The Limits of My Understanding
February 17, 2010
To continue the theme of leaning not on my own understanding, I gave some thought to general areas where my understanding is limited. However, I thought I might start with some random specifics.
- I don't understand the how bumblebees can fly. Perhaps someone has explained it to me at some time, but I have forgotten.
- I don't understand string theory - and I don't think anyone really does. I have some hints, but nothing to lean on.
- I don't understand why traffic on the freeway can come to a near standstill while gawkers slow down to observe an accident across the median strip - but I should since I am sure I must have been lured into that web at least once.
- I don't understand the transforming and transcending power of love, but I gladly participate.
That was random and incomplete. There are three areas where my understanding is also incomplete and here they are.
I. I do not always understand the big picture of everything. II. I do not always understand the basic principles of existence. III. I do not always understand the best sequence of events.
Allow me to elaborate.
I. THE BIG PICTURE OF EVERYTHING. I don't see it fully. I believe it exists and that it must exist, but I am inside of it and can not view it from the outside. I think there are two visions that I lack and long for:
- The big picture embraces a bigger future than I can actualize. We are going somewhere. I accept that as a statement of faith, but it is also a sense we have about the universe. There is a path on which I believe I am being directed along with all of creation. I am not certain of all that destination entails and I cannot orchestrate it. So, I trust.
- The big picture embraces a bigger family than I can visualize. Somehow, all of humanity is woven into the tapestry of this purpose. I don't know how everything and everyone fits, but I believe it does.
II. THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF EXISTENCE. I understand some of the principles. I am guided by the wisdom of the ages as it has accumulated and by the scriptures which have never failed me, but I know in part. I can see some enduring truths being played out in human experience and scientific inquiry, but I know there is more to be discovered and uncovered.
- Basic principles govern the unseen realities of our circumstances. The principles are in place. Some we know. Some we don't, but circumstances are not chance; they are logical inasmuch as we can perceive the logic. Logic is built upon logos - Word. In the beginning was the Logos. If we could truly perceive the Logos behind the principles, we might be able to predict circumstances. I cannot.
- Basic principles govern the unanticipated results of our choices. Nothing happens by chance. Choices activate principles, known and unknown. We know enough to apply to get by and by learning more, we strive to thrive. But we do not know all and some of our choices will have unintended consequences. Sometimes, as children, we were told by people older and wiser to do or not to do some behavior. We did not and could not understand the ramifications of our obedience or disobedience. We have to trust with our hearts and acknowledge in our ways the wisdom of the wiser. If I had only leaned on my own understanding in these matters, I would have been dead years ago.
III. THE BEST SEQUENCE OF EVENTS. Things happen in order. Chaos and order are intertwined. People of faith believe that chaos is enveloped by order outside of itself. In our sphere of existence, most things have to happen in sequence. I don't always understand that sequence and cannot lean on my own understanding of it.
- Sequence often defines objectives. One of the great habits of highly effective people as taught by Steven Covey is to begin with the end in mind. We can often glimpse where something might be going by the sequence of events and behaviors we observe. And yet ... we might miss a detail or two and that is the essence of comedy.
- Sequence often determines outcomes. Without the proper sequencing, objectives may be lost and outcomes altered. This is obvious in matters within the purview of our own influence and control, but is unseen in the larger spectrum where multiplied details are unmanageable. There will always be factors beyond our ability to comprehend or quantify. They are part of the sequence of cosmic progression and people of faith affirm that they are guided by an Unseen Hand and related to an ultimate purpose.
That is why, when push comes to shove, while I value and pursue a deeper understanding of whatever I can understand, I do not ultimately lean on my own understanding and choose to:
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6