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Challenging More: You Don't Know Everything (and That's Okay)

The idea that each individual person has to know everything can set some on edge. How are you meant to know everything in the short lifespan that you have? In his new book, Meant for More, Rev. John Nunes says it's entirely okay to not know everything. In fact, we should embrace the unknowns and live happily in them. Read an excerpt from his book below to see his brilliant thoughts.


It’s impossible to literally tell the whole truth. The whole truth would derail us with endless details, every concurrent event, every fact in every galaxy everywhere. Only God could know or tell the whole truth. If that’s our starting point, it begins to make sense why life can feel so absurd, so nonsensical, so irrational, so unreasonable, so un-figure-out-able.

It's Okay to Not Know

I take great comfort that it’s not only I who doesn’t get it. The more I live, the more I realize the less I know. With the tip of your finger, tap your chest six times proudly: 1, 2, 3, (rest) 4, 5, 6. Do it again while repeating after me: I / DON’T / KNOW / EV- / ERY- / THING. I often do this with students. Whenever you can both get a laugh and make a point, the greater the odds your teaching will stick. To doubt leads to questions, and questioning leads to learning.

The downside of doubt shows up as a cynicism that can spiral into hopelessness. But healthy doubting leads to questioning, and the questions that arise from authentic reflection lead to faith, despite dire circumstances: “Are You the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3). I fear false confidence more than my true doubts, because cockiness can lead me marching superciliously straight into self-destruction. I have found that questions that cannot be answered are often more important for my spiritual growth than are answers that cannot be questioned.

“There is no justice if it’s just about us. God is the God of all time and all space and all people.”

God's Love Finds You No Matter What

There is no life that is not encircled by God. There is no person in whom God is not invested. There are no unsupervised processes in the universe. Life is no game of spiritual hide-and-seek. God’s love has already found you, and as John 1:16 assures us, all who believe will receive grace upon grace upon grace. “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord (see Jeremiah 23:24). Not just the place and time we occupy. God is not just our God or the God of just our people or just our nation or our congregation or our denomination or our demographic category or our tribe or ethnicity or language. There is no justice if it’s just about us. God is the God of all time and all space and all people. “In [Christ] all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). I can step into every tomorrow with this fresh recognition that the Holy Spirit wants to fill every nook and cranny of my life until I overflow with God’s everlasting love for everybody.

The way of the ancients makes the most sense to me. “Getting it” requires an existential leap, a suspension of rationalism; it demands that we repent from thinking we’ve got it all figured out. You don’t know everything! Live in the mystery. Walk by faith and not by sight. Forgive the unforgivable. Love the unlovable. See the unseeable and call it blessed.

Prayer

Help me, Lord, to improve my spiritual eyesight and my Spirit-formed insights to life. Help me to see the difference between an opportunity and a temptation. Opportunities from You lead to blessings. Temptations come from the world, from my own desires, and from the devil. These sometimes fool me, especially at first, into thinking they are blessings. But decisions apart from You lead to trials, to suffering without solace or sense of direction. Yet, since I am named from eternity and claimed in Baptism, my life has a goal. “I press on toward the goal from the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). With God’s calling on my life, there is always a way out of no way for me, no matter what I’m going through. Jesus is with me, even if I cannot see him. He is with me—in, with and under—in every challenge I see all too clearly. Give me the faith to see this truth. In Your name I pray. Amen.

Post adapted from Meant for More: In, With, and Under the Ordinary copyright © 2020 John Arthur Nunes. Published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.


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