Our church is going through the Gospel of John and several of our congregation are writing short devotionals to challenge us in our faith. Here is a very provocative one from one of our elders, Dr. Lindsay Hislop:
What We Do Not Need to Know
I dropped out of college in Florida and went to work. Then there was a year of Bible college and marriage and kids. At age thirty-five I came to Columbia with the family to start college again. Five years later I began teaching, and six years after that I finished my formal education. That is when, looking back on the wonderful support of Pam and the sacrifices of our kids along with her, I wrote these words: “If God had shown us the way beforehand, we may not have set out on it; in His goodness He did not, and we did, and He saw us through.” God in His grace does not show us the future.
Beginning in John 13 and going through His prayer in chapter 17, Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure. They needed to understand that He would leave them. In 13:36 Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And in 14:5 Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus had just said, “I am going to prepare a place for you.” And, of course, from our Monday-morning-quarterback position, we know what He meant. But imagine the puzzlement of these men with none of the advantages we have. They were about to embark on the great adventure of beginning to plant the church around the world, and they had no idea of what lay in their paths.
God graciously hides the future for two reasons. First, if we knew the roadblocks and detours we will face, we may be afraid to go on with the journey. Will we face illness or injury, conflict or confusion, trial or trouble of any kind? The Lord knows, and graciously we do not. These are the things that teach us to walk by faith, and we need the spiritual exercise they bring. These are part of the “all things” that God causes to work together for our good.
But there is another reason: if we knew the blessings that lie ahead of us, we may fall into complacency. We may just rest on the Lord with no exercise of faith and never grow to maturity. Like a child with no exercise we would become weak and listless. The blessings will surprise us in their time, but we need to look for them by faith. We need to pay the price of the field not knowing the value of the treasure that lies buried there.
God is gracious, and graciously He keeps us in the dark about what we do not need to know.