The Keyhole Principle

January 28, 2013

A few weeks ago John Piper wrote a fine article called Every Moment in 2013 God will be Doing 10,000 Things in Your Life. He makes the point that we rarely grasp all that God is doing in any particular situation. He says it looks something like this:

God is doing 10,000 things in your life right now.
You understand maybe 3 of those things.

The numbers are arbitrary, but the point is absolutely right. God is doing far more in our lives than we could possibly grasp. Said another way, we can’t even imagine all the different ways God is working all things for our own good and his glory. Or we can put this way:

We don’t know what we don’t know. 

We are like little children peering through a keyhole. We see a tiny bit, but the rest is hidden from our view. The danger comes in assuming that our “keyhole view” equals the totality of God’s purposes. 

Let’s take that ratio of 3 out of 10,000 just for the sake of illustration. What can we learn from this?

1. We won’t understand most things that happen to us or to our loved ones.
2. The understanding we do have will be partial and limited.
3. Some things will baffle us completely.
4. As long as we get stuck on “understanding” everything, we are bound to be extremely frustrated.
5. Every now and then things will make perfect sense to us. When that happens, we ought to be grateful and even then remember that when we think we know the big picture, we’re still looking through the keyhole of life.

We often hear that God “has put eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). But we rarely hear the rest of that verse, Yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Now that must mean something like this:

1. We eagerly desire to understand what God is doing in our lives.
2. But try as we might, we can’t fathom God’s purposes clearly.

This teaches us that God is always at work whether we see him or not. I may not “feel” God’s presence during some difficult trial. But he’s at work in my life with or without my conscious understanding. 

He’s at work when I see his hand clearly.
He’s at work when all is gray and mysterious.

This truth ought to build our faith (“God is at work in my life in 10,000 different ways right now”) and it ought to humble us (“I’m not smart enough to figure out all that God is doing in any particular situation”) and it ought to give us hope (“Just because this doesn’t make sense to me doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a purpose. It just means I can’t see that purpose right now.”).

So be encouraged, brothers and sisters.
If life doesn’t make sense, join the club.

Remember the Keyhole Principle.
You only see a tiny part of the big picture.

You don’t understand because you don’t need to understand.
When you need to know, you’ll know.

Right now we see through a glass darkly.
Better days are coming when all will be made plain.

God knows what he’s doing even when we don’t.
He’s never clueless even when we don’t have a clue.

Let that thought give hope to your heart today.


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Ray Pritchard
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