It is the glory of God to conceal things
But the glory of kings is to search things out. – Proverb 25:2
Almost everything is hidden. Actually, including the meaning of that heap of scrawls and gaps that is “almost everything is hidden” – an undecipherable thing until some worthy, “king-ish” person searches it out, that is, learns the basics of phonics, reading, grammar, vocabulary. Only after this exploration can the discovery be made: the scrawls on the page are symbol bearing letters, those letters form words, and the words contain meaning.
Exploration is always necessary, hardly anything lies on the surface. And yes, it’s the Creator God who has hidden pretty much everything, certainly most everything valuable. Our first parents might have ascended a hilltop and oohed and aahed over the panorama of Eden while it was yet “very good,” but for all their admiration they couldn’t perceive that it’s very-goodness extended into the resin of the trees and beneath the surface of the ground (Genesis 2:12). God had concealed quite a bit from them, and the discovery of bdellium and onyx stone and other treasures awaited their or their children’s exploration.
So, get to it, Adam and Eve, said God. And get to it sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, says God. Humans are meant to be explorers. We’re natural born peering-under-rock-ers. Yes, we are most fully human when we are uncovering God’s secrets, growing in knowledge. And we become really ALIVE only when we are brought into the discovery of the Source of all that is there, all that is true – the Personal God who is Eternal Spirit proceeding from the eternally begotten Son and His eternal Father.
Thus, the exploration and discovery of all that isn’t at-hand, intuitive, easy, superficial: well, it’s GLORIOUS. It’s the stuff of Image-bearing.
Ah [someone says], let’s not get too carried away with all this rhapsodizing about searching things out. What’s so glorious about exploration? In fact, to describe the acquiring of tools and perfecting their use and developing muscle memory and chipping away at little and big logistical problems and harnessing help and heading into undiscovered countries etc – – well, the word ‘glory’ seems precisely the wrong one. Seemingly more appropriate are terms like ‘tedium,’ ‘disappointment,’ ‘trial,’ ‘frustration,’ ‘scariness.’
But [I reply] that’s what the expedition leaders are for – to allay! To hearten. To cajole. To remind their fellow explorers that the Creator is behind their necessary rigors: so in spite of all that they face, the adventure is grand, the preparations worthwhile, the undertaking really is glorious.
You astute readers may have picked up that all along these musings education has been in view. Education is a type of expedition, a leaving behind familiar darkness and heading toward the light and all that it will uncover. Exiting the land of confusion and setting out to explore clarity and truth. And yes, as with any worthwhile search, on this trek there will be inconveniences, moments of being tempted to give up, SUFFERING.
Glory too. Here’s an example: In my mind I go back to the middle of June, as our family relocated from Boston to Denver. Three facts: 1) Those first weeks after unloading the truck were, of course, chaotic. 2) And there isn’t room in our rental for our upright piano, so it’s been relegated to the garage, a stately thing in the middle of chaos. 3) Our son Paul took on the bulk of the unpacking and situating.
A couple of times during the day, when it all became overwhelming to Paul, he’d retreat to the garage, sit down before the piano and play. George Winston floated out from the boxes, Bach marched onto the driveway, Chopin flowed onto the streets.
Ahhh. Glory! [And bonus: where it wasn’t expected.]
The real object of education is to give children resources that will endure as long as life endures; habits that time will ameliorate, not destroy; occupations that will render sickness tolerable, solitude pleasant, age venerable, life more dignified and useful, and death less terrible.”Sydney Smith, 1771-1845
You won’t be surprised to hear that those melodies didn’t happen onto Paul, nor Paul onto the melodies. Rather, at first, the whole thing called “music” had been – to use our Proverb phrase –concealed from him. Gloriously. Thus when he was 4 years old, he encountered the ivory keyboard not as a long-lost friend, but as intimidating mystery. Dexterity in his fingers and rhythm in his bones were far away, covered up; close by and on display were clumsiness, stiltedness.
But Paul had gone exploring, looking for the hidden music. Guides on his expedition included his mom who drove him to piano lessons, a heavy-set Ukrainian woman who taught Paul, giving him regular doses of heavily accented scolding and atta-boys, Spotify and YouTube that kept him inspired, an uncle who connected his musical enterprise (and chalked up its accompanying frustrations) to the mystery of Creator God.
And after Paul’s long journey, voila: Chopin spilling out of the garage!
Educating is exploring. And the exploration is glorious!