I suppose I could not easily count the number of conversations I’ve had over the years dealing with scripture, life and the perceptions of each. I’ve known people who believe that God decrees each and every minute detail of our lives and others who believe there is no god. While in my late twenties, I briefly tried to convince myself that the latter group might be right. It was not some noble search for truth but rather a desperate desire that would free me from moral restraints. “If there is no god, then there is no Day of Judgment, and if there is no judgment, then I can do whatever I want without fear of eternal consequences.” Josh McDowell’s Evidence That Demands a Verdict put an end to that before I’d finished the second chapter. Instead of launching myself into an epic journey of sensual adventure, I started teaching Christian evidences to college kids.
I’ve tried to help a number of people make sense of their lives, tried to help them deal with beliefs twisted by tragic events. I don’t know that I’ve ever succeeded in any remarkable way but I have had a few of them tell me later that what I’d said had really helped them through a tough time. One of the most poignant things I’ve said in some of those conversations is, “I don’t know.”
I cannot explain God. I cannot understand God. I cannot explain nor understand God for a reason vaguely similar to why I cannot adequately explain quantum physics; I cannot quite comprehend it myself. Theology at times seems to me like trying to explain the universe to a tree frog. I have found faith much more satisfying than theology.
The human preoccupation with explanation inevitably collides with events and situations beyond our capacity for comprehension. I believe that God is often blamed for things with which he had nothing to do and often gets credit for things in which he had no involvement. At the same time, I believe that he is intimately involved with my life and intimately aware of my circumstances. No matter how angry I’ve been with him, he has never abandoned me. Even when I have turned my back on him and stubbornly pursued my own choices, he has never forsaken me. Even when he has allowed me to experience the consequences of those choices, he has never punished me. Even though I follow with a sometimes-faltering step and often mutter to myself about the current path, I still follow.
It is not faith that trips us up; it is the frustration of trying to reconcile our theology with our experience of the world.