This is the second of my lenten reflections on Knowing God (see the first post here). I’m not going to be blogging my way through every chapter, but only bits and pieces that strike me particularly. Well, I was especially struck when reading the chapter ‘Knowing and Being Known’:
What happens is that the almighty Creator, the Lord of hosts, the great God before whom the nations are as a drop in a bucket, comes to him and begins to talk to him, through the words and truths of Holy Scripture. Perhaps he has been acquainted with the Bible and Christian truth for many years, and it has meant nothing to him; but one day he wakes up to the fact that God is actually speaking to him – him! – through the biblical message. As he listens to what God is saying, he finds himself brought very low; for God talks to him about his sin, and guilt, and weakness, and blindness, and folly, and compels him to judge himself hopeless and helpless, and to cry out for forgiveness. But this is not all. He comes to realise as he listens that God is actually opening His heart to him, making friends with him, and enlisting him a colleague – in Barth’s phrase, a covenant partner. It is a staggering thing, but it is true – the relationship in which sinful human beings know God is one in which God, so to speak, takes them on to His staff, to be henceforth His fellow-workers (see 1 Cor. 3:9) and personal friends.
As Packer says, it is indeed a ‘staggering thing’: God, the almighty God of the universe, should choose to makes us his fellow-workers and even friends! I feel like I’ve been particularly convicted lately of my unworthiness in many respects – why would God use me and how could God use me? But it is true – I believe God has worked through me in the past and will again in the future.
It’s an incredible thing to be used in God’s service, despite the fact that – as Isaiah puts it, ‘all our righteous acts are like filthy rags’ (Isaiah 64:6).
In our sermon series at church the last couple of weeks we’ve been going through the story of Joseph in Genesis. In a few weeks (10th March) I will be preaching on the portion of the story which contains this brilliant phrase: “But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance” (Genesis 45:7). Although Joseph’s brothers didn’t intend any good through what they did to him, nonetheless God did intend it for good – and raised Joseph up to be a key part of His plan!
It’s encouraging to think that things don’t always have to look like they’re going to plan in order to be part of God’s plan. And it’s amazing to think that God would use even people such as me and you as part of his plan.