I work in what many see to be a “knowledge” business. It’s my job to help people learn about God. I love what I do, and I think that it’s the most important job in the world. But I am also keenly aware (more as I grow older) that there are aspects of knowledge that are more “caught than taught”. Our society has come to see knowledge as something we have, something we acquire. We gain knowledge about God through study and reflection. While this is true, it’s only part of the story. The words used in the Bible (the Greek and Hebrew) for “knowing” often carry more of an experiential connotation. We learn about things in a relationship with them. No one would dispute this. Until you have lost a loved one to death you know about grieving as a concept, but the experience of grief helps you to “know” it in a totally different way.

When it comes to issues of God and faith, our society (and church too) has often framed them in terms of intellectual concepts. The mind is important, and we need to learn these profoundly true ideas, but there is a deeper knowing that comes from experience. One like my friend Leanne had as she battled with cancer. (Read about that here.) It’s a learning that doesn’t take place in a classroom or a sanctuary. It’s a learning described in a poem that I have grown to love called “june 10”.

i don’t know much about flowers
i don’t know their names
or how they like to grow
in sun or shade
in the morning or night
i don’t know where they began
or how they traveled
by boat or by bird
and whether or not the rain makes them shiver or bloom
but i know how they lean
and bend toward the light
wide open as if singing
their voices (silent but everywhere)
fill up the daytime
a song much more than purple
and beyond every red
a song that makes me stop and listen
and forget
and not care at all
that i don’t know much
about flowers
— Julie Fogliano in When Green Becomes Tomatoes (2016)

Knowing about God is important. But my hope is that we all know about Him in a deeper way, one that is hard to explain. May God reveal Himself to you this week in ways that make you “stop and listen.”

Jeff KuhnComment