I often carry around a box. A box that contains nothing, though for years I believed it held everything.
This box held God.
Or so I thought.
Like so many who have grown up in the church, I have now emerged from the inward, high-built walls of the church in which I was protected from the “lies of the world.” The oddity is I now find a world far different than what I was told about. What once was described in black and white, gray is all I see.
To be a Christian was to be aloof, but to know the answers to all of life’s questions. I thought I had it all figured out. After all, I had taken the World Views class with the pastor’s wife in which I was taught all the ideas of the world and how they were distortions and lies of the old serpent, the Devil. TRUTH, all of it, was known. There was no room for doubt or an “I don’t know.” I had the sense that I had everything figured out. Faith was a crutch on which the weak Christians leaned. I had logic and knowledge of the Bible. I didn’t need faith and thought less of people who spoke of it.
But then it happened
God kicked in my box.
All that I thought I had figured out, I actually had not.
All that I thought I knew, I actually didn’t.
And it happened in the place where the graves of so many young churchies lay—the college campus. I faced, for the first time, the perspectives and arguments I thought I knew. I did not. All the answers I was given could not stand against those who spoke a contradicting view. There was suddenly room for “I don’t know.” For faith. And it struck me when I could not provide an answer.
And now, after nine years of schooling, I am faced with ever-increasing questions.
The answers never came the way I thought they would. Following Christ gradually became less of a cerebral thing and more a way and walk of life. Even when things never fully made sense or fit in a nice neat package in which I was accustomed.
I was left with more questions than answers. Every time I turned over a rock, thinking I had discovered the answer, 10 more queries emerged. And then I had a revelation.
Perhaps not knowing was the point.
God, the scriptures and TRUTH are not wrapped neatly, contained in some quaint little box with a pretty little bow.
I cannot “get” God because God cannot be gotten. He is infinite. He is beyond the beyond. He transcends our understanding and learning. Anything I could understand of Him is infinitely larger and infinitely transcending. The fullness of God and His truth can never be contained in my box.
Now I am not saying God and Truth cannot be known. What I am saying is that neither one can be fully known. The fullness of TRUTH and God cannot be known by His creation. God, who is the TRUTH, is infinite. Since I am not infinite, I am not capable of fully knowing Him. I have my little mind in my little part of His vast universe.
For all practical purposes, I might as well be blind.
I am groping at TRUTH as one clinging to a wall in the dark, trying to get a picture of the landscape in my mind. Or as a blind person sees another by touching his face.
I want to understand. I want to explore. I want to describe.
This infinite God, no longer in a box, is out in the wild world. And I intend to follow Him there.
Since then, I have been called many things, "heretic" the most common among them. “How can you know the Truth of anything if you doubt your capacity to know Truth?” they say to me.
Well, I don’t know.
I certainly don’t believe TRUTH is something you can “have,” as if you could handle it all.
I do believe we can know things, but most things are still unknown.
For this belief, I find myself in a strange position—a place in the middle. I receive insults and criticism from both sides. My academic friends, who deny the very existence of truth, think I am foolish for believing that there is such a thing. Yet to my Christian friends, I have “eroded the foundation of our faith.”
While I believe God is not contained in my box, I still find myself carrying it around. Often, with cardboard flaps flopping about. I seem unable to let go. I want to put God back in my box. And I cling to that box for dear life because it is comfortable and deceivingly reassuring that I have God in my arms. I rationalize for the sake of simplicity, teaching or outright practicality. But I consistently find that He will not let me put Him back in.
So often I walk around, carrying this empty box. A vestige of my once completed, systematic and apologetic-ready theology.
But at least I know my box is empty, having long ago unpacked and searched every corner and crevice to make doubly sure it contained nothing. So many Christians are walking around blissfully ignorant, toting their boxes around thinking God is safely contained within.
May God kick in our boxes.