When I was younger, I had a way of deciding the big Answers in life. I’d think about them over a period of time, make up my mind one way or the other, and from then on, stick with that choice. The decision, of course, would appear obvious to me, and in this way, I could ignore any grey areas and keep things nice and neat, black and white. The questions were things like politics (Libertarian); music (New Wave); faith (a creator god? not logical); involved believers (religious fanatics); food (burgers mmmm). Back then, I needed only one answer on such complicated topics, and having it all spec’d out ahead of time allowed me to get on with the day-to-day things, like which party to attend.
As I approached midlife, however, I began to realize that this approach left me out of touch with progress and trends (hmmm, vegan?), and my own desires for life. I found that I could not speak intelligibly (or intelligently) about the “why” of my beliefs and values. I had a pat answer, and had forgotten how to think further on it. I had reached an age where things could no longer be so simplistic.
During this morning’s time with God, the two words that came to my attention as a way to describe this change of heart and head are “obvious” and “involved”. These words each have two senses, one more historical and archaic than the other.
‘Obvious’ commonly means “plain to see, easily perceived.” It’s Latin root, ob viam, however, means “in the way” – as in an obstruction that must be dealt with or gone around. I submit that it contains an implication of “being constantly in the way”. In particular, I’m thinking of a great boulder in the road, or a question with no provable answer. It must be consciously navigated and reconsidered each time it comes up. One verse in particular sums up the idea nicely:
“He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.
1 Peter 2:8
My point is that mankind has always sought an answer to the big “Why?” And, daily, some of us return to the question to worry over it like a dog with a favorite bone. (Hmmm, “worry” and “favorite” in the same sentence.) Perhaps it’s only natural for the curious beings that we are to reassure ourselves that “Omnes viae Romam ducunt.” We literally have to go down every road to verify that it does, in fact, lead to Rome.
‘Involved’ commonly means “voluntarily connected or concerned with, included or participating in”. But its Latin root, in + volvere “into + to roll”, has a sense of difficult to comprehend; complicated, and, therefore, entangling. As in something involuntary; something not easy to get out of; a question that we cannot help but try to answer.
This is the opposite of my younger self’s outlook. Now I find an unavoidable molehill-become-mountain blocking my path, and I feel that I am in an ongoing debate over how to resolve it. I’m no longer satisfied with just getting around it.
Do any of you need wisdom? Ask God for it. He is generous and enjoys giving to everyone. But when you ask God, you must believe. Don’t doubt him. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is blown up and down by the wind. People like that are thinking two different things at the same time. They can never decide what to do, so they should not think they will receive anything from the Lord.
Now, I should say that my underlying belief in the God of the Bible is not what is wavering, although I do deal with an ever-present sliver of doubt. Rather, it is when I look around this world that I find questions about why others believe as they do. Or why they don’t believe as I do.
Regardless, there are two things that I believe keep me focused on holding onto the Truth: that the question is obvious and an answer must be sought, and that the one way to that answer is to be involved; to be active with fellow students in the study of the evidence we have.