During my last two years of college, five of us girls rented a house off campus. It was an old colonial with a big front porch on 704 Goldsboro Street. The one thing I miss the most about living in that house (besides the pantry door that we covered with laminated cereal boxes) is the front porch roof.
My roommate, Michelle, and I would climb out of the upstairs bedroom window and sit on the roof together. What a great place. Once you were on the roof, perspective changed. We would bring up some coffee, play an old Beetles album, or Michelle would bring out her guitar. Every now and then we would switch to the Supremes.
The roof was the place where we would share our dreams, have deep conversation and reflection, and people watch. The neighbor right beside of us was some kind of mall security guard. I’m pretty sure Kevin James shadowed him for Paul Blart. He had a wife and two kids. Across the street was a young couple often busy working in the yard. Michelle and I loved to create stories about their day. We would see neighbors coming and going, and let our imaginations concoct all kinds of tales about what they were up to.
From the roof, it was almost like we were watching a story, and that we were separate from time. In fact, our favorite spot of the house seemed to be a place we could even step away from our own lives and rehearse dreams for our own future, resolving what type of adults we were going to be. It was on the roof that Michelle and I developed our theory of k-nowledge.
As a child, the first step to learning is simply following instruction. We hear the rules to life, and we attempt to follow them. But there comes a time when you begin to question. What the heck is the point of the silent “K”? This is not a rebellious questioning; it is inquisitive. There is knowledge, what many refer to as book smarts, and there is k-nowledge, a sort of insight that comes from really looking at life around you, asking good questions, and finding good answers. We feel pretty strange explaining the silent K to a child who is learning to read. That is because children have k-nowledge. They haven’t moved to that numb stage yet where you just accept things for knowledge’s sake.
Michelle and I were going to college to get different degrees, but in that process we realized that neither of us wanted to pursue a career in the degree we were seeking. We wanted to open a coffee shop. Also during our tutelage, we found that many professors merely wanted you to regurgitate their own ideologies and beliefs for an “A.” If you had your own opinion on a matter, you may very well be risking your grade. You may get knowledge with your college, but k-nowledge is a different kind of degree. It comes from good observation and reflection.
Sometimes we let our world shrink to our own circles of busy. Our faith and our church may be important to us, but we lose proper perspective. We sit under a sermon seeking a special word of knowledge to help us deal with the rest of our week. We base our personal Bible study on finding the right answers to something a coworker challenged us on, or even a comforting check on our list of spiritual disciplines. The world seems to be all about us. We accept all the silent K’s and teach our children to do the same.
I appreciate the reflecting that Michelle and I would do as we sat on the roof together and saw life from a different perspective. We got our Bachelor’s degrees from the classroom, but our degrees of k-nowledge from the rooftop. In doing some investigating, you can discover where the whole notion of silent K comes from. You will learn about how it’s been carried over from Old English and about the voiced velar plosive. While I still wouldn’t be pronouncing it properly, sometimes I just like to give the silent K some credit by expressing it phonetically. It reminds me to be more observant in life.
As I have a study group meeting tonight to discuss Chapter Three of my book, I was thinking how just as most of us don’t know the etymology of the silent K without doing some research, we may not know the purposes of God in many parts of our lives. We go through the motions, and sometimes wonder how he could possibly be working. But we know that he is sovereign, and that he is good. In our own rebellion, there comes a time in all of our lives where we question God’s precepts and our obedience to them. But God’s law points to his character. As Christians saved by grace, we k-now that God’s promises are true. He is faithful.
This carries over even in something as ordinary and mundane as going to church. We do not know exactly how God confers Christ and all his blessings to us in the preached Word and the sacraments, but we show up because we believe him. The more investigating that we do, the more we find all of God’s Word to be true. Not only is it true, it is powerful. And that very Word is used to transform us into the likeness of His Son Jesus Christ. In our study tonight we will be looking at Matt. 7:21-23:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
Here is the journaling question that goes along with it: Do you intimately know God and his Word? Do you know it well enough to discern his will in tough situations? Does he know you by your obedience to his Word, or do you serve him on your own terms? Does he see you in his church? Those are some doozies. K-nowledge reminds me the importance of being known by God. All too often I do find myself trying to obey on my own terms. But since Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled the law and his Spirit applies that work to his people, we can love God’s law again. Through his Spirit, God’s Word properly convicts me and points me to Christ, who was obedient on my behalf, and grants me obedience now. Even as I stumble along, I k-now that God is faithfully working in me in his own mysterious manner to transform me into the likeness of his Son. That is his purpose.
*Originally published on November 25, 2013.