By Greg Stokley / @GregStokley
Think back to the last time you sat in a classroom.
The teacher is lecturing away, and you’re doing your level best to pay attention. Everything he is writing on the board seems like it’s in a different language. Even the words that the teacher speaks sound foreign and unrecognizable. You struggle for what seems like an eternity, concentrating harder and harder until you feel as though a blood vessel in your brain is likely to burst. You agonize over this internally, knowing that you need to know this information in order to make even a passing grade. You may even be on the brink of zoning out due to the fact that you are ready to give up. Just when you think you can’t listen to another syllable, the teacher asks the class if there are any questions.
You make the choice. You raise your hand. When acknowledged, you utter that embarrassingly necessary phrase.
“I don’t get it.”
Most teachers will tell you before this inevitable moment that there is no shame in admitting that you don’t understand and that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Yet there is still a sense of inadequacy when you openly admit to a lack of knowledge or understanding while every eye in the classroom turns their focus on you. Yet the teacher, if he or she is a good one, will kindly do his or her best to make the subject material clear.
Christians, on the whole, face this problem every day. But instead of facing conundrums about math or science, we scratch our heads every time we try to explain the ways of God. We use flawed and failing illustrations and cute pop concepts to try to explain to others the vast greatness of our God. We do this simply because we do not fully understand.
And that’s okay.
The Lord Himself addressed this issue. He plainly states:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares 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)
It is foolish for anyone to try and claim that they know everything there is to know about the most complex and fascinating being in existence. I once listened to a pastor give a talk about Scripture. He began his session by saying this:
“I have been reading the Word of God for fifty-one years, and have been preaching it for fifty. Yet I am still no closer to understanding the Word or person of God in their entirety than I was on the day that I began.”
That’s a bold statement.
We have SO many questions, and hardly any answers. When we ask and don’t understand, it’s quite alright that we don’t get it. No matter if it is an abstract concept of God you can’t get your mind around (cough *Trinity* cough) or something that is going on in your life, the greatest we will ever understand is that we don’t have to understand. God has our best interests in His unsearchable mind. He gave His Son on the cross to prove that very fact to us. His promises stand today and forevermore. If we stand on what He has said then, regardless if we get it or not, we will always come to the conclusion that He wants us to arrive at.
So trust Him.
Leave the understanding to the one who has the power to give it in the first place.
Greg Stokley is a ginger from southern Alabama. He loves reading, writing, but not arithmetic. He serves in youth, college, teaching, and preaching ministries. An amateur theologian, he's not afraid to point out bad doctrine, with love of course. He also writes at his own blog, To Be Prophets and Priests. You can contact Greg on Twitter at @gregstokley or at his email firstname.lastname@example.org.