When did we get this idea that God only works when we are perfectly in place? Like that game we used to play as kids – everyone form a word with their bodies, and we would scramble on the grass. You be the line for the L, you be the line for the E, curve around and together we’ll be the O, that’s it, we’ve formed the word LOVE, great work everyone.
Like bent out of shape kids, we call out when we’re ready, here, God, look, we’ve managed to become love – will you draw near yet? We’ve answered our own questions and tied our own ribbons.
Some Sunday mornings I teach downstairs in a small classroom crowded with teenagers. A lot of the times, I ask them questions – about the Bible, about their thoughts, about their feelings. And occasionally, they’ll answer me. (Just kidding – they’re some of the coolest people on the planet).
But on some mornings, when I’m hearing crickets rather than responses, I’ll volunteer one of the kids to answer. Which always go to show they have wonderful answers buzzing in those brains, but sometimes it takes an extra push to squeeze those answers out. One morning, I volunteered one of the teens and he gave me an answer that nearly made me leap for joy. I can’t remember what I asked, but his response was “I don’t know.”
I got the whole room to clap for that answer.
We’ve trained our kids, our brains, and our culture to always be ready with an answer. In schools, you’re graded on all the correct answers you bring to the table. In society (especially, in my opinion, when you’re a young adult) you’re sized by how many right answers you can give to the questions that hopefully point to you having “all of your ducks in a row” so to speak. When sitting with friends, we try our hardest to give them the best advice, the best answer that will hopefully lead them switching their lives around, and lead us to being the superhero in a red cape amidst their story.
And because we’re so ready and so wanting to have all the right answers, we translate this into our relationship with God. Praying over situations so we can have the right response, making sure we have all the answers before we approach the throne. When did I ever get the idea that I’m supposed to have all the right answers before I come to God?
It looks neater, cleaner and more organized, perhaps. And dare I say it, but maybe even because it looks wiser, more put together, more respectable. Compared with “I don’t know” – which looks messy, disorganized and haphazard.
I don’t know looks at a situation, a process, a hurt, and seems to provide nothing to answer.
But what if that’s where we start?
What if the process of not knowing provides more learning than giving an answer right away? What if we looked at our unknowns and brought them right to heaven and were honest about them? Where does that leave us?
God Himself knew answers would not simply satisfy. The human heart is too complicated for that – if there were quick fix answers that pierced straight to our soul and made us well again, we’d all be using them day and night. But usually, apart from Biblical truths, our answers are frayed at best. That’s why God didn’t just send an answer, He sent the Answer, in the form of a person. To be a person and to walk through the process of life beside the human race, instead of answering all of our questions from high in the sky.
Not having the answer allows Christ to do His job as the Answerer. It invited Him into the problem and the process in a way that requires humility and a certain measure of faith. Our human answers can look neat and clean, like a Ziploc bag we store snacks in and throw in the fridge, organized and tidy, shutting the fridge door behind us.
But no answer provides for a lot of pathways. We can rest in that place of unknowns, and be satisfied that our questions are surrendered to Jesus. We can receive a fresh answer from the King. We can admit to our own human limits. “I don’t know” is a big, wide open field that we can begin to explore and measure, all while knowing that, even though we don’t have the answer, we know that who is the Answer.
Are there “I don’t know” s in your life? Wrestle with them, get comfortable with them. In this, then, we can begin.