Truth is not meant to be wrapped up then parceled out in neat little reasoned-out packages and compartments that, of course, we can comfortably control and manipulate. As Oswald Chambers said, we can command what we can explain, so we don't like coming up against things we cannot explain, because then we feel like we are not in command, and we are right! If we can always explain things, our truth is not yet big enough. Our ability to reason is God-given certainly, but it is important to distinguish between natural and spritual reasoning. "These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual." (1 Corinthians 2, verse 13) Natural reasoning can often lead us up a blind alley. As when a group of mill workers were bemoaning the fact that a rival mill had given a bigger raise to its employees than they had received. Only a day earlier they had been delighted with their raise, but then the news from the other mill came. That was an example of natural reasoning at close to its worst. There were those in the first mill who were still happy. They reasoned: I was happy yesterday, why shoudn't I remain happy today, and be glad for my neighbors in the other mill and their good news? That was an example of spiritual reasoning at some of its best.
Discovering or contemplating truth ought not to leave us with the impression we have it "all figured out", but instead leave us with a view that an unknown remains still, though we have in fact perhaps "figured out" some small part of it or gained a little more clarity. (I was once amazed by a biology grad student friend of mine who audaciously claimed that science would soon effectively solve all physical mysteries in the known universe or something like that.) In other words we can think humbly as opposed to proudly. We can resist the temptation to apply the worn templates of our customary interpretations to everything we hear. I am thus left with a sense that my understanding is a work in progress. Behind me is the island of what I seem to have been able to clearly grasp so far by the grace of God. Before me is the ocean of the yet incomprehensible. Still kindergartners in the school of tomorrow, we should look both ways before crossing. There's no shame in occasionally answering a query with an honest, yet reverent, "I don't know."
Read more articles by Terry Barlow or search for articles on the same topic or others.