Friday, February 11, 2022

The Limits of Knowing

One of the things that we've said this week as we've talked about the unbearable goodness of God is that many of us are afraid that we'll learn everything there is to know about God and be dissatisfied. Or perhaps, unsatisfied. We're afraid that we will read our Bible and say our prayer and sing our worship and that there will still be something missing, there will be something incomplete. Something about God will not be as good as we hoped it would be when we started out on this journey called faith. 

For generations, the "Christian" answer to this nagging, quiet fear is simply to say that it won't happen. That God will never disappoint you. That you'll never find that God is less than everything you dreamed Him to be; you will always, always find that He is more. When this kind of doubt creeps in, it seems to be our natural inclination to point to the goodness of God - the very goodness that we're afraid is so fragile - and simply to say, "Not a chance." 

But if we're being honest, that's pretty unhelpful. It doesn't really answer the question that we're having. Telling us to basically just "try it" doesn't calm that fear that it's all going to fall apart if we keep pressing into it. Telling us that God really is that good doesn't satisfy our doubt because hey, some of y'all like celery as a snack. We just can't trust your judgment. 

A silly example, I know, but you get what I'm saying - we all have different thresholds of experience, and we all know what it's like to have someone else rave about something that we just don't "get" when we try it for ourselves. Even in the context of church. There are some persons who just love a certain worship song and then we hear it, and we're like, yeah, not doing anything for me. Or they love a certain verse of the Bible, but it doesn't suit our context. At least, not in that moment. 

So to have someone tell us that it'll be okay, that God will always satisfy doesn't answer that ache we're having. It doesn't give us the courage we need to press forward. 

What I think is more helpful is to just be honest with you about another truth, one that should put to rest the uneasiness you feel when you think to yourself, "I can't learn more about God. What if I learn everything there is to know about Him and still find myself unsatisfied?" 

Ready for this truth? 

Here it is: 

It'll never happen. 

It will never happen because you will never learn everything there is to know about God. Not this side of eternity. Not in this life. Not until that day when you see Him face-to-face and He reveals the fullness of Himself to you. 

I promise you. You won't. You cannot possibly, in this broken flesh in which we live, learn everything there is to know about God. Even if you set out and make that your mission. Even if you make it your life's work. You'll never do it. 

I am someone who has invested quite a bit in my "religious education" and personal devotion. I have read the Bible through every year for almost a decade at this point. I have attended four years of seminary. I have prepared countless sermons and devotions. I have offered hundreds, if not thousands, of prayers. I have sat in some of the darkest places and listened to the Spirit give me comforting, encouraging words to say. And still, I find something new about God, something I never considered before, to write in a journal every day. That's right. Every day. 

Ask your pastor. He or she will likely say the same thing. Ask the matriarchs in your church, those older women (usually widowed) who have been "doing Jesus" for decades. Ask them if it's stale yet. Ask them if it gets old. Ask them if they know everything already and what in the world they do with their devotional time when there's nothing else to learn. Anyone, and I would dare say everyone - at least, everyone who is being honest about their faith journey - will tell you that they are constantly learning something new about God. Constantly. 

And listen, that's not because God changes. No. It is because God is that grand. It's because He is that much bigger than all our stuff. Our lives are circumstantial; they are embedded in only the little bit that we can experience of them at any given time. So as our circumstances change, we get a new angle on God. We see something new of Him. Thus, as our lives continue to grow and change, so does our understanding of one great, big God - a God so big that the experiences of this life just can't introduce us to all of Him. 

So don't worry about it. You will never come to the point in your faith walk where you've learned everything there is to know about God and find yourself for some reason unsatisfied. 

Because you will never learn everything there is to know about God. Not here. Not now.

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