A few days ago, right before the start of the winter term, I was working on putting my syllabus together when I noticed an odd discrepancy: though I’d been assigned to teach a Tuesday/Thursday class by the university, the course schedule listed me as teaching a Monday/Wednesday one.
A call to the school cleared things up. The university had switched the class I was teaching – without telling me! I was as much irritated as relieved. What if I hadn’t called in to check? What if I hadn’t noticed the discrepancy? What if I’d missed the first day? I complained to my mom and my husband; I rolled my eyes at the university’s lack of organization.
But when I watched the news that night my complaints withered. On the day that I’d originally planned to travel to school, forecasters predicted our first major snowstorm of the year: one that, as it turned out, would have forced me to cancel classes and miss the very first day…
…if, that is, my schedule hadn’t changed so suddenly.
God had blessed me, certainly. But what I realized suddenly was that He’d blessed me without me knowing. I perceived the schedule change as an irritation, a bewildering happenstance that occurred out of nowhere. Without that weather forecast to give me perspective – to help me see the gift – I’d have trundled on unaware. It makes me wonder how much of God’s work I normally miss.
There’s a lot of what God does – and of what God does for us – that we don’t know. And often we don’t know that we don’t know. The Bible tells us that “Jesus performed many more signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book” (John 20:30). In the next chapter, John adds an intriguing postscript:
Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written (21:25).
God’s thundering monologue to Job reminds us of this, too. “Who is this,” God marvels to the human cowering before him, “that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?” (38:1). The response that follows is a reminder: much of God’s work on our behalf, much of who God is and what God thinks about and does, is unseen, unknown, literally incomprehensible to our small and human minds.
The Bible is the sum total of the knowledge we have been given about God and about Christ – it is not the sum total of all that there is. And I find it useful to keep my own ignorance and God’s invisible work in mind, always. For every irritation, for every bewildering happenstance, for every question I hurl at the sky, there remains a vast realm of knowledge that exists beyond my scope and understanding.
What I know of God isn’t all there is. The brief moments where I glimpse flashes of His invisible work remind me of that, and they keep me both humble and hungry to see more.