I have always been mystified by the complexity of God. I love his grandness and his nearness, his Creator-hood but not creature-hood, his love and his justice—it is the chasms between what I understand these things to be that makes God good to me. That I cannot fully understand or empathize with him or rationalize him is what makes me worship him. But I also, at times, have found myself caught in the chasm between his characteristics. My flesh wants a plan, a clear path from A to B, an X marking the spot, any spot. I can waylay my growth until it all makes sense to me. And, in my effort to receive the whole counsel of God, I can trip myself up between these extremes.
I had a conversation with a friend the other day who knows Scripture and wants to do right by it, to honor God and others, but who is in a season of simply needing to remember he is loved by God. I asked him if he could ask the Spirit to turn off the cacophony of voices in his head, all saying he is failing or will failed or might fail or could fail, and simply camp on one attribute of God: his love. Can you, I asked, just sit in the reality that God “holds all your tears in a bottle" for one day, one week, one month? Can you meditate on what it means that God communicates in metaphor? Or is this metaphor? What might it mean that God has a receptacle prepared just for you, with your name on it, with your tears in it, and he knows when they fell and why and with whom and for how long? What does it mean that God is a collector of our joys, pains, fears, insecurities, angers, and more? How do you envision God carrying your tears in a bottle? What does his willingness to hold them say about his character? What does it say about you? What does it say about the value of your emotions? Your story? His creativeness? His sovereignty? The questions are endless, you could ask them for days.
I think one of the reasons I and many Christians suffer with our minds is because we believe if we sit in one phrase of Scripture for an extended period of times, then we will grow emaciated or unsanctified. And while there is truth that we need the whole counsel of God, what will it profit a man if we know a lot of verses but have not truly wrestled with the truths they contain? This is why I often read the same book of the Bible 20-100 times straight through over a period of a few days to a few months. When I sit with a singular truth about God, I learn far more than when I try to grab it all and make it fit within the particular day or moment or season of my life.
Right now I am learning about what it means to “nourish and care for my body” and to “love my neighbor as myself” and to truly believe that God’s first observation about man was “very good.” These concepts are tripping me up all over Scripture. Because I am meditating on very small, intricate concepts, I begin to see them threaded through all of God’s word, and it is gradually changing aspects of my heart and mind that have been stuck for decades—aspects I tried to change by applying massive truths about God to them. They needed detail work, not overhaul work.
Because we live in a time when there is a message, sermon, book, meme, or quip for everything we can have a fear of missing out on the pivotal truth we believe will really change us or set us free. Just one more of anything because it might offer the fix. But what if God’s blessing and goodness to us is a book full of sufficient truths about him, us, the world, suffering, love, justice, fear, doubt, salvation, our future, our tongues, evangelism, faithfulness, and everything else? And what if our problem is we come to the Word of God with the same fear of missing out we attribute to news, views, social media, information, and books? Fearing if we miss this one part, we’ll miss something big? What if God’s goodness to us in that is to make his Word unchanging? We don’t have to approach it with a fear of missing out because the words within it are always useful for life and godliness.
So today, camp out on one truth from God. Just one. One verse about his character, or yours, or whatever. Stay in it as long as it takes for you to really believe it. Risk a few days or hours or weeks of hoarding tomorrow’s manna, and just subsist on what God is feeding you with right now. Here are a few verses from Scripture that might be helpful to start with:
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.
You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe.
And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?
Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace.