I used to have all the answers, and it felt great. I was really good at describing what went on behind the scenes. Figuring out how things work. Mature for my age. Wise. Curious. I was the one you came to when you needed an answer, when you wanted to know the why and the how of it all. I might not know every answer, but I knew where to find it. I was a Fixer, and an Explainer. The words “I don’t know” rarely graced my lips, and when they did I choked on them. But I had this friend growing up, and she loved saying “I don’t know”. Her flippant use of the phrase offended me often. I pitied her, what I saw as a lazy attitude exposing an ugly truth about who she was. Slowly I began to notice that she often got closer to the real answers than I ever did. I noticed that she seemed impervious to fear, and peace seemed to follow her around. I noticed that my resistance to admitting I didn’t know was revealing an ugly truth about something in me. I noticed that the quicker we are to say “I don’t know”, the more freedom we have to swim in.
If our theology is informed by our circumstances, it requires constant readjustment and justification. It’s dangerous ground, to let the tangible inform the intangible. A piece of dirt on my shoe doesn’t tell me anything about the person who made my shoe. I used to think that evidence of God in my life told me who He is. If He shows up when I ask Him to, then He’s a God who shows up. If He doesn’t, He’s a God who doesn’t show up. But the truth is much more uncomfortable than that. God is loving, and kind, and merciful, and healing, even if I don’t see it. And I can trust that, and celebrate that, even while I’m looking at evidence to the contrary. Questions are ok. Doubts are ok. Unknowns and faith are not mutually exclusive. But when your questions and doubts start to fill your vision, it’s time to say “I don’t know”. Beloved, we were made for intimacy with the Creator of the heavens. It’s our ultimate purpose. Anything less is a distraction. When our theology, our understanding of God depends on nothing other than God alone, then we are free from justification. We no longer need to make things make sense. Relationship becomes the priority.
It’s one of the upside down parts of the Kingdom of Heaven, this willingness to be uncomfortable. It’s a choice, to admit where you lack. It’s an acknowledgement of your smallness. How small are you willing to be? How many answers do you need to have to be comfortable? How many unknowns can you handle in a day? Can you trust God when nothing around you makes sense? Can you trust Him even when your circumstances scream that you shouldn’t? It’s the freedom we find in commitment. Making a covenant, choosing today what your choice will be for the rest of your days. Every day after that you are completely free because your choice is already made.
So on days like today, when my phone is buzzing with alerts and messages that bring more questions than answers, I don’t need to explain it all away. I’m going to resist the temptation to ask why and how and when – I’m going to ask who. I’m going to dig into the Word and remind myself who God is, and who I am. I don’t need to tell God about my circumstances, I need to tell my circumstances about my God. It’s the only question that needs to be answered.
Head over to Amazon and put this in your cart. I haven’t actually read it yet but I trust the author enough that I can recommend it to you. Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey is about making peace with an evolving faith. She’s a fellow west coast Canadian female writer, and I was deeply moved by her last work, Jesus Feminist. Visit her blog to learn more!