We surely do. We like lists and checking things off. It’s annoying when a task has a baby and while you want to cross it off, it now has a part two to complete. Sometimes we add part two to the bottom of our list so we can cross off the first item. No joke.
We like things accurate. We like things specified. Ambiguity is frustrating because it increases our chances of failing. We want to eliminate unknowns so we can navigate as perfectly as possible. Give us diagrams and research with definitive, conclusive evidence. Give us concrete formulas. Nebulous ideas and teachings are the bane of our existence. We even kind of like rules. Just tell me how to succeed, we scream inside, because success and failure feel like life and death.
Which brings up frustration around scripture. Yep. The Bible is, dare I say, not up to our standards. Clarity does not always seem high on God’s priorities. I remember when my babies were born and I was struggling with my faith, I wished I had something better to offer them. Something clearer. My mom told me to reread the gospel of John and I did. It clearly said God loves people. I still thank God for that book being penned by John and kept safe for hundreds of years so I could read it and get clear on the thing that mattered most.
Still, lots of things are unclear. Jews embrace this and love to debate different ideas and interpretations. They wrestle with scripture, turn it inside-out and upside-down to try and find what they missed before. While I admire this approach, my tendency is to force it to be clear by over-simplifying it. This is the warning I want to make to us Type A folks who are also believers.
When you want your walk to have a consistent, upward trajectory, and it’s presently careening all over God’s green earth, don’t try to rein it in. When you don’t like something the Bible says and you want to chop it out or pretend it’s not there, don’t. When you feel confused and questions are drowning you, so you feel like giving up on finding truth, don’t. When you want to be perfect and you’re not and you just wish Ellen White provided a list of lifestyle changes to be made, don’t.*
This journey is a mystery. While everything inside you may say it’s not safe, it is. Because Jesus is over it and around it and below it and in it.
We don’t manage it, guys, and He doesn’t manage it like we would. For sure. And we will be okay.
When I was eleven, I listed my character flaws in my diary and planned to eradicate them one by one. Fastforward thirty years and I have no list or time frame imposed on my sanctification. I just follow my Jesus, one step at a time and listen for the, No, no. Not that. That won’t help. My stress is not what it used to be. I’m learning to walk on water, no solid boat under my feet of progress reports or goals or graphs. Just Jesus’ eyes, holding mine, telling me everything is already okay.
*God wants us to have common sense, and He wants us to reason from common sense. Circumstances alter conditions. Circumstances change the relation of things. Manuscript Releases, vol. 6, 354 We see those who will select from the testimonies the strongest expressions and, without bringing in or making any account of the circumstances under which the cautions and warnings are given, make them of force in every case. Thus they produce unhealthy impressions upon the minds of the people. There are always those who are ready to grasp anything of a character which they can use to rein up people to a close, severe test, and who will work elements of their own characters into the reforms. Selected Messages, vol. 3, 285