What lies more impossibly beyond my reach than the thoughts God thinks?
And yet, what if He was to bridge the chasm of His unsearchableness to make Himself known? What if He so wanted to bring Himself within my reach—that He chose to come low and near, clothing His presence in something as nonthreatening as His thought threading the intimately familiar of my own?
I don’t know which fills me with more trepidation:
- to actually believe that God thinks His thoughts through mine
- or to not believe, and forever miss the unspeakable gift He is bringing within my reach
Know this: you do not have to become something that you are not, in order to receive the thoughts that God is thinking through you. You already do.
You hear God every time the truth records itself on your heart.
He already speaks to you and leads you—in everyday occurrences so familiar that it is easy to dismiss them as common, when they are actually sacred.
- When was the last time you had a hunch about something and followed your gut, to realize farther down the road that your decision had perfect timing and was exactly the right thing to do?
- How many times has the thought of taking some specific action crossed your mind—but you didn’t carry through—only to beat yourself up later, “Darn it, why didn’t I? I knew I was supposed to!”
- Have you ever needed something but had no idea where to find it, and then haphazardly found yourself in some obscure location holding exactly what you were looking for?
- Have you ever experienced thoughts of someone repeatedly coming to mind, and later learned that they were going through a personal crisis, at the same time you were thinking of them?
- What do you call it when you get “stuck” trying to solve a problem, and as you focus on the question, the pieces suddenly begin to come together to give you the answer?
Night and day Watson and Crick were possessed by the answer that eluded them, and not only them, but the whole body of their competitive scientific colleagues bent on the same quest. They were trying to identify the structural model of DNA that would explain how it worked. Building on the work of numerous scientists before them, comparing notes, monitoring each other’s progress they kept their cards close, pressing hard to find the answer first. But every theory hit a wall. Every model fell apart. Watson and Crick found themselves “stuck”.
Many a high school biology teacher has told the spectacular story of how they got “unstuck”, how Watson first saw the double helix structure of DNA in a dream. As the powerful imagery of spiral staircases flooded his mind, he supposedly leapt in recognition of the DNA structure that had been eluding them for so long. Multiple documentations tell of scientific breakthroughs that have come through dreams, but I have read Watson’s own account, and he gives no credit to any dream.
He describes the familiar and much loved sparring between he and Crick as the two played off of each other’s minds, arguing and debating, theorizing and taking shots at each other’s weaknesses. They came with different strengths. And like iron sharpening iron, Watson and Crick jointly refined their mutual thinking until they came to that moment scientists call the intuitive leap. This leap bridged the chasm beyond which their reason was too stuck to go. The simple brilliance of the double helix slipped slowly into Watson’s mind, and as he began to play with it, his heart began to pound with the possibilities that translated them beyond the pale of their tired thinking. Very quickly all the pieces fell together, fitting perfectly, without coercion—in a model so elegantly simple that it had to be right. Not just Watson and Crick, but their entire community of scientific colleagues crossed over the chasm between where they had been (stuck in their just “off” worn thinking) to where they were meant-to-be, on the solid shore of a new frontier.
When the elusive structure of DNA was brought within their grasp, it created a breakthrough even their strongest competitors celebrated. Watson and Crick would win the 1962 Nobel Prize in Medicine, by discovering the double helix structure of DNA, which is credited as one of the most important scientific findings of the 20th century.
I loved the story my biology teacher told me. I love it when God’s presence comes wrapped in something spectacular and supernatural. And frankly, I was a bit disappointed when I read Watson’s account. But after my initial disappointment, I realized the soft wonder there. The double helix was an inspired answer bridging the chasm beyond which their reason was too stuck to go. But it did not come by clearly supernatural means. It threaded Watson’s thoughts by the most familiar of processes native to these two men. Sparring, arguing, debating with an able equal—the soft wonder is that God from beyond the farthest reach of this physical universe, beyond the beyond—comes, doing something extraordinary through such “ordinary stuff”. He indwells a thought and comes low and near in the most ordinary of ways, so as not to draw attention away from what He is trying to bring within our grasp.
One of my biggest mistakes has been to underestimate how sacred an event can be taking place in the most ordinary of moments.
Johannes Kepler, the German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer described science as “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” Crick most certainly did not. He believed that our joys, sorrows and ambitions are no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. [i]
The point is, we don’t have to believe in the phenomenon of God thinking His thoughts through ours to experience it. We just fail to realize His presence with us.
