If You Had Only Known

Are you tracking destiny in this season of life?  Solidly connecting with the Lord each day of life?  Is his word and calling your primary guidance source?

I am asking myself questions like these this Lent.  A friend recommended a daily Lenten study that is drawing me into Jesus’ journey to the cross.  

Day 16 shadows Jesus’ emotions and actions following his “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem that we now mark as Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. Luke captures Jesus’ sobering words as he processes on a colt into Jerusalem.

“If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace--but now it is hidden from your eyes.”  (Luke 19:42, NIV)

Then, a chilling prophecy about the fate of the holy city that would be fulfilled just 50 or so years later.

“The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19: 43-44, NIV)

The passage riveted me.  Whereas I generally read this as a modern observer of past history, not this time.

“If you … had only known what would bring you peace….”

You, as in me!  My first thought, “Do I know what brings me peace?”  

Peace from living up, syncing in my giftedness, purposeful, relationally strong, nurturing others in my life and who cross my path, in tune with my Lord, resisting temptation and keeping short accounts when I falter.

Some of that is going on but way too often I’m skidding right by the sweet spots.  Overly focused on myself, I am often disappointed, even angry, when things do not go my way. Instead of automatically taking my doubts and questions to the Lord, too often I cheat by soothing myself with escapism which only leaves me feeling guilty and crippled.  

I, I, I, me, me, me.  See the pattern?  Searching for peace where it cannot be found.

When I repent, doubt often lingers as I wonder how much longer the Lord will tolerate me. How long until his offer of peace is withdrawn, no longer available - “hidden from my eyes?”

Here is where regular reading, studying and meditating on Scripture pays off. One of many promise rises from my memory.

“persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:9, NIV)

My take is that Jesus’ frightening warning regards those who refuse his redemption invitation.  Many years ago, the Lord’s persistent pursuit of me FINALLY broke through my hard heartedness.  Now I pray for others to also let the Lord in. I believe the invitation extends through our mortal lifetimes.

So if not from God, the discouragement and fear comes from elsewhere.  Scripture instructs that its hold on us continues until we resolve to deploy the tools God puts into the hands of every believer - his word, obedience, and faith.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6: 11-12)

I love that about the Christian faith - lots of mind, body and soul engagement.  Nothing mamby pamby about it.

From Day 15 of the study: “Actions reveal beliefs because beliefs inspire actions.”  

To give myself over to sin is to reveal diminished belief in God.  Fortunately, God only sees me only through the lens of Jesus so while my grip on him may be feeble at times, his hold on me is not.

True peace in this life is ONLY found in the Lord.

You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
— Isaiah 26:3, ESV

We trust and he holds  How very peaceful.



Lent study: “40 Days of Decrease” by Alicia Britt Chole



One of many benefits of serving as an elder for our church is discussions lead by our pastor at the beginning of our meetings.  Last week’s discussion regarded Hebrews 4:12.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
— Hebrews 4:12, NIV

In this case, the “the word of God” is Scripture, God’s written word.

We customarily think about Scripture as the basis for God’s commands, standards, positions, and expectations, often quoting verses to support a lesson, point or premise.  I draw upon Scripture in every Road Report post.

I wonder how often recipients and readers skate past or around verses, not really taking them in. Alongside a premise being supported, perhaps Scripture poses certain challenges.  Spoken or written, chiseled in stone or displayed on a poster or screen, Scripture activates that “sharper than any double-edged sword” effect noted by the writer of Hebrews - penetrating, dividing, judging….

Scripture is irrefutably from and about God.  Even if used incorrectly or out of context, Scripture is God speaking.

Through the prophet Isaiah, God emphatically said this about his word.

“ is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
(Isaiah 55:11)

My word does NOT return to me empty, insists God.  It ALWAYS accomplishes the purpose for which I sent it.  Here, Scripture stands alone with an ironclad guarantee from the author himself.

We take a risk when we use Scripture to undergird teaching or prayer or to support a point or anchor a vow.  Why?  Because, regardless of how we see it or how pure our intentions, we can’t really know God’s desire or purpose for any word he offers.  Here again, God explains through Isaiah.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts."
(Isaiah 55: 8-9, NIV)

“These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,” said Jesus.  (see John 5:39, NIV). Scripture is about God, not us.

