden wisdom of God.” Seeking solutions, or maybe just an end to our pain, we arrive at seeking God himself. With time we learn that the place we’ve come to at the end of the painful process is the place where we should have begun. As this becomes second nature to us — going first to our knees rather than turning to our own wisdom and solutions — we begin to live by the secret wisdom of God. Our crises take on a different appearance and meaning after that. So much more is happening than just pain and difficulty. God is at work in us, transforming us by the renewal of our minds. He is himself the answer to the crisis and he will shelter us in the shadow of his wings. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

• To speak this way is not irrational (the absence of reason), but non-rational (in conflict with human reason). I think this is the nub of it: learning to mistrust our own reasoning. Maybe a better way to say it is: “learn to distinguish those moments when you are trusting in your own reasoning rather than the wisdom of God.” Both are at work in us, and we have to silence the one and listen carefully and patiently for the other. This is an ancient battle, so Solomon said, “lean not on your own understanding.”

• So here’s a first step: embrace God’s many contrary statements. Don’t fight them in your spirit, but start to ask yourself what they really mean. Look for the deeper thing God is doing. I’m thinking, “pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44); or “stop protecting your life and how you want it to turn out” (Mt 16:25); or “take delight in being insulted” 2 Cor 12:10; or “storing up wealth makes your future more unstable” (Lk 12:18); or “Jesus came to pit you against your own family” (Mt 10:35). Historically these have been called “hard sayings.” That’s a description entrenched in the wisdom of this age. They are, rather, a deeper wisdom; a wisdom in conflict with our flesh, but in harmony with the secret and hidden wisdom of God. It was this Jesus was testing for when he said, time after time, “for him who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Imagine how it would please the Lord, and fill our own hearts and lives, to have those ears.