Knowledge is the accumulation of facts. Discernment is the knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. Wisdom is the personal application of discernment in one's life. Understanding, however, is discovering the reason why.
I wrote a blog about understanding some time ago. Here's one thing out of many that I'm beginning to understand - God sure doesn't hold back very much when you give Him a green light (or any other time, for that matter). Don't get me wrong - I always knew that, but... experience puts a new spin on things.
For the past year or more, I've been worrying about becoming a man - not just in the normal sense of the word, but the man that God has always planned for me to be. I've prayed more times that I can remember, "God... please. Make me into the man that You want me to be." Some days I agonized over trying to make myself that person, other days apathy won and I refused to even think about it. I knew it wasn't going to be anything like a magic wand trick - more of a slow gift, I thought. Little now, little later; in a few years you'll be there.
I can't remember when, but I recall telling God some while ago to bring it about no matter what. No matter how much pain. It wasn't too many days before I was chiding myself for being an idiot - He was going to make it happen anyway. Why go about begging for suffering? So I told God to completely ignore what I just said and continued on my small search for little pieces of manhood to add to my collection.
Of course, the braver (more Godly) me got the better of the cowardly me before too long. "Ok, God. I'm supposed to give it all to You, right? Alright - this time I mean it. No matter what, no matter what, make me who You want me to be."
Before long, everything seemed to be falling apart.
Ok, so it wasn't everything. But it did seem awful close. It was (and still is) one of those time where you want to run someplace far, far away, curl up and die to the world altogether. There's no chance of being stinted when it comes to God, guys - never forget it. But here's the point to all this: I asked God to make me a man. God didn't wave His hand and say, "Voila! Instant man formula!" God didn't point to the world and say, "Go, and become a man." God didn't indicate a chair and say, "Sit and wait till I make you a man."
He pointed to a burning desert path strewn with sharp jagged rocks and said, "Walk, and be a man."
A true man isn't something you become, like a general or a business owner. The title "man" isn't really an adjective, or even a noun so much. It's an action word. Something you are by doing. Here I was, sitting around one day waiting, then looking around the next for manhood around the house like a lost sock, while God was trying to show me that I had all I needed to be a man already.
I was like an person merely reading books on sports and sitting on the couch waiting to become an athlete. You want to be an athlete? Run. You want to be a man? Grab God's hand and be a man. You'll fall, cut your knees on the stones of failure, and spill out your self-confidence like blood. That's ok. That's good. God doesn't need your self-confidence. It's Him-confidence He wants.
And then He says the words "Watch this."
It's the same feeling you get when you go over a hill on a roller coaster, and see the track below disappear into the darkness. Except it will be so much more worth it.