Everyone who has children knows what it is like to take them somewhere and hear them repeat, “Are we there yet?” We think they are impatient, but mostly they just lack any sense of distance, time passing, and something to do while they wait.
Sometimes I’m a bit like that with God. I pray for understanding or direction, and He is silent. I want Him to talk to me, to give me words to say, or help with a decision, or give insight into how to handle a problem, but He is quiet.
Silence from children can be a relief, but the silence of God is usually perplexing and often distressing. When other people won’t talk to me or answer my questions, I think they are angry with me or being rude. I know that is not true of God, but what is He doing? Why is He so quiet?
My reading today gives me one reason. In John 16, Jesus says to His disciples, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”
In these words, Jesus told them several things. One is that the Holy Spirit would tell them what they needed to know. Secondly, they could recognize Him because His words would be from the Father, and they would glorify the Son. In other words, the Spirit will not draw attention to Himself. Third, they didn’t know all the truth yet (no one does), but He would guide them into all truth.
Obviously He did all those things, and as the Holy Spirit revealed truth to them, they wrote it down and it is in our hands as Holy Scripture. But what strikes me is that, at that point in their spiritual journey, they could not bear the many things He wanted to tell them. They were not ready for it.
When my children were pre-school age, I never would have sat them down and given them a lesson in general accounting, or ancient history, or trigonometry. They simply would not understand what I said and the entire effort would be a waste of time. Not only that, I could create a stumbling block to their interest in learning, maybe even in their trust of me to help them with more relevant issues in life. Lessons must suit the students.
It’s a humbling thought to realize that Jesus knows me, and my needs and abilities better than I know myself. He also knows what I need to know for today and for the future. When I come with questions, like a good teacher, He will answer them when I need the answer. He loves me too much to dump trig on me when all I need is two plus two.