Don’t know…

There’s so much about life that is a mystery.

In the the early ages all that was unknown was attributed to gods, and a fatalistic surrendering of mystery to the dark folds of speculative superstition. Then came the age of enlightenment and reason, where human inquisitiveness and logic rose to the fore, eventually crowning science as the supreme explainer of the previously unexplained.

And now? Who knows? Everything is in the mix as it probably should be. Our ability to think, reflect, and work some things out while remaining mystified and puzzled by a whole lot more.

There is so much in life that is impossible to explain with pure logic, or accept with absolute faith. Which is where worldviews kick in to help or hinder. A worldview with humans at the center elevates the intellect, science, and reason. We will eventually figure everything out. Or a worldview where humans are part of a bigger picture with mystery and God at the center. The intellect, science, and reason are aspects of a greater whole. We know that we do not have the capacity to figure everything out. Into that equation comes faith rooted not in ourselves, but in the One at the center who sees and knows all things.

Consider the Olympics. The level of commitment and practice, the discipline and sacrifice demanded for athletes to compete at the highest level. Yet most participants will return home without medals. Some will have come tantalizingly close to the podium only to have that moment of glory snatched away by a pulled muscle, one misstep, or whatever. Perhaps, like the courageous Simone Biles, it was too overwhelming and an unanticipated conflict between muscle memory and psyche. So much on the line, so much lost. Or perhaps not.

Simone Biles should be awarded an Olympic Gold for courage, together with the team supporting her. They handled the unknown and unexpected with dignity and grace. Who would have thought that someone of Simone’s experience and skill would be physically healthy and choose to step away from the opportunity to enhance her ‘goat’ legacy even more? She could have stubbornly and bravely persevered so as not to loose face. But she knew that to compete would be dangerous and ultimately serve no purpose. She backed off. Unashamedly, she declared that she was not in the right head space. Despite all her expertise and years of practice she was afraid participation would result in a serious injury. She said that there is more to life than gymnastics and gold medals. Her situation? There’s a mystery.

How refreshing for Simone, and Naomi Osaka of the tennis world, to have the maturity and integrity to step aside for a while. In their respective worlds there are many interests riding on their success promising fame, money, influence, and accolades. All the science, knowledge, practice, and expertise fall short of the mystery of what it means to be human at any given moment. To acknowledge that mystery (hard to fathom at times) is too often hidden, denied, or branded as weakness. These women chose to tear down the veil of false invincibility and live transparently and vulnerably – which is the very definition of what it means to be human. There is bravery in not knowing, courage in embracing the unknown, and strength in walking weak and wounded.

What was even more refreshing and inspiring was that Simone did not hide in shame or fly home under a cloak of secrecy. She stood with her team and cheered them on, utterly at peace with her choices; comfortable in her fragility with no need for further explanation or apology. Of course, there are always critics who could never even complete one somersault who love to provide negative commentary. But we can ignore such noise as inevitable and a mere empty nuisance.

Sometimes the world ‘out there’ demonstrates with greater clarity what Christians and the church often struggle to model. Living in a world riddled with mystery, unfair interruptions, and expectations that can leave the best of us wondering how to cope. When life’s perplexities and topsy-turvy unpredictability throw us curve balls – that’s exactly when we need a team of friends and supporters around to help us weather the storm. Jesus modelled such support to perfection with his disciples throughout their journey – from mustard seed faith to courageous men and women laying down their lives for others.

Disciples of Jesus, and churches, should be the safest, most understanding and affirming people and places in the world. It’s not about agreeing with everything all the time. It is about honoring one another through every step – from struggle, to stuck, to revelations and breakthrough – and back again. Behaviors follow beliefs that are molded in relationship (not in the head). That is how Jesus opened the door for his disciples to be transformed. Relationships declare that you are more important than any of your accomplishments. Relationships believe in you in your darkest failures and struggles. Relationships between human beings on earth are the key to encountering the love of the Father and believing there is indeed Someone greater who knows it all. Relationships are key to knowing truth experientially: acceptance, forgiveness, identity, hope, grace, love, and….. and….. and…..

God is highly relational. He invites us to walk in faith with him, rooted in the initiative of his first loving us, not depending upon our understanding. If anything has shown us the limitations of our knowledge and understanding it has been this season with Covid over the past two years. It has also underscored our dependence upon relationships for fulness of life.

Listen to the song below written during that season and follow the lyrics. There is an interesting short interview after the song discussing how it was written that is worth the time to tune in. These guys say it way better than my fumbling words. Be encouraged and be blessed.

Know It All (Hillsong United)

When the road runs dead
You can see a way I don’t
And it makes no sense
But You say that’s what faith is for

When I see a flood You see a promise
When I see a grave You see a door
And when I’m at my end
You see where the future starts

I don’t know how You make a way
But I know You will
I don’t know how You make a way
But I know You will

You’ve been good on every promise
From Eden to Zion
Through every dead end
And out of that grave
I don’t know how You make a way
But I know You will

When the world’s on fire
It’s not like You don’t have a plan
And when the earth gives way
On this rock Your church will stand

And nothing has ever once surprised You
Nothing has ever made You flinch
And when it all shakes out
The gates of Hell don’t stand a chance

I don’t know how You make a way
But I know You will
I don’t know how You make a way
But I know You will

You’ve been good on every promise
From Eden to Zion
Through every dead end
And out of that grave
I don’t know how You make a way
But I know You will

You pulled my heart from Egypt
You carved a road through seas
From all our chains
To endless praise
The story ends in You

And when we cross that Jordan
Look back at where we’ve been
From all our chains
To endless praise
The story ends in You

I don’t know how You make a way
But I know You will
I don’t know how You make a way
But I know You will

You’ve been good on every promise
Eden to Zion
Through every dead end
And out of that grave
I don’t know how You make a way
But I know You will
I know You will

Songwriters: Benjamin Hastings / Dylan Thomas / Joel Houston

Know You Will lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group

John Cox

Christian Author and Counsellor

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