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  • Writer's pictureTim Hemingway

Hear God in 2022

I doubt that a life-time of talking to my wife and hearing her responses would serve to unearth the length and breadth of every part of her character, or plumb the depths of her thoughts and emotions, or discern all her plans and designs, or capture all her desires and fears. Every time I ask her something, I learn, from her response, something about her - even when the response sounds like one I've heard before.

Deb, as much as I love her (I know she won't mind me saying) is only finite. Her character is limited (as is mine). Her thoughts are prosaic at times (as are mine). Though she has deep thoughts and complex emotions, they are only relatively deep. Because, even though I find her to be a particularly three-dimensional human being, she's actually very one-dimensional - that is, in comparison with the God who made her. Our God. We are all one-dimensional (even the best of us) in comparison with Him. Which means that, if I have no expectation of knowing my own wife fully, in my life time - though I were to ask and listen attentively my whole life long, then how much more is God inscrutable to our finite minds?

That sounds, as I write it, like an argument against what I'm arguing for in this article, but I know from experience it's not. A natural thought generated by the paragraph you've just read might be, 'well, if God is so inscrutable to my finite mind, what hope have I got of knowing him fully?' I recognise that thought in my own mind, and it is true - there is no hope of knowing him fully. But to conclude on the basis of that fact, that it's not worth trying to know him fully - or as fully as we can know him - is not only a mistake, it doesn't tally with experience.

No matter how 'un-plumbable' my wife's mind and heart might be, that doesn't cause me to give up asking her questions and listening for answers - that's my experience. I love her, so naturally I want to know her better, no matter how futile the notion is that I will ever know her completely. To know her better tomorrow than today will improve my enjoyment of her. To know her only as well as I do right now, and never any more than I do right now, will cause my delight in her to stagnate. Who wants their joy to stagnate?

The same impulse should be at work as we seek to know and appreciate God more. As impossible as it is to know him fully, to know him better than we do now is our deepest delight, for no better reason than he is more valuable than anything or anyone else. To know more of his character, more of his ways, more of his designs, more of his likes and dislikes, more of his thoughts, is to know Him more. Since he really is our deepest soul's satisfaction, our delight in him rises and falls according to our pursuit of Him. Every day we know him better, is a day our delight in him rises. Every day we don't probe him to know him better, is a day our delight in him stagnates.

Here's what Jeremiah said,

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.

Stagnation is not an option for Jeremiah because he wants his heart to be delighted in the Lord and for his joy to rise, not stagnate. The means of ensuring that delight, and increasing that joy, for Jeremiah, was God's words. When they came, he didn't abstain. When they came, he consumed them.

Our reading of God's word is the equivelent of me asking questions of my wife every day and listening carefully to the answers. By that interrogation of God's Word about himself and our apprehension of what he says in it, we know him better. If we do that every day, we know him better every day. If you want your delight in God to rise each day, hear him speak each day - and it will.

How sweet are your words to my taste,

sweeter than honey to my mouth!

(Psalm 119:103).

In my experience the best way to ensure that God's Word is my daily food, is by carving out a regular and dedicated time in my busy daily schedule to read it. And in my experience the best way to get the most out of his Word is to read the length and breadth of it, because all of it is breathed out by God and useful - all of it! I know that a plan doesn't suit everyone, but I doubt anybody has found anything that is better than a plan for ensuring God's word is heard regularly and extensively. And that is what we need - both frequency and expansiveness.

With that in mind here is the plan Deb and I use each year to read the whole bible through when the kids are in bed, and the day is at last quiet. You might find it helpful in 2022 also.


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