The Blessing of Not Knowing

I was at dinner a few weeks ago, when a question came up for which no one around the table had an answer. Immediately, several folks pulled out their smartphones to Google the answer. With instant access to any piece of desired information everyone quickly becomes an “authority” on every issue. We have access to the Library of Congress at our fingertips. Every-body knows everything all the time. A good discipline is to sideline your smartphone at regular intervals. The fact is, we don’t need to know everything all the time. We don’t need to know where our children are at every moment, we don’t need to know the current stock quotes and we don’t need to know who the Chinese emperor was in 1411 A.D., or other obscure pieces of trivia or random information. In fact, there are some things we cannot know even if we wanted to. There are some aspects of truth which are totally unknowable even with the latest technology. God and God’s ways are one of those things. In the Hebrew Bible God is quoted as saying, “My ways are not your ways,” (Is. 55). In one of his letters the apostle Paul said, “As for now we see things only dimly as in a faded mirror, but in the end we will know fully, even as we are now fully known.” (I Cor. 13) The Christian faith, as Paul reminded us, is more about “being known by God” than knowing things about God. We can become familiar with the “attributes” and qualities of God through reflection on the Bible or we can devise theological and metaphysical systems of thoughts which might quantify and categorize information about God but, in the end, God remains a mystery who/which is ineffable and indescribable even to the wisest and most devoted of us. Our deepest understanding of the divine comes not from intellectual inquiry or doctrinal orthodoxy but from the experience of opening our hearts and minds to the spirit and living and walking through this life in “relationship” with God. As the apostle said, it is only “in the end” when we meet God face to face that our knowledge and under- standing become complete. In the meantime, we humbly confess our inadequacy and even ignorance of the things and ways of God which our puny minds can only catch glimpses of. Thankfully, even those glimpses can be glorious and life transforming and so we give thanks for the blessing of not knowing.