Summary: We have so much knowledge, but we do not know how to use it. A reverent relationship to God readies us to respond when we lack courage, reinforces righteousness when we are doubtful, and retains reticence when we are tempted to say more than we understan
Only a few years ago, we replaced the old office computer. It was a dual-floppy drive type, if that means anything to you. We decided that we would get a newer computer, the kind with a hard drive on it, so that we could not only do word processing (for the uninitiated, that just means typing, but on a screen instead of on a piece of paper) .. we could not only do word processing, but we could also create a database (for the uninitiated, again, that means a directory of names, addresses, and telephone numbers.) When we got that computer, I remember Charles Gray saying, “This computer has all the capacity you will ever need.” I believed him, mainly because I didn’t know what in the world he was talking about.
Charles, were you right? Say “No”, Charles! Oh, how we’ve moved on in the information revolution! After about five years of using that machine, it was going bad, so we went shopping again. We bought two computers, identical machines, one for our secretary and one for me. These were described as “state of the art”: they had 386 chips, they ran Windows 3.1, and they were loaded with a great big hard disk of 140 megabytes. You got all that? This too, it was said, will do all that we will ever need to do. We put a bigger word processing program on it, we put our database on it, we added a financial management program, an inventory program, a calendar program, a task management program, graphics, and we thought we were really burning up the bytes. It had a modem, so we learned to use on-line software to run the heating and air conditioning system; we hit the Internet and created a web site, and we thought, once again, we had arrived at the ultimate.
Except that it began to run very poorly. So we added more memory. Next we found that we had just about filled up that 140 megabytes of storage; so we added an extra hard drive. Now we’re cooking, for the duration, right?
But the machine I’ve been using sort of wheezed and gasped and gave up about a month ago; so we went shopping one more time, and bought the latest thing: a Pentium chip, 4 gigabytes of storage, running Windows 98, with more icons, options, plug-ins, and just stuff than you can imagine. This is going to be great! This is going to be fantastic. Except guess what? I cannot make it work. I cannot get it to run. It may be the machine; but it is more likely me. It may be the software, but it is more apt to be my buzzing brain. I am suddenly in information overload. I have more choices than I know what to do with, I am sitting in front of a device that offers me more possibilities than I can dream. I am loaded down with instruction manuals, help lines, tutorial sessions, and emergency phone numbers, and I can’t seem to make sense of any of it. I am in serious information overload. Plenty of information, but I cannot use it. Lots of facts, but no skill to use them. I am in trouble. Why? Information overload.
Isn’t that a parable of our very lives? We know plenty of things; but we do not know what to do with them. We have plenty of facts; but they do not make sense to us. We have all sorts of knowledge, but end up miserably unhappy. For all of our knowledge, we feel overloaded. Something is missing; we still need something else to make it all come together.
The poet of Proverbs has the answer. He tells us what the key is to make our knowledge work. He says that we must have a particular relationship before our information will work for us. We must have a particular relationship. And that it has to be a kind of relationship. See if you can pick it up from this: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The key phrase is, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”.
The fear of the Lord. You and I might call it “respect”, “reverence”. The infinite mind of the Creator of the universe; acknowledge Him as Lord. Revere Him. Turn to Him in all things. If we have a reverent relationship with God, we can relieve our information overload. If you want to know anything, truly know it, you must start with a reverent relationship to God.
Let’s see how that plays out in real life. I apologize in advance if the letter “r” grates noisily on your ears, because I am going to use that letter a great deal in order to drive home my points!