Friday, December 15, 2006

NTKB: need to know basis

I want to know things. Big things, little things, future things, profound things, things that are true and certain, things that will not change, things that will change, things that make decisions easier, things I can depend on. I have noticed that I am not the only one. Especially when discussing life and faith issues, many people want to know things. How can I know God is real? Will things work out for me if I do this? Can I trust God? What is my purpose? How can I forgive when justice is not done? Why do bad things happen to innocent people? Is this the right career path? Is this the right person for me? What happens when I die? Will good really win out over evil? Why doesn’t the Bible make more sense? How long will I live? We all want answers to our questions, but what happens if we don‘t get the answers we think we need? All too often, I think we are waiting for some assurance that the outcome will be to our liking before we commit to something, and that keeps us on the sidelines, watching and evaluating and calculating, instead of participating and experiencing and investing.

Very little in life is certain or predictable. We live one day at a time and at the end of that day we are blessed if we still have a job, a home, all our loved ones in good health, shelter and food, more happy moments than sad, and hope for the future. Knowledge is a good thing, a very good thing, but it is not the only thing on which to base our entire lives. I cannot know everything - I am not omnipresent, I cannot predict the future nor totally control what happens in my world, I am not omnipotent nor all-wise, and I often perceive more than truly know these things we call facts or truths because my experiences (both good and bad), my self-image, and overall view of the world colour how I interpret the information I receive and how I fill in the blanks when things are not spelled out clearly.

Demanding that we know all the ins and outs of something before we commit is simply unrealistic and perhaps more truthfully, fearful and self-protective in an ungenerous sort of way. One should always make informed decisions, and I wholeheartedly support the practice of thinking things through and doing some research before making choices, but knowledge is never a guarantee and at some point, one must simply take that leap and give it a try. If you must have every question answered before you believe God is real and trustworthy, you will never believe in him. If you must know everything about a person before you marry them, you will never get married. If you must know exactly what a food tastes like before you try it, you will never eat. If you want to know how every business venture works out before you risk any funds, you will never be an entrepreneur. Life is experience after experience, not fact after fact.

When I look at the life of Jesus, I see someone who, though he had the knowledge of God at his disposal, put that aside to become one of us, and that lack in no way hindered a life filled with faith, passion, wholeheartedness, and undeniable integrity and effectiveness. His most precious and useful knowledge was not of facts and events, but of what was in his Father’s heart. That fuelled every decision and under girded all his authority as a healer and teacher. Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions. Instead of demanding proof and guarantees and specific directions and neat solutions, we should be asking God to show us his great big heart which encompasses every situation and need that could ever arise, which transcends all knowledge and time, and best of all, makes a way for freedom, redemption, and wholeness.

Perhaps the next time I have a question about some tangled life situation or complex intellectual or social problem, or am faced with a dead end, instead of demanding an explanation or an assurance that I will not be disappointed, I will ask some better questions. Where is God in this place? How much does he love me? What can I do right now to walk in peace? Can I trust the most faithful person in the universe to make a way? Why has this opportunity been given to me? Who knows everything about my situation and can give me the best advice and direction?

The question is not do I have enough information, but do I trust God with what I don’t and can’t know?

I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.- God’s Decree. For as the sky soars high above the earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think.“ from Isaiah 55, the Message.

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