Knowing God

What would it be like to know everything about everything?  I’m a curious kind of person and off the wall questions just come to me and then I want to know the answer.  There was a time we had to go to the library card catalog to find out where the information might be located.  Then you read the books located in the card catalog.  If you were lucky you could find it fairly quickly.  Now?  It’s all about the Googlez!

If you look in my Google search history you’ll likely see anything from antennas to wombats.  I could give up the various apps on my smart phone but seriously need Google several times a day.  The weather apps are important, too. As a side note, did you know that Google has saved every search query since Day One in 1998?  Every single one.  The CDC looks to Google for potential disease outbreaks because people Google their symptoms before they go to the health care provider.

In any case, most of us like to know things. We’re uncomfortable not having answers to our questions and we don’t like things to be mysterious and ambiguous.  We’re uncomfortable with uncertainty.  As much as I use Google because I like having answers, I kind of miss the mystery of not knowing.

Coming down from the high level clouds and putting it into more pragmatic terms, what about shipment tracking and notifications?  We used to order something by mail, not knowing when the order actually arrived or when it would be shipped and then no idea how long it would take to actually arrive.  Putting things into a Christmas spin I’m thinking of Ralphie in the movie Christmas Story as he waited impatiently for his Little Orphan Annie decoder ring.  It was altogether something of a mystery and Ralphie’s impatience aside, we were usually pretty good with now knowing everything.  Now?  We’re checking our apps to see if our part has made it to the Lincoln so we know when UPS, FedEx and the post office will deliver it.  I like the knowing but kind of miss the mystery of not knowing.

Sometimes, we kind of run into a similar experience when it comes to God.  Most people I have met have lots of questions about God.  When I meet new people and they find out I’m a pastor the first thing they do is apologize for not getting to church as often as they think they should. Okay, fine, thanks for sharing.  The next thing that usually happens is they want to ask questions about God and/or the Bible.

Which is kind of the same thing, really.  It’s easy to think of the Bible and God as separate as in the Bible is the rule book and God is the rule maker.  That’s how it is usually laid out.  The reality is, the Bible is God revealed to us.  It’s not a stat sheet with info like height, weight, hair color, and favorite pizza.  Bacon cheddarburger with parmesan crust, just for the record.  It’s how we know anything and everything about God. Putting that another way, it’s like the Bible tells us who got is, not what God is. So that we can, in some part, know God and in a larger part, know what God wants from us.

Still, the Bible doesn’t reveal all there is about God.  God is a little bigger than that.  Much bigger than that.  Even if we’ve read all of the Bible and perhaps have memorized it end to end, I’m reasonably certain we wouldn’t fully know God.  We’d know some things about God.  We’d know some things that God wants from us.  But we wouldn’t know all there is.

Which is probably a good thing. I think we’d struggle if we knew the mind of God.  Think of it this way.  Have you ever been in a leadership position where your decisions were life and death decisions for other people?  I was listening to an audiobook the other day about the sinking of the container ship El Faro a few years back.  There was a story about Coast Guard rescue swimmers and in this one example they talked about a rescue helicopter that had gone out in a storm to pick up people in a capsized sailboat.  They managed to get all the people out of the water into the helicopter when they ran into a problem with the helicopter that meant they had to leave right then and now or risk the crew and four rescued sailors.  But they had to leave their rescue diver in the storm tossed seas.  They kicked out a life raft for him and made the decision to fly back to base and come back to get the diver.  They could only hope he’d be alive when they got back.  As it turned out, he was alive.  Barely.  But can you imagine having to make that decision?  Leave the rescuing hero and hope that he survives while you save everyone else.

That’s just one instance in a world full of situations.  Could you be in the middle of all the world’s situations like God has to do?  I don’t know how God does it but God is surely present at all times, in all places, and with all situations.  I think our heads would come apart at the seams if we had to process all that awareness.

Not to mention, we have a tendency to take for granted anything handed to us on a silver platter.  If something is just there we’re not always fully engaged.  I think this is especially problematic for matters of faith.  We’re saved by grace through our faith  Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— Since it is the gift of God and not something we ‘earn’ then it can be easy to take it for granted.  If we had the ability without struggle to know God fully, would we have a tendency to ignore a fully known God?

And really, how fully do we live out that which we do know?  We know lots of things about God and what God wants but how inclined are we to fully live out God’s desires for us? We may strive to but we also know that we fall short and thus our need for God in Christ.  How would our lives be improved by knowing more when we can’t handle the sliver of knowledge we have already?

There is good news about not being able to know everything about God.  I mean aside from having our head come apart at the seams with all the things that would have to fit if we knew everything about God.  If we live with God being something of a mystery instead of hard and fast knowledge sets then we leave space for the vastness of God, without limits.  As much as I want to have all my questions answered, I think letting God be God is comforting.

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