An Ode to Uncertainty

It must be nice to have all the answers.  The rest of us get to walk in the dark amidst the mystery and uncertainty while trying not to break a toe on the bedpost.  Some people have more (perceived) authority to be so sure of themselves than others.

When Constantine took control of the reigns of Christianity and the councils were banishing people as heretics left and right in the name of orthodoxy, those who had the ear of the emperor could carry an air of confidence as they wrote the theology books.  It’s no surprise that it didn’t take long for the desert fathers and mothers to escape the sureness of the prevailing theologians and seek an experience of God outside of dogmatic decree.

This cycle has repeated itself throughout religious history and on into the age of enlightenment and reason.  Fundamentalists latched onto and nailed down anything they could in the whirlwind of logical existentialism and emerged from the rubble with a literal and confident understanding of scripture and theology.  It’s worth noting at this point that theology isn’t really the study of God, but rather the study of humankind’s thoughts and perceptions about God . . . .

Today, we are finding more and more people grappling with the questions that have plagued us since the beginning of time.  Better yet, there is an increase in those who are being vocal and doing something about the questions that they carry.  Some choose to study theology more deeply to find the answers.  Some read the Bible or ask clergy.  Other, sit in silence with their heads in their hands wondering what went wrong when, like Elijah, they finally discover God “in the sound of sheer silence.”  This isn’t the “knowing” of God that they had sought, but rather an experiential “unknowing” that is ultimately more real.

In a society where we are taught to learn more and know more regarding just about everything, it is difficult to embrace mystery.  Yes, it’s irresponsible to rest upon platitudes and merely make the words, “God works in mysterious ways” an ascent to ignorance.  However, for most of us, we would serve ourselves well by practicing a little more awareness and a little less certainty.

As of late, I have come to see the truth in this line of reasoning in my own life.  Things that I thought would serve me and make my life more fulfilling have, at times, turned out to be a hindrance.  Being so sure of what I need and of what God needs of me usually will only lead to discontent.  Instead, I will sit in the darkness and not be so concerned about stumbling because I choose to be there – embracing the beauty, the experience, and my own transformation from the inside of an unknown, mysterious, and still-creating God.

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