There’s a lot of fear going around these days. Or maybe it’s been going around all the days, I don’t know. For the past few months, everyone’s been asking me questions. And for as long, I haven’t been able to give any satisfactory answers. They want to know what I’ll be doing with my life a week or a month from now, and I don’t know. I think they’re afraid of what will happen to me if I don’t have answers, and to be honest I’m a little afraid of that too.
I feel just a little unsafe not knowing, the footing is rocky here and I can make only the smallest of movements forward. These questions they fling at me daily have settled into the bottom of my heart, and are currently gathering dust there till answers come to collect them.
But there have been other questions too; the ones I’m asking, the ones rising up from my heart all the time. What do you believe about marriage, gender roles, war, purity, sacraments, quiet times, service, and exclusivity? And many of these questions are being met also with an I don’t know.
My spirit has always loved answers. I’ve found peace in placing my convictions into little boxes, tying them up neatly with a ribbon and presenting them to anyone who asks. I’ve enjoyed discussing and studying theology, because this (I thought) was edifying; this talking a circle till I came back around to my foregone conclusion.
I think this is a common ailment in the church—we somehow feel we must know, absolutely and unswervingly, where we stand on every issue, every controversy. Uncertainty seems dangerous. What if we are led astray, what if doubts destroy our faith? But I know that these questions will not lead me away from Jesus. Like Peter I will always be saying “To whom shall I go? You have the words of eternal life.”
And now I’m seeing the arrogance of sixty-second answers and “Clearly the Bible says this…” and pretending none of it disturbs me. I’m seeing the absurdity of packaging this wild God of justice, spirit, flesh and love into a three-minute presentation for a stranger. I’m realizing that God is not afraid of my questions.
My wrestling with gender roles hasn’t sent him cowering into a corner of heaven for fear that I will bring the reliability of the Bible crashing down around all our ears. My guess is that he understands the sorrow and confusion I feel when I read accounts of genocide perpetrated by the Israelites at his command, and I imagine he feels sorrow too. He won’t be worried by the fact that I don’t understand because he has never expected us to understand him. He knows he is beauty and mystery, fearsome and awful, loftier than our imaginations.
I am drifting away from this mentality that “WE MUST PROTECT GOD’S NAME BY HAVING ALL THE RIGHT ANSWERS!” God doesn’t need me to protect his truth. God’s kingdom does not rise and fall based on my eschatology, political stances, or explanation of doctrine. So for now I’m just letting the questions wash over me. I think I’ll let them dance before my eyes like dust particles in the sun for a little while, and not worry about how long they take to settle.