Recently, I joined a book group of approximately 15 women, most of whom I was meeting for the first time. Some of the women confidently participated in the hour-long discussions, while others were content to simply sit and listen. After the first meeting, as I went on with my daily life, I kept running into two of the more outspoken women in that group. Coming and going, in all kinds of different places, I would bump into these fine young women that I had just met. It seemed so strange that once I met these people I kept seeing them; yet, I had never run into them before. Has this ever happened to you?
Scientists today call this the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, in which a person comes upon a new and unfamiliar piece of information and then continues to encounter it again and again. I liken it to a light bulb going off in my world: I don’t think that this new piece of information, such as meeting a person, is actually new. Rather, I have probably come across this person many times before I met them; I just didn’t see them. Now that I’ve met them, I am conscious of them existing, and so, as I run into them throughout my days, I now take notice of them. I see them.
We can cloak this phenomenon in as many modern-day terms as we like; however, it is a phenomenon as old as time itself. Throughout history, people have written of this concept and have used it as a powerful narrative motif. Homer used this motif of hidden and revealed things in his epic poems. In addition, it is used throughout the Biblical narratives. One of my favorite New Testament stories is of Jesus, hidden in plain sight, as he walked and talked with two disciples on the way to Emmaus, revealing Himself only later at dinner to all the disciples there (Luke 24:13-45). What is wonderful about this story is that Jesus, even as He walked and talked with the disciples, was hidden from them. Later, He reveals Himself and the Gospel message to the entire group.
This is an important idea to be understood. In the narratives that use this motif, it is God who is in control of any revelation. It is God that allows us to see and to hear—that is, to open our minds to understand and know God and the Gospel. When Jesus tells the disciples in Matthew 13 that some do not see and some do not hear, but that the disciples are blessed because they do see and hear, it is only because of the triune God that this is so.
And so it is for the Church today. We must not weary of wanting to know God and God’s plans for us as we study the Scriptures, pray, and go about our days on earth. Especially when wanting to know and understand God, it can be exasperating. Often, I have heard or read a Bible passage, and wondered just what it was saying. Then, one day, I hear it or read it afresh, and bam! It’s as if the world has opened up and I come to understand it so plainly.
It is easy to get impatient, but when the time is right, God in His wisdom reveals what we should know, and we have that “aha!” moment. We belong to God, and God promises to use our faith to reveal Himself and His will to us as He determines. And so, we should stand firm in our faith. Let us find comfort in knowing that we are not in charge, but that God blesses us with eyes to see and ears to hear.