I once heard this story by Andrian Rogers. He was a great preacher from Memphis who could really bring a message. He told a story about a trip he took to Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. There are a lot of really smart people at JSC. Adrian met a PhD physicist and struck up a conversation. The doctor knew that Adrian was this great preacher and wanted to ask some questions about God. You see the doctor was an atheist. Adrian asked him a question. It was something like “you are a smart man, no doubt, but do you know everything about everything there is to know?” The doctor said “no of course since the smarter you are the more you know you don’t know.” Then Adrian asked him how much he knew. “If the entirety of knowledge is 100 how much do you have?” The doctor said “maybe 20%.” Then Adrian asked him “is it possible that the knowledge of God is contained in the 80% you don’t possess?” The doctor said it was possible. Then Adrian asked him “could the knowledge of God be found in perhaps the Bible?” The doctor agreed that may be true but how would one know that the Bible is true? Adrian told him that if the knowledge of God is found in the Bible then God would reveal that the Bible was true. The doctor saw it as a circular argument. Then Adrian asked him this question “have you ever read the Bible?” The doctor said no. Then Adrian challenged him that he may be missing a source of information that is critical to his learning, a portion of the 80% missing. He asked the doctor if he would perform an experiment of sorts and read a portion of the Bible. The doctor agreed. Adrian asked him to read the gospel of John. They shared other pleasantries but the encounter was over.
Some time later Adrian was on another trip and was in an airport. A man walked up to him and said hello. Now of course Pastor Rogers meets lots of people so he didn’t immediately recognize the man. This man introduced himself as the doctor from JSC and Adrian remembered. He asked the doctor how he was doing on his journey for knowledge. The doctor replied “I am a Christian!” He had read the book of John as requested and God revealed Himself to him. He now had the knowledge of God and so much more, he was born again.
I love that story. I think it says so much about us even as believers. “What!?!?” Yep, even as believers we are missing out on so much from our Daddy in heaven. We have been taught for so many years to watch out for the “deceiver” or the “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” All the while we have developed such a control paradigm that we are unwilling to hear. I talk about surrender a lot here, but I began to wonder if the idea of surrender was really understood? I think there is a fundamental understanding that will enable us to move forward. Surrender begin and ends with the mind. We have to give up control of “our understanding” to receive “His understanding.” We have the mind of Christ but need to surrender to think like Christ.
So you remember the story about how Jesus told the disciples to go across the lake and He would meet them there? They get in the boat and a big storm rolls in. They have been rowing and rowing against the wind for hours. It is getting desperate and so are they. Imagine how they felt. The last time they were in the boat and there was a storm, Jesus was with them and calmed the storm. So where was He now? I bet they were calling out to Him to rescue them. I bet they really wanted Him to calm the storm as He did before. They had an idea of how Jesus could save them. They had a thought, a plan, a predictable outcome based on past experience, then…
John 6:16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles,[b] they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened.
Did you see it? They were frightened! Jesus showed up in a miraculous way, a way they had never witnessed and they were scared. They had a pre-conceived notion of how Jesus might save them and He surprised them. Not only that but once they realized who it was and asked Him in, He saved them very differently than before. Check this out:
John 6:20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
OK. That is really cool. They had been laboring all night, scared by the storm, scared by Jesus “strange” arrival and then they get whisked away to the shore in a moment. I bet that was really unexpected, how about you?
Aren’t we like these disciples? Don’t we have an idea of what to expect and anything outside of that is rejected? Don’t we have “what we are comfortable with” at the exclusion of all else? Don’t we summarily reject anything that is outside our understanding? Aren’t we excluding the possible of God when it is impossible to us? We have to trust God with our very lives including our thoughts. We have to believe that God will protect us. He says that He will not leave us or forsake us. He says that He in us is greater than the deceiver in the world. We have to believe that God has our best interest at heart and wants nothing more than for us to know who He really is. When we are so bent on control instead of surrender we can’t hear, we are actually afraid. He says perfect love casts out fear. He says He is love. Do you believe it?
Every time the idea of deception is discussed in the New Testament it is in the context of self. Check it out for yourself.
Gal 6:7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.[a]
When we are operating from self, flesh, our desire for control, our failure to surrender in trust to God, we are actually positioning ourselves for deception. How do you like them apples? Check out what Paul says to Timothy.
2 Tim 3:5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people
Our fear of the Holy Spirit, or “being led by God” or surrendering our thoughts to His thoughts… is from the enemy. If we want to know God, if we want to experience God, if we want to be led by God, if we want to know the joy and goodness of God, we have to trust Him so much that we know we can’t be deceived. In that place Jesus on water is amazing, humbling, absolutely overwhelming not frightening. Are you willing to trust Him?