I love trying to understand the behavior of the people around me (the psychology major part of me), and especially behavior that relates to me (the selfish human part of me). I’m practically an expert at re-running scenarios in my mind and thinking up the most likely explanations for why my friend didn’t text me back or why that dude at work was wearing shorts when it’s below freezing outside.
So, naturally, I try to do the same thing with God: “Why didn’t He make the Bible easier to understand? Why and how does God exist outside of time?” Questions like these were coursing through my brain at 100 miles and hour for about the first 3 months of this Fellows year. And it was completely exhausting. I’d be sitting at work filing documents and pondering the possibility of infinite universes and infinite life forms (do they know God too? Did their story play out the same as ours? Why doesn’t God reveal these things to us??). I’d have to tell myself to come back to earth sometimes.
I threw questions at nearly every teacher or pastor I had the privilege to meet, but I wasn’t getting the answers I was looking for (something like a nice Microsoft flowchart of God’s plan for the world or a photocopy of His personal diary). I’ll be honest- it was, at first, a truly terrifying thing to realize that even the smartest pastors and theologians weren’t able to fully explain all of God’s behavior. But what I observed in these teachers was a humility and a level of comfort with the unknown that started to change the way I think about God. I wrote down the following quotes from a few of these conversations.
“Learn to embrace the mysteries of God.”
“If the God of the Bible doesn’t sometimes baffle you, rub you the wrong way, or flat out anger you, then your concept of God is probably too small.”
“If we could truly understand God, he wouldn’t be God”
You mean it’s actually okay to be uncomfortable with God’s behavior? It’s normal to be a believer and also have (um, big) questions that you know will never be answered? It’s possible to truly rest in mystery and ambiguity?
I’ve come to believe that the answer is yes. Why? Because if God thought just like me, and I like Him, then He wouldn’t be the creator and sustainer of the universe! He would simply be a figment of my imagination. Realizing, or re-realizing, perhaps, the magnitude of God gave me great comfort. I am not God, and God is not me, and thank goodness, right?
As I begin to accept the limitations of my brain and come to terms with the fact that there are things I’ll never know or understand, my view of God is exploding. Who am I to think that I can understand the “mind” (if we can even call it a mind) of God? This is humbling, to say the least. A God who is beyond my comprehension, whose behavior I can’t always understand and certainly wouldn’t always condone, is far bigger, more beautiful, and more believable than a God I can totally understand.
This doesn’t mean that all my doubts are gone- that I’ll never again wrestle with God or wiggle in my seat as I read parts of the Bible. But it does mean that I am learning to rest in the satisfaction of knowing and continuing to get to know a God whose “thoughts are higher than my thoughts” and whose “ways are higher than my ways” (Isaiah 55:9)