What I Don’t Understand…

Have you ever felt baffled by God? Or in mid-stride as you head to your next appointment on a Tuesday afternoon thought, “I just don’t understand my life…” Where is it going? What is its purpose? Why am I in this place, in the midst of this ongoing story I didn’t write and wouldn’t choose. I have often mulled over such thoughts and today is no different. I find myself standing at the edge of my understanding and peering into an unknown future. What am I hoping to see? What reassurances am I seeking? I keep thinking that if I just knew a little more about what kind of story I was in or understand my role in the story better, I could understand how all the seemingly random events of my day were fitted together or the events I read about around the world. If I just understood God better, I could have a little more control over the outcome of my story or what I’m to contribute to the larger story.

But the thing is I don’t understand God a lot of the times, just as I don’t understand the ups and downs of my story unfolding from day to day. And the question I am faced with is what to do with the mystery I cannot unravel? What do I do with what I don’t understand?

Photo by Chirayu Sharma on Unsplash

“The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”

~G.K. Chesterton

Solomon, the wisest king who ever lived, also contemplated these puzzling questions. Pondering the limits of human understand and perspective, he wrote, “[God] has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) He repeats this refrain in different ways throughout the book of Ecclesiastes – there is no way to understand all the complexities of our life’s story.

God is beyond our understanding and the sooner that we learn to delight in this reality rather than seek to conquer it, the sooner we will be able to walk in peace with these questions that may remain unanswered in our lifetime.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways, My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

~Isaiah 55:8-9

God invites us to trust Him with what we do not understand about our story because He sees the big picture. He knows the end from the beginning and His heart of love is for us. It is precisely because His ways and thoughts are above ours, that we can trust Him for a deeper good than we could have possibly imagined in our own understanding. In fact, we can not only take courage from this truth, but also choose to praise Him that His vision and power far outmatch our own. The Apostle Paul says, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we can ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory…”(Ephesians 3:20)

Steven James in A Heart Exposed wrote a poem on this theme of stepping forward into this beautiful Mystery of life with God where our understanding ends and His wonders begin…

Breath of Life, breathe on me, Wind of God, blow through me.

Spirit of Truth, rebirth me, Pull back the covers of my practical, logical world

And baptize my knowledge with the mystery of faith.

Help me to believe and stop trying to understand, After all, how could I even wrap my mind around Something — Someone —

Greater than the Universe itself?

Convert my imagination just as much as you have informed my intellect.

Your presence doesn’t make me comfortable, but it comforts me.

Your light isn’t easy to look at, but it reveals me.

The spiritual life is an absurd mystery. Help me to enter it, as it enters me.

The first step isn’t one of reason, but of faith.

I lift my foot.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

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