After forty years, I still remember my physiology test. It remains the hardest multiple-choice test I took in college. I’m sure the professor experienced a depressive episode at worst, and at least puzzlement.
His grading method left an impression on me. Taking the number of right answers and subtracting the number of wrong answers, there were only three positive grades in the class. I was in the negative.
Grading on a curve was my friend. I became enlightened by the concept of relative knowledge.
Some eight years earlier, my brother Sam had a similar experience. To graduate, he needed to pass organic chemistry. When the exam was over, dad asked him “dow did you do, son?”
Sam replied, “I don’t think I even made zero!” Relative knowledge runs in the family.
How do we know what we know? Better, how do we know what is not known? These are rhetorical questions, words circling the curious mind without answers, for what separates opinion from knowledge, knowledge from truth? Words are just a feeble representation of what we know.
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd, and I know my sheep and am known by my own. As the Father knows me, even so, I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14,15). And how do we know the Father and how are we known by the Father but by his likeness within?
This is not a matter for the head. Faith is not a thought experiment. God created us in his image and in us is his image. Any doubt we entertain is but a limitation of the mind. In Christ, there can be no limitation of the heart if we listen to the Good Shepherd’s voice. God renews our heart before thoughts and words appear. And how do we know the Shepherd but from God’s image within endeavoring to find our heart and ear?
In Christ, we are sheep becoming the shepherd. “But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep” (John 10:2). The door is the essential truth of the good heart; the good heart is God’s image within. Grace is the moment we discover the courage to admit God’s presence was there inside us all along.
Remembering and reflecting, the answers were on the test. I only had to understand to see. In those days I did not know what I did not know. And more, I had little interest in pursuing it. Youth garnered my attention and I was happy living by the curve.
The whole of God is to open us to what we do not know. And how do we discover that?
“And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (John 10:4). Hearing the Good Shepherd’s voice, we know. Listening, the answers are there.
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15).
Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.