As a kid, I was someone who always knew what was going on with people at school. I was the first to be able to report the “did you hear?” gossip. The thing about being up on all “current events” is that not only does it provide a sense of power but it also prevents the fear of being taken off guard, startled or in any way having a “kick me” sign unnoticed on your back. Knowledge of pending plans allows for either the opportunity to effect change or for to plan so as not to be inconvenienced. More positively, knowing what is happening with people certainly allows for greater sensitivity or even accuracy in interpreting their words and behaviors. Knowledge, in many ways, is morally neutral, though possession of it can take my heart in both directions.
Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Luke 12:24-31
As we drove into the North Carolina mountains Friday night, just having crossed over from the South Carolina state line, Terrell and I could see the reflection of police lights flashing around the next curve. We were on a road that was totally dark, no cell reception, and until those flashing lights, we were the only car on that road for miles. Yet, when we made the turn, there were at least seven police cars lined up on both sides of the road with a few unmarked cars included in their rows. A policeman with his flashlight signaled for us to pull over behind another couple who at this point were both out of their car and dealing with another officer. There were entirely too many police cars in relation to the number of civilian cars coming through for this simply to be a DUI stop. As Terrell was showing the officer his license, I noticed another officer on my side of the car with his flashlight. It certainly seemed as if they were looking for someone specific. In former years, I would have expressed my curiosity by saying something casual like, “Everything all right?” or “Do we need to be concerned about something?” But this time, that impulse was restrained by life in our neighborhood.
On Valentine’s day, as Chad, Ellie, Martha Jane and I headed out to deliver goodies to our neighbors, we noticed a police car with his lights flashing around the corner from my parents’ house. So, of course, we changed our delivery route so we could “wander past” and see what was happening. Very nonchalantly we glanced as we made the turn in the other direction and we saw two police cars with their lights on parked behind a black mini-van, two women and a man interacting with the police out of their car. After making our delivery, we came back on our way home to discover a third police car with lights on and a prisoner transport van. The man was now handcuffed and by the time we got back up to our next door neighbor’s house, they were leading him into the van. Our next door neighbor assumed it was prostitution related though the ladies involved didn’t seem to be under arrest. If we hadn’t called her to the door for her homemade treat, she wouldn’t have even known this was happening. Sirens, blue lights, arrests and even gun shots are common place and not something that draws everyone outdoors or even makes the news in our neighborhood as it totally would have on the street where I grew up. My children have no sense that these things are out of the ordinary or might have been a show and tell event at school for me when I was their age. They are just facts about the world in which we live. Even when a home invasion accross the street actually made the news, the police wouldn’t really tell us anything about it.
So, when we passed all those police cars in the mountains, I now understood that they would do their job and my knowledge of their assignment was not relevant. Not everything that I think I am entitled to know is actually “need to know” stuff. As it turns out, a lot more about what goes on in the world is really not my business. But I usually think it is. I think it is my right to know if it exists to be known. Not knowing places me at a disadvantage, makes me more vulnerable and might even handicap me in decision making. This is what makes insider trading so enticing and why Mrs. Olsen on Little House on the Prairie found nothing wrong with eavesdropping on all the phone calls in Walnut Grove as the self-appointed switch board operator.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Prov. 3:5-6
This demand to be “in the know” is a fearfulness that disasters might be either imminent or avoided based on my knowledge and control of the situation. I can handle a wait better if I can just know ahead of time how long it will be. I can deal with my illness if I can just understand exactly what the treatment and cure will be. I can tolerate suffering if I can just know the purpose and exactly how it will serve a good purpose in the end. Turns out, like the police officers, I don’t need to know all this stuff for God to accomplish His very good purposes. He is omniscient so I don’t have to be. What I see though, is that at the root of this fearfulness in not knowing is a lack of trust that His knowledge is enough. I want oversight of the police, the elders, the faculty and principle. I want to double check with webMD and Consumer Reports. I have come to believe, like Adam and Eve, that I am more trustworthy as a final judge or supervisor than God. If my heart didn’t actually believe this, I would have no reason for worry and all forms of anxiety.
Does this mean that biblically I am to be passive in all things at all times? Of course not. It does mean, however, that if He is in the know, He will involve me in accordance with His good and perfect will and I won’t be able to miss or even avoid participation when He deems it necessary. I can even trust Him not to let me miss out because He withholds no truly good thing from His children. And I can trust Him to determine what the truly good things are and what they aren’t. He is the know and I am in Him and eventually, by grace, that will be enough.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:26-27