Once upon a time, I wrote about what I feel might be the scariest thing in the history of ever. It has to do with unfulfilled potential and going soft on hard dreams. But I have to confess— even on the cusp of potential hard-dream fulfillment, there are other scary things I’m reckoning with. For instance: gaps. They’re everywhere.
Overseas travelers quickly learn that adjustments are necessary when visiting other cultures. Some are smallish, like the way timeliness is viewed (or not!), while others can mean the difference between life and death— such as which way the traffic flows when you’re stepping off the curb. Signs in train stations caution you to “mind the gaps”— to be aware of the space between solid ground and the moving train, which turns out to be good advice in every area of life.
Outside your comfort zone, you must be hyper-vigilant for a time because you just don’t know when you’re going to face a gap in your understanding of normal.
Gaps can be scary.
Perhaps, it’s due to something I read not long ago where the author wrote, “Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know.” Think about that for a moment: until it happens we’re not able to recognize there’s a gap in our understanding or ability to explain. We can’t totally prepare for it. We can only be mindful of the potential and keep a posture of humility.
We Westerners like information, answers and resolution— like it’s our God-given right. We also like safety. A lot. To the point of idolatrous worship. There’s nothing inherently wrong with needing answers or seeking safety except when it becomes the overriding impulse of our lives. Somehow society has equated having more answers with being more “safe”. It’s true for Believers as well. We forget that the need for more— or suspecting that God hadn’t given enough— triggered the original sin:
“Did God really say…? You mean if I partake of this fruit I can be ‘like God…. Knowing’?” Hmmmm.
And despite this wide-open age of bottomless information there are still some things we can not entirely know and that drives us crazy. As Believers, there are places where we are asked to proceed and not only be mindful of those gaps, but to embrace God through them. Sometimes, that can be a little……. unsettling.
So…my husband and I are in the midst of a radical life transition that’s filled with more questions than answers. On the surface level, the struggles we’re facing are obvious —ours is a situation crazy-ripe with joys and complexities.
Just below the surface there are layers of potential angst and anxiety over the answers we just do not have yet— or maybe never will. This is combined with the additional challenges of facing off with information that doesn’t totally add up according to the World’s standards. What didn’t need to matter so much before, matters way much now as we let go of our tentative grasp on the so-called “American Dream”.
Seldom before did we have to think about or explain our understanding of the holy mysteries of God in light of the taught-as-true secular theories of origin, evolution and human sexuality. Those conversations don’t come up very often in our little town and if they do, it’s easy to rise, shake it off and move on quickly to something a little less confrontational.
However, when you pull the plug on “status quo” and step toward making the Gospel your life’s ambition, where the trusted hedges of protection are lower or non-existent and the questions aren’t so kind— where the gaps seem like chasms— then you can really feel what you’re up against.
The seemingly simple act of trying to explain Creation to a group of wiggly 3-year olds heightened this awareness in me. It’s not as easy as it sounds! Perhaps because these very discussions are taking place at home as hubby is in the throes of college-level courses in Cultural Anthropology and Archaeology, working to finish his degree. In that secular university setting the answers provided and expected have almost nothing to do with the neat and orderly, 7-day explanation of creation and all that follows.
It’s a challenge we cannot back away from because without a courageous and consistent witness, today’s chubby cheeked 3-year-olds risk becoming tomorrow’s leery-eyed college kids, regurgitating the lies simply to make the grade, perhaps never asking why.
It’s a big deal.
Although created in His image, I continually have to remind myself that God is so very… Other than us and good in ALL His ways and there will simply never be a way for anyone to comprehend that completely. It’s true: God designed us with the capacity to crave the harmony of facts and justice. We were designed with the need to have our questions satisfied but it does’t take long to realize that nothing we see, have or know in our own ability will fill it all in.
Honestly? Being able to fill in all the blanks still wouldn’t satisfy anyone. It’s not a cop-out nor are we backing away from the hard stuff. Lack of answers does not equal lack of God. It’s just as far as we are able and allowed to go. The remainder is holy ground where we can take off our shoes, unbutton our souls and be satisfied that we know enough.
That answer feels inadequate. The lack of “justice” chaps our proverbial hides. We think we need more ammunition or like we’ve been left in the dark to defend areas where the Big-Bangin’ theorists seem to have it all together. Until, upon closer inspection, you discover even LARGER gaps in the record that they’ve filled in with copious amounts of speculation, presented as fact, and held loosely together by self-serving ideologies. At the end of the day, they still have much to explain.
And Believers are not exempt from this frustration because we must live with the realization that the gap in our ability to provide all the answers— to be like God, knowing— is as wide as the chasm He fixed when our first sinning Parents were barred from Eden. This is God-territory and really, a grace-gift to us, which not only keeps us from having to bear the weight of information we can not handle, but also protects us from our pride over the ability to explain everything. It’s in the spirit of that original sin… the desire to know all and the overriding doubt of God’s provision, that one would refuse to trust Him and instead demand answers first to questions like:
What kind of God would allow_______________?
How did God__________________?
Do you really believe that God_____________ ?
What my husband and I are finding— if only considering why we’re doing any of this in the first place— is that when we have the courage to live honestly and generously share our personal faith experience, to live and give a reason for the Hope that we have, God is enough in His own defense of those “gappy places” and allows us the joy of being His witnesses, while equipping us to stand in the gap –bridging it– so another may cross over.
Some things cannot be fully explained now. But honestly, as we’ve matured in our journey with God we’ve discovered that He is able, willing and big enough to fill in ALL the gaps. Maybe not with the neat and tidy answers that used to seem so necessary, but more importantly— with Himself— strengthening us to bear witness to this confused, hurting world that it’s not more answers or information that we’re all needing to be satisfied, it’s God and God alone.