When we bought our house and went to our closing we were presented with a pile of papers that were as tall as a half-dozen stack of flap jacks. We signed our name so many times that Hal and I each developed a raging case of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Our attorney was there to help guide us through the process. He showed us the terms of our mortgage, how the numbers broke down, explained clauses and footnotes. There was a lot that made sense. But there was a lot that didn't make sense. We never asked any questions. We just wanted our keys!
There were legalities and jargon that flew right over my head but I trusted that our lawyer wouldn't steer us wrong. There was enough that I did know and understand to make me feel secure.
Ididn't have to understand everything. There were things that I wouldn't get even if I had studied for years. I figured that I didn't need to know every single detail, only the big picture. We were buying a house and I was going to get to live an American dream.
We took a bit of a leap of faith and trusted that things would be okay. We focused on the big picture and that was all that mattered. We didn't expect to understand everything or demand explanation of every line of the contract.
Yet, when it comes to the bible I seem to think that I need a line by line breakdown. I was studying Romans yesterday and got stuck on Chapter 9 which deals with free will vs. predestination. At least on the surface it does. That's always been a big one for me (I'm sure I'm not alone in that one). How can the idea of free will be valid if God knew you, who you are, every mistake you'll ever make, your entire life all the way to the end, before you were even born?
Luckily, I had some resources that helped me sort things out a bit. What I found (as is almost always the case) is that it's dangerous to read the bible for face value. It requires a much deeper study. In order to read Romans you need to know Paul and what the Israelites were dealing with at that time. In order to know that, you need to read through Acts which would not make sense unless you read the gospels which would be easier understood by knowing the entire Old Testament.
And even if you read all of that, there are going to be things you understand and things you don't understand unless you are a seminary student or biblical expert. What you need is to read it, understand what you can, look for information to fill in the gaps and pray about it. That helped me to understand it better.
I say "better" and not fully because I think the bible only takes us about 90% of the way on understanding. You have to throw a heap of faith in for that last 10%. God will only walk us so far along the path and teach us word for word. He will eventually bring us to a precipice. He will present us with a wide, deep and jagged-edged canyon with no bridge and will perch himself on the other side and smile and wave. We have to decide whether we want to believe or not, whether we go to him or not.
"Come on," he'll say. We see him on the other side and want desperately to get to him but will be terrified that when we step off the ledge, we will come crashing down. I'm not going to pretend that it's not scary. The idea of crossing a canyon with no bridge sound completely crazy. It's not until we take that leap, that step of blind and often unreasonable faith that we find that we've been standing next to him the entire time. He's never left us. We were always safe. We just had to take action to reach him.
Without that step of faith we are left alone, bound by our fears and able to see but not touch him. We stay in our confusion because there is comfort. The problem is that we often choose comfort over exhilaration.
So, I'm not going to choose comfort anymore. When I get to those parts of the bible that send my mind reeling, I'm going to trust him. I'm going to take a leap of faith and try to focus on the big picture. It would be silly to never hold the keys of my house until I understand every bi-line. And it would be even sillier to never hold the keys to the kingdom because I don't understand every line of the bible.
Why is it that I can so easily sign my mortgage without thinking twice, yet go through every line of scripture with a fine-tooth comb? That I'm so willing to trust my lawyer but not trust the word of God?