Tolerating Truth, or Teachable?
Being a blogger typically means you're supposed to be an expert at something. This is the whole reason you blog about anything. I've been writing weekly blogs for more than two years, each one an attempt at sharing my walk with God to encourage others in their walk with Him. This is Christian living.
After writing more than one hundred blogs and publishing four novels, I would have thought I'd "arrived" at some level of expertise by now. Expertise in... something. Faith, perhaps? Repentance? Meekness? Humility? If you become an expert, does that mean there's nothing left to learn about a topic?
If this is true, I can confidently say that's not me. The more I learn the more I realize the only thing I'm becoming an "expert" at is learning.
Perhaps it's because the more I learn and grow the more I realize I don't know. I often feel like I'm losing ground more than I'm gaining ground. The more I learn the larger the world becomes. The only thing that has become more certain in all my revelation of what I don't know, is that God knows what I don't. If I want to know, I can ask and - in the right time and place - He'll make it known to me.
Jesus did miracle after miracle in front of His disciples. He'd explain the parables to his disciples privately (Mark 4:34) but later he would ask them, "Why are you so afraid? Haven't you learned to trust yet?" (Mark 4:40). Despite everything they saw Jesus do, and everything they heard him teach, they were still learning about Him.
As frustrated as Jesus got with these twelve men who followed Him everywhere, Jesus continued to teach them. Regardless of how slow they were to understand, regardless of how difficult it was for them to grasp what Jesus was saying, as long as they were willing to listen and learn Jesus continued to teach.
I find great comfort in this.
I consider myself an intelligent human being. I'm a college graduate, and street-smart enough to handle traveling around the world - mostly on my own - without a single international incident. I read an average of forty books a year. I pick up on new skills quickly. I'm sensible and emotionally intelligent.
But nothing can make me feel more like an idiot than to read the same passage of scripture more than a few dozen times and still not know what the Author is trying to tell me. I might be able to explain the cultural context, or even offer the original Greek or Hebrew reference. But what is the Author behind the scripture trying to communicate to me specifically? To know the heart of the one who brought the words to life leaves me feeling like I'm balancing on slabs of broken ice.
To know the author of scripture, the same intimate knowing that happens between husband and wife, baffles me.
Perhaps it's because I married a man who lied about who he was, so the man I thought I knew turned out to be a lie. Perhaps it's because the entirety of my intimate experience has been seared and scarred with words like "force," "rape," "assault," "pervert," and "harm."
To know in the context that Jesus talks about in scripture, that Paul so beautifully refers to, that King Solomon demonstrated in his book of Songs, brings out more fear than faith. More hurt than hope.
So when I read about all the times and ways Jesus' disciples missed the point, the ways they failed to understand, followed by Jesus' persistence with them, brings me relief. I may not understand, but as long as I'm asking my Teacher for help to understand, He'll continue to help. As long as I persist in knowing Him, however slowly that might come about, He'll teach me. James confirms this in his letter when he says, "If anyone longs to be wise, ask God for his wisdom and he will give it!" (James 1:5).
What's most amazing to me, is when I ask the Holy Spirit to help me understand, He very rarely uses words. To know Him means to be with Him and experience Him. There are things that happen in the secret place between us that open my eyes to who He is in a way words don't quite can't.
I fail or fall short in remembering the truth about who I am and find myself, again, in the mire. I call His name, and I can almost feel his hands on my face, lifting my eyes to look into His so I can see His smile and love radiating like the sun for me exactly as I am in Him. The grace and compassion and love is so overwhelming I want to look away, but He continues to invite me to rest under His loving gaze.
When I face loneliness, the kind that seems to carve out a bottomless cavern in my soul, and I don't know what to do or how to fix it - I just know I need Him to do it. He might draw me into His lap and tell me, over and over again, "I love you so much."
I worship and just want to be in His presence, and suddenly He's there. He holds my hand.
I can't explain why these intimate moments shift my knowing my Father. I can say that as I continue to learn about who He is, the more I find out who I am. I'm not expert on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, but I can say I'm an expert at learning how to be. I share this today to encourage you.
If you find yourself in a place of longing, desiring to know more of the Father, continue pressing in. Don't just tolerate the truth, be teachable to it. Don't just incorporate it into your life, make it your life.
As you do this, be still and wait for the Lord to act. Be obedient to the lesson, the nudges, the calling to deny yourself and follow His instruction. When you're teachable, willing to make changes and do things His way instead of your way, that's when real change and real intimacy happens. You see Him in the moment, in yourself, in others, in your obedience.
Surrender. It's worth it. It changes everything.