“It is God’s self-revelation, literally a book authored by God that unveils his heart, mind, and Spirit," noted author Samuel Williamson. "Someone once said, ‘We come to Scripture not to learn a subject but to steep ourselves in a person.’”

Consider approaching Scripture not as a what but a who.  Meditate on God’s memoir to become familiar with his manner, tone, inflection, longings, inclinations, tendencies, passions and principles.

Given the risks, we venture into Scripture primarily because God intended this word for us, relentlessly inviting us to engage with him.  

Come now, and let us reason together, Says the Lord, (Isaiah 1:18, NASB)

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; says the Lord to his prophet Jeremiah and to us (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV)

If we sincerely seek him, he assures we are safe with him because he alone knows our heart, our true intent even if we miserably fail to say what we intend or use Scripture “incorrectly.” *

We may not be safe with people but we are always safe with God.  Even though he is not predictable or controllable or tame, he is good.  By regularly encountering him in his word, his voice can become intimately recognizable and familiar without any reverence due him being lost.

(For a brief listing of some verses featuring many attributes, see my companion post, “In His Own Words.” )

“God speaks mostly in whispers,” said Williamson.  “The secret to a lifetime of hearing him lies in learning to distinguish his voice from the clamor of other voices in our lives.”  He then concludes:

“The best way to become familiar with God’s voice is to meditate on His Word, just as the best way to spot a counterfeit is to spend lots of time with the real thing.”

Williamson’s counterfeit analogy struck me.  Scripture meditation tweaks my spirit to be at ease when Scripture’s use resonates with how God revealed himself in his word. Conversely, my spirit cringes when Scripture is used to a manner that seems unlike God’s revelation of himself in his word.  

Far from reliable on this, I am grateful to trusted advisers for catching and correcting my own foibles and abuses.  This is a perfect role for the Church - the fellowship of believers with whom we work out our faith together.

In the end, our saving grace is God himself, who knows our hearts, and his word that stands alone in speaking for itself and him. Only by him are we righteous.  Despite our best or worst intentions, we are unable to thwart or even improve God’s intentions and purposes.

Rather, God invites us to participate in his redemptive purposes.  The privilege is all ours.

Meditate on God’s Word to become familiar with him and to hear his voice in your life and regarding the matters you encounter along the way.  Through Scripture, our love for God grows along with our realization of how much we matter to him.



1. Image source:

2. How can Jesus and the Bible both be the Word of God?

3. Scriptures about God's various attributes: See related Road Report Journal post: “In His Own Words.”

4. God knows our hearts: See 1 Kings 8:9; 1 Chronicles 28:9; 1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 44:21; Psalm 139: 2-23; Ezekiel 11:5; Matthew 9:4 and many others

5. Samuel Williamson's books is "Hearing God in Conversation."

In His Own Words

In writing my accompanying post, “Memoir,” I reviewed a number of Scripture verses depicting various attributes of God.  Following are a selection.  Feel free to comment with some favorites or your own.

God engages: Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: (Isaiah 1:18, ESV)

God is compassionate: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)  

God’s deference for the downtroddenAlthough He is greatest of all, He is attentive to the needy and keeps His distance from the proud and pompous.  (Psalm 138:6, VOICE)

God is exalted in stillness: He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psalm 46:10)

God’s longing for us is not diminished by our rejection of him: Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. (Luke 13:34)

Our intelligence is sourced from God: I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27)

God relentlessly pursues us: For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. (Ezekiel 34: 11-12, ESV)

God is all powerful: Yes, and from ancient days I am he.  No one can deliver out of my hand.  When I act, who can reverse it? (Isaiah 43:13, NIV)

God is both creator and controller: I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things. (Isaiah 45:7, ESV)

God made humans in his image and manner: So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27, NIV)

Thinking about when the Bible was written, consider how God recognizes no boundaries such as regarding….

Foreigners: The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:34, NIV)

Women: What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and give their father’s inheritance to them. (Numbers 27:7, NIV)

Children: But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.(Luke 18:16, ESV)

God is very much engaged even when his name is never even mentioned once, such as in the books of Esther and Song of Solomon.

I have barely scratched the surface.  In my companion post, “Memoir,” I explore the Bible as God’s memoir - about and from and by him. Addressed to us. 

His memoir, but directed to us - because we really matter to him.