There’s something about Gabriel’s expression here — perhaps it’s the gleam in his eye or the cryptic half-smile that makes me think he knows something everyone else should. It reminds me of the iconic Mona Lisa, who for centuries has intrigued the world with the coy curvature of her lips and an enigmatic gaze that seems to follow her viewers around the room. If portraits could talk, I’m fairly sure both Gabriel and Lady Lisa would say:
If you know, you know.
Lately, I’ve been questioning what I “know." The older I get the less certain I am about many things. God knows, there’s great uncertainty in the world at large. Not only do I not fully know or understand the meaning or ramifications of world events, sometimes I don’t get what’s happening in my own backyard/pastures. Most days, I surrender with a shrug and say, “Lord, you know, you take care of it.” Other times, I search for signs, big and little, of what God is thinking, doing, saying — and how I should respond. Discernment is good, and God will send enlightening or directional “signs” if it pleases him, but more often than not, we’re prone to gaze at stars and our own navels with never a clue.
But here’s the thing. God never asked us to understand his thoughts and ways. How can we?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are my ways higher than your ways,
And my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Nope, God never asked us to understand because he knows we cannot do so on this side of heaven. But he does ask us to trust.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.
In all ways, acknowledge him and he will direct your path.”
~ Proverbs 3:5
In today’s culture, to “acknowledge” simply means to give a shout-out online or a nod to someone walking down the street. It might extend to heeding someone’s status or authority. We may acknowledge a gift, or concede to someone’s rights or right-of-way. We might wear a cross so that others take note that we're Christians. But that’s not the kind of acknowledgement the Bible’s talking about. The word “acknowledge” translated by most bible scholars is yada, a deeper, personal call “to know or recognize.”
Read in this light, in all ways, know/recognize him, and he will direct your path!
Prayer. Scripture. Worship. Conversation. The Lord is eager to be known! He left in his living Word an entire “Way” for us to know, follow, and imitate him. We’re directed to lean not on our own understanding but rather to lean into his. And as for “signs”? As much as we humans crave and clamor for special ones, all the signs of God’s sovereignty and providential love are already here, hiding in plain sight.
Lately, I’ve been pondering the poetry of Mary Oliver. In one of the poems in her book titled, “Devotions,” she audaciously writes:
Why do people keep asking to see
God’s identity papers
when the darkness opening to morning
is more than enough?
Certainly any god might turn away in disgust.
Think of Sheba approaching
the kingdom of Solomon.
Do you think she had to ask,
“Is this the place?”
In Luke 17, Jesus proclaims to those seeking a sign that "the Kingdom of God is among you." But where? Is this the place? Do we really have to ask? Most assuredly, its throne resides in the heart of every believer who acknowledges (knows/recognizes) Jesus as Lord and Savior.
For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.
In the face of every unknowable thing, Jesus is Lord of all.
Spread the Word!