May 2018- Grabbing a piece of ……ummm…… Peace.. (piece 2)
“Why Knowledge Isn’t Power”
James 1 v 2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
I consider my wife and my daughter to be two of the most significant blessings that God has given to me and I could not imagine my life without them. Don’t get me wrong; we’ve certainly had our share of ups and downs. If I were to paint a picture of plain sailing and family perfection, it would be an exaggeration, to say the least. We are far from being a perfect family. We’re not perfect because we are real, honest and down to earth people. We hold different views, beliefs, and opinions. We disagree, sometimes we argue, but whatever happens, we are always united by the love that we have for each other. For me, that is what family is all about (As is doing precisely what my wife tells me).
I can confidently say that myself and my wife were shocked when we found out she was expecting. We had just moved into a new home and unknown to us, at the time of moving house, my wife was pregnant. (As I look back now, watching her move our fridge freezer into a new kitchen, I can’t help but feel a little bit guilty. More so when I asked her to help me move the cooker…..and the washing machine). Under normal circumstances, this would not win me the “Woman’s Weekly husband of the year award.” But, we were both in the dark in those first few weeks. Her pregnancy did not reveal itself until some weeks later with the onset of morning sickness (phew, thought it was my cooking. I Didn’t think you could go wrong with Pot Noodle).
Speaking for myself, it took some time for me to adjust to this news. As I Recall, it was a great shock. We had been married for ten years; we had bought a beautiful home and as enjoyable as this news was, it was also the last thing I expected my wife to tell me. (I was assuming “I’ve bought a new handbag”).
Like many women, the first few months of my wife’s pregnancy were difficult. She suffered from terrible morning sickness, cramps, and general discomfort. I tried, as do all husbands, to alleviate her symptoms as best I could, but pregnancy is and always will be, a formidable opponent.
During those early months (and unknown to my wife) I began to battle, not with the physical, but the mental aspects of being an expectant parent. Like all expectant Fathers before me, I had many unanswered questions. Was I ready for this? Would I be a good Father? Do I really have to get up at 3 am to change a nappy that looks like an oil tanker has had a spillage in it? With so many profound doubts in regards to this life-changing event, I found myself turning to the one place where I could ask these questions, without fear, embarrassment or hesitation. I turned to the Internet.
There is a saying that “knowledge is power” and it was my opinion the more I knew about being a parent, the better off I was. The more significant my understanding of becoming a father the more prepared I would be (boy, was I stupid) To me, at the time, the Internet seemed the ideal place to brush up and learn everything I needed to know, to prepare me for this, the greatest of human vocations.
Searching the information, I required on the Internet turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. It amazes me that something so complicated as the Internet can be so utterly stupid. Some of my more memorable Internet search results included “Man gives birth to baby boy.” “Bat child found in cave” and “Titanic baby found in life ring.” To be frank these weren’t really much use to me (other than to provide me with a wry smile) and they have since reinforced my belief that the information on the Internet is, at best, as much use as a chocolate tea-pot. What I did discover about the Internet is you 1) have to be very precise and 2) you have to persevere to get the information you’re after. If you’re prepared to enter your search phrase in 100 different ways, you will eventually receive something that resembles your original inquiry. (please note you can also go down to the library and get a book in a quarter of the time). It was after much searching, a few smiles and a lot of frustration that I finally began to discover what I could class as useful information.
In many respects, the information I was after was more specific than many other expectant parents. We were both what you could class as “Mature” parents to be. I was approaching my late thirties (but I won’t disclose my wife’s age as I’d like to hang onto my teeth for as long as I can). Being a bit older (speaking for myself, and my teeth of course) my internet search led me into many areas that I hadn’t expected. Many of them made for very uncomfortable and unsettling reading. Some were worrying, and others were, at best, the stuff your worst nightmares are made of. There was one thing I discovered that was greater than all the “worse case scenarios” I read about for mature parents. That was the discovery that “knowledge isn’t power.” I had assumed that the more I knew, the better off I would be. In reality, the more I knew, the less comfort I found I had. Knowledge wasn’t power; it was the destroyer of peace.
As I recall those days, I remember that I turned to prayer. My relationship with God was on a “need only” basis at the time, but he still saw me through some dark and worrying times. It was through prayer that I learned to let go of the knowledge I’d acquired and the anxiety it brought me. I’m pleased to say that all my fears that arose from the knowledge I gathered never came to pass. My wife never died in childbirth, and my daughter was born just as perfect as she could be. God used those days to teach me the truth to another saying we’re all familiar with…”It’s not WHAT you know…..Its WHO you know”. (Jeremiah 32 v 27).
Acts Chapter 16 v 15 – 40
Acts 16 v 25- “About midnight Paul & Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.
One of the great things that stands out from Paul & Silas prison experience is the peace that they possessed. This is more profound when we consider the knowledge they had in regards to the desperate situation they faced. Their knowledge tells them that they were imprisoned, chained, with no hope of escape and facing certain death (Acts 16 v 24). Despite this, their actions do not mirror the understanding they possess. If that were the case, it would be impossible for them to respond in the way they do (Acts 16 v 25) as this knowledge would result in despair, hopelessness, and resignation. It’s evident that Paul & Silas possess a greater beneficial knowledge that must be brought into the open. Just as this provided great hope to them, it too can help us.
If I’m honest, Paul & Silas know two things. Firstly, they know that the facts they possess about their situation do not determine its outcome. To worldly eyes, this knowledge would be irrefutable, with only one logical conclusion. But they choose to face these facts with spiritual, not physical vision. They know that it is God who determines the path they tread and the steps they take, not man (Psalm 37 v 23). It is this that leads them to the truth that knowledge (in regards to their situation and circumstances) isn’t power (Hebrews 11). Strength only comes through the death of knowledge (through Faith) and this, in turn, gives birth to peace (Jeremiah 29 v 11). Paul & Silas have this fantastic peace because they have crucified the facts that confront them. They have destroyed the knowledge they possess with faith. They choose not to face this situation with the facts but with the one who has overcome all knowledge, all facts and all circumstances (John 16 v 33).
What is your knowledge telling you about your situation? Are you being controlled by the facts that keep staring you in the face? Do you really believe that you are unemployable because letters of rejection say that? Do you think that your illness is life changing because that’s what the Doctors and test results tell you? Are you financial difficulties because your bank and your bank accounts state this is the case? Do you really believe this your last Christmas because you have been told there is no hope of recovery? Is your church on the verge of closing because the empty seats show you that?
The real beauty of the situations we face is what we know pales into insignificance in regards to what God knows (Isaiah 40 v 13-14). While we sometimes languish in the situations we face, under an avalanche of facts and knowledge, it is always God who will have the last say (Proverbs 16 v 1). What you know today does not and will not determine the outcome of tomorrow (Isaiah 41 v 10). Gods message to you this week through Paul and Silas’s experience is simply this. If we are prepared to crucify the facts, in faith, we can sit back and watch him crucify the situation we are in (Romans 8 v 37). Let God take the knowledge you possess and show it for what it really is. It is nothing; it determines nothing. When God brings you through your situation, there will only be one irrefutable fact. God is and always was, in complete control. (Jeremiah 29 v 11, Matthew 19 v 26, Job 12 v 10, Isaiah 45 v 6).
Only those who know knowledge isn’t power can “Count it as joy when they face trials of various kinds” James 1 v 2.