THINGS WE DO NOT KNOW WE DON’T KNOW Andy Hollifield 8-25-18
Psalms 44:21 Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.
Does that title sound familiar? It is part of a quote from Donald Rumsfeld, former secretary of Defense from 2001-2006, taken from a briefing on February 12, 2002. He said this in regards to US military intelligence in Iraq. I have thought a lot about this because to be honest, it sounds kind of stupid until you actually get to thinking about it. Just as with any occupation, there are things that we can’t possibly know until we are trained in that occupation. Only then can you know all the things that you previously did not know that you did not know.
I have found that it is also that way in ministry. If you base what you do on what results you see, it is likely that you will not do too much for the Lord for very long. I would hate to think that all I have accomplished in ministry is just what I know about. I am counting on the fact that God knows the very intent of the heart. He knows how each message is received and who he sent it for and how much impact each word or action has on someone’s life. Those are things that we can’t possibly know. I heard a friend named Roger, give his testimony recently in which he spoke about something one of our mutual friends, Bobby, had said to him years before. When Roger was backslid on the Lord and not living at all where he should have been, Bobby told him; “I am going to pray the hounds of heaven down on you.” That one comment helped get Roger under conviction and bring him back to the Lord. Bobby had no idea that anything he said when talking to Roger had sunk in. I am sure that he had no way of knowing that Roger remembered that one statement in their conversation for all these years.
While delivering backpacks this week I was again reminded of this truth about what we don’t know. A lady in one of the agencies that we work with told me something that thrilled my soul. I had taken I think, four cases of bibles to her back at Easter to be given out to their clients during their weekly food distribution. She said they just placed them on the table and just left them there. She asked for more because every one of them had been taken. That is 96 bibles. She even told me of one client that was really bad on drugs. She said this person was extremely impaired when she came to get food. Even in her severely impaired condition, she picked up one of the bibles and looked at it and took it with her. Nothing was said and it wasn’t offered to her but something made her pick it up and take it home. There is no way of knowing what was going through that lady’s mind that caused her to pick up that bible. We have no way of knowing what the result may be. She may even accept the Lord because of that agency having a food distribution and having that bible available. We may never know until we get to heaven.
I know I use this verse a lot in my writing but Isaiah 55:11 is one of my favorite verses of scripture. It says, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” That is the Lord speaking to Isaiah in that chapter. When it was penned down by the author under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, it became a written guarantee. That means that every verse of scripture that we hand out or give in a backpack or Easter basket or shoebox gift is guaranteed by the Lord to produce results in someone’s life. There are a lot of things that I might say to people that will soon be forgotten but God’s word will eventually take root in a person’s heart.
I was speaking to a lady in my church years ago as a young preacher and she was asking if I had been preaching a lot and how things were going. I told her that I just wished I could see people get saved. A deacon heard me say that and told me to read my bible because that was none of my business. I asked him to show me the scripture and he turned to Isaiah 55:11. He then told me that my job was to preach the word and God’s job was to produce the results. While it almost made me mad, the more I thought about it the more liberated I became. The weight of the world was lifted off of my shoulders when I realized that I was only responsible for being obedient to the Lord and not for whether or not it was received. What a blessing to know that long after I give out a bible or tract or verse of scripture to someone, God continues to work. My prayer for that lady that picked up the bible is that God will continue to speak to her heart.
Paul even said in 1 Corinthians 3:6 “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” Matthew 6:19-20 speaks about laying up treasures in heaven. My prayer and desire is that there will be far more that is laid up over there than what I see here. I have kind of embraced the fact that “I don’t know what I don’t know.” Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!