There was a time in my life when I knew no better than to call some of my own experiences “clairvoyance”, “intuition”, “my sixth sense”, “my inner knowing”. I trivialized what was taking place. Not until much later would I be humbled by the increasing evidence that The One who had created the vast reaches of interstellar space and calls the stars by name, actually deigned to think His thoughts through mine.
What will become greatly apparent to you, as you begin to grasp this phenomenon of God thinking His thoughts through your own, is that these events will often cluster in times when you are most in need, and along the line of your passion and your calling. And as you increasingly walk in the reality of this phenomenon, you will experience it with ever increasing awe, gratitude and dependence.
Clenching his jaw, tension in his stomach, our son Matt gunned his accelerator pulling hard into the middle lane to pass the beat-up Chevy laboring up the hill on his right. His windows down, the air roaring in his ears at 80 miles an hour, and his music blaring, our teenage son had no inkling of what was about to happen.
A sudden stillness engulfed Matt. And out of that surreal quiet a clear calm command shot through his thoughts, “Matt, Get out of the center lane.”
It was almost midnight, and Matt was not going to make curfew. Every minute counted. The Chevy on his right was crawling. Another second and Matt would pass him. Calculating mere seconds until the green light would change at the top of the hill, Matt gunned his accelerator to make it through the intersection.
The thought came again—even more authoritatively—“Get out of the center lane, NOW.”
With an expletive of frustration, our son obeyed. Easing his foot to the brake, he reluctantly pulled behind the guy who would make him even later now.
Cresting the hill, Matt’s stomach rolled. On the other side of the ridge a blue Honda Civic waited in the center lane with its left turn light blinking. Its driver had no idea he was sitting in a reversible lane that belonged to oncoming traffic at that hour of the night.
God thinks His thoughts through our own, and no potential has the power to guide, guard and change our life more than this: that we understand what He is saying to us.
Years later, training as a newly commissioned infantry officer with the Marine Corps, Matt’s first nighttime live-fire exercise took place, when the bullets were real and a mistake could be fatal. The young Marines were clearly coached how to fire at their targets down range, keeping a narrow angle so as not to endanger fellow officers on their flanks. The young Marines were tired, but their adrenaline was pumping. The black stillness of the early morning suddenly gave way to a barrage of gunfire as flares exploded overhead to bring the battlefield alive. Alternately firing and advancing in long grass over rolling terrain, Matt’s squad fought to keep their line of sight trained on their targets ahead. The roar of deafening explosions tore the air around him, but suddenly Matt was engulfed by that same surreal quiet he had experienced years before. And out of that stillness he heard the urgent but concise command, “Matt, Stop.”
On a dead run with a sixty pound pack on his back, our son stopped dead in his tracks, just in time to watch as a fully automatic barrage streaming red tracers sliced through the space he would have occupied if he had taken another step.
God does speak to us in our thoughts, and no potential has the power to guide, guard and change our life more than this: that we understand what He is saying to us.
Father, in so many ways You bring me bits and pieces of evidence that ask me what I will do with them….and Your scripture slips quietly alongside…
“….that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut 8:3-4)
Oh, God! I fall so short of realizing this possibility in my life. I feel both a sickening knot of shame and Your bright call to something higher than I’ve ever dreamed. Help me get past my unbelief, that tells me I am not up to this, or not good enough. You bring Yourself within my reach, knowing exactly what my limitations are. Your word shows me how You have thought Your thoughts through men’s without hindrance (Judges 7:9-15), so that they could clearly understood what You were saying to them. And while if often takes place in ways that leave us breathless, most often you thread our thoughts and lead us in ways so ordinary and familiar that we do not even realize what is taking place.
Help me lay hold of that, for which You are laying hold of me. Make me more sensitive to Your thoughts, honoring them as distinct from my own. Make me alive to them! Keep me from missing what is taking place. Help me to grow ever more keen in my awareness and gratitude. Forgive me for all of the times when I have taken credit as if it was my gift, my intuition, my knowing…. when all along it was You being good to me.
Guard me from calling something “You” that is not “You” at all. This is a challenging path that I will not be able to walk without stumbling, so hold me! Keep me from embarrassing myself or giving others reason to mock this sacred mystery that is becoming more and more my life—that I can hear and know Your thoughts.