(I usually leave the writing about our hikes to Frances. However, I thought I'd share a few considerations this week of recent journey in Grayson Highlands National Park, Virginia.
I'll never forget the look of surprise that appeared on the man's face as he passed by me while struggling up a steep mountain path. Our encounter began as Frances and I stepped aside for two hikers to make their way up the path on a very warm day in the mountains of Virginia. I said hello, but one of the men responded by shaking his head and saying, breathlessly, "German!" I understood him to mean that he spoke no English, and nodded with a smile of acknowledgement. It then occurred to me that the only two words I remember from my college German class nearly four decades ago would be an appropriate response. Indeed, my "Guten tag!" (good day) elicited a look of surprise on the gentleman's face, along with the seeming expectation that I would continue with further conversation in German. Having exhausted my vocabulary in that language, I continued to smile as the man passed by. He was in no condition for a conversation, so we parted ways with what seemed to be gratitude on his face, and what was surely relief on mine that we didn't have further time or opportunity to converse!
The episode reminded me of the Apostle's Paul's revelation that we require the Holy Spirit to rightly understand and interpret God's revelation.
"The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (I Corinthians 2:10-12).
Apart from the Holy Spirit, no human being would have the slightest capacity to "know the things that are freely given to us of God." We can understand to an adequate degree the factual concepts of Scripture. The Bible presents its fundamental truths in propositional language a child can comprehend. Spiritually processing its truth, however, requires the Spirit of God to apply the Truth of God in a manner that each individual can personally receive. As the saying goes, the Author comes with His Book to those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, we humbly acknowledge our need and confidently affirm the Holy Spirit's guidance as we seek God in His Word. "Howbeit, when He the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13).
If the German gentleman and I could have conversed, we would have required an interpreter to hold an intelligent conversation. The same is true in our communion with God in the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit moves upon the face of Biblical waters to glorify and reveal the Lord Jesus Christ in a manner that interprets the Savior to us according to the language of God's purposes and our need. Christ remains merely historical to those who seek to understand the Bible apart from the Holy Spirit's illumination. He becomes personal to the believer who seeks both the face and the fact of God in His Word. Guten tag! A good day indeed is any day when we open the Bible to seek the Lord Jesus, as led by the Holy Spirit…
"Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him."
"Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
(II Corinthians 3:17-18)
Weekly Memory Verse
"Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass."
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