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Plumbing the Depths

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36)

     When I was in the 9th grade, my father took me down into the coal mine where he had worked for forty years. Up to this point, all I knew of the mines was what I might have read in a text book or gleaned from the small mine that became a tourist attraction near me. I did know that my father came home from work every day black from head to toe. My mother would wash his clothes in an old wringer washer whose water would turn as black as my father had been. And yet I did not truly understand what my father did. In order to do that, I had to plumb the depths of the mine with him.

     My father only talked about what he did there and what the various places in the mine were called, but offered no commentary. It was only many years later that I came to understand that he was shouting very loudly to me: “Son, please don’t choose the same path that I’ve walked.” I got the message, loud and clear.

     This hymn at the end of the 11th chapter of Romans is a reminder of the vast difference between humanity and our creator. He pictures God’s wisdom and knowledge as being like a bottomless gold or silver mine (or maybe a coal mine), riches without limitation. Some see knowledge as the accumulation of information while wisdom is understanding how to correctly apply information. Knowledge, information, might be called a common commodity compared to wisdom, which is scarce. The last century has seen an unprecedented explosion of knowledge, but without a comparable increase in wisdom.

     It is oftentimes tempting to question why God does, or allows, certain things. And it is tempting to play the ‘If I Were God’ game. You know how it goes. If I were God, I would abolish disease, earthquakes, and hurricanes. If I were God, so and so would not have been elected. If I were God, I would smite all child abusers.

     But the truth is that I am not God. I cannot begin to understand why he does, or allows, what he does. His inner counsels are hidden from me. He has never come to me asking for my advice on some situation. As much as I learn and understand, it is only a drop in the bucket compared to the depth of God’s wisdom and knowledge. Indeed, the total wisdom and knowledge of mankind falls far short of the depth and breadth of God’s wisdom and knowledge.

     God’s desire is that we trust him like little children. Instead, we too often act like know-it-all teenagers, thinking that we know better than our creator.

     God has given us a bottomless mine full of treasures regarding His greatness and majesty, grace and mercy, love and long-suffering. The deeper you mine, the more treasure you find. Let us seek to plumb the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God He has revealed to us in His Word. And let us pray this: “Lord, even as I seek understanding, help me to trust in you and not in my own understanding.”