I Don’t Know and That’s Okay

ezekiel-37

I almost pulled over when I saw the sign.

My son and I took the morning off.  I had a to-do list to attend to.  Cleaning to accomplish.  Writing to get done.

But we were tired.

Our family is having one of those weeks where we barely have time to breathe plus I’d stayed up late watching the presidential election results.

So, I abandoned chores, filled a to-go mug with caffeinated tea, loaded my three-year-old into the minivan and went for a drive.

I saw the sign on our way home while listening to my son chatter about “Batman” and “bad guys” and other highly important toddler issues.

Someone had posted a huge wooden sign on the side of the busy road saying:

Kristen, please come home. ♥

I’ve spent two days thinking about Kristen and praying for Kristen.

A sign like that stirs up my question-asking nature.  I’m always the person asking the most questions.  Always.

And doesn’t this just make you want to ask?

Who wrote that sign?  Who is Kristen?  Why is Kristen gone?  What turmoil was there, what bitterness or anger might have made her leave?

Or maybe she was taken?  What if someone hurt her or is hurting her?

Will she ever come home?  Will things change for the better?

Oh, Jesus, please rescue Kristen from whatever pit has her trapped and maybe scared or hurting.

I almost turned my minivan right around and parked in that lot to take a picture of the sign so I could remember.

But I didn’t.  I kept driving and turns out, I didn’t even need the reminder because Kristen and her sign are etched on my heart.

Here I had my precious baby boy right there in the van with me, still maintaining a running dialogue about superheroes, and another person—maybe a mom like me—was missing someone dear.

Since seeing that sign, not only am I aching for someone else’s pain and compelled to prayer on behalf of another, I’m reminded anew of all I don’t know.

I don’t know anything about Kristen or her circumstances or her family.

I have the most superficial awareness of someone else’s deep reality.

But that’s okay.

We’re people who love scientific certainty, but we live in an uncertain world and that makes us feel a bit shaky at times.

But sometimes the healthiest  and wisest thing we can do is admit we don’t know everything.

In the book of Ezekiel, God shows the prophet a valley full of dead bones and asks:

“Son of man, can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3 NIV).

How would I have answered?

Maybe I’d have lacked faith that God could do the impossible and told Him surely those bones were dead as dead could be–as if I knew all there was to know.

But Ezekiel answered differently.  He said,

 “Sovereign Lord, you alone know” (Ezekiel 37:3 NIV).

God is sovereign, Ruler of all, in control of what we face, aware of all that remains hidden to us.

And we don’t have to know everything, because we know HIM and He knows….and that’s enough.

Every day, we face a million questions, so many without answers.

The questions themselves can be healthy–they can draw us closer to His side.  They keep the dialogue open instead of shutting it down in hurtful bitterness.

We ask:

Why this, God, and not that?  Why do I have to wait?  Why the hurt or the pain or sorrow?

This not-knowing, this life where we can embrace the mysterious and uncertain, can propel us to know Him better.

When we realize what we don’t know, we seek God’s perspective and His answers instead of providing our own.

We leave our problems in HIs hands instead of trying to keep control ourselves.

We stop trying to force our own plans and agendas and start resting in the arms of Jesus.

We can pray by trusting the Holy Spirit to be at work in ways we can’t see to help people we don’t know through issues we don’t fully comprehend.

I don’t know Kristen.  I don’t know her family.  I don’t know the story behind the sign.

I don’t know about a lot in the world, not about why some things happen or what God’s plans are for me or for others around me.

But I can know Him, and I can try everyday to know Him more deeply and truly, and I can remember this:

“Know that the Lord, he is God!  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture (Psalm 100:3 ESV).

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NIV

Flat

Well-meaning strangers have pulled up alongside my minivan and honked the horn so I’ll swivel my head in their direction.  Then they wave their hands at me and initiate a mini-game of charades.

Oh I get it—they want me to roll my window down before the light turns green.  So, I fumble around with my automatic windows, pressing every wrong button in nervousness until I finally get it right just in time to hear them shout out the message.

Passers-by in parking lots have strolled by my minivan and backed up to deliver the news.  Friends from church have walked the perimeter and told me what they saw.

“You have a flat tire.”

I appreciate the alert because I’m an unobservant ignorer of massively important details.  I’ve been known not to notice that my husband has shaved his beard completely off after having it for 3 months.

So, I’m pretty dependent on more observant folks to help me out and sound the alarm.

Unfortunately, the news they bear isn’t at all what I want to hear.

You see, someone has surely placed a magnet inside my tires that attracts every nail on the road in our entire county.  It must be true because I get a flat tire about four times a year.

That seems statistically impossible somehow.

And definitely unfair.

Of course, the frustrating thing about tires is that you never just replace one.  It’s always a matter of two.  That’s a law of physics or something.

Unfortunately, this time the rim was bent and my tires needed to be replaced.

Yes, tire”s” as in two of them (please refer back to the First Law of Tires).

This also means that by some miracle I didn’t drive over a nail in the last month.  I apparently drove over a pothole or something of that nature instead, just to shake things up and keep life interesting. Variety is, after all, the spice of life.

This first reminds me of the Geico commercial of a pothole with a Southern accent.

The difference between the commercial and my reality being that my pothole didn’t speak to me like a Southern belle and apparently it was damaging enough to cause long-term catastrophic failure, but not terrible enough for me to notice it happening.

This whole experience has reminded me of something else, though: How it feels to be flat, sucked dry, breathless, desperate for the Spirit of God, lifeless, joyless, and emptied out.

Oh, how desperately we want to take in God’s presence and His life-giving breath, but no amount of gasping and gulping at the air lifts us off the ground.

So there you remain, feeling the void, unable to move.

It comes on us gradually, this emptiness.  We’ve picked up the tiniest of nails, over and over again from daily annoyances and perpetual busyness.  Perhaps we’ve even bounced over a few potholes that have dented and bruised our Spirit.

Even when you do everything right, even when you flop down at the kitchen table to read God’s Word and you serve in ministry and you love others and you pray and you blast the praise music (when your kids let you choose the songs in the car)….even then it’s possible to wake up one day and realize you are flattened out and suffocating for want of God’s Spirit.

The prophet Ezekiel stood overlooking a valley filled with “bones that were very dry.” They were hopeless and cut off, dried up.  It’s the same as feeling flat with its lifelessness, breathlessness, the deadness, and the void.

God’s message to the bones was:  I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life (Ezekiel 37:5 MSG).  Not just breath!  “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live” (Ezekiel 37:13 MSG).

It was a revival.  A newness of life.  Taking the dead, dried out, and breathless and filling it anew with the very Spirit of our holy God.

But it began with dead bones crying out:  ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off!’ (Ezekiel 37:2, 11 MSG).

They were clamoring for life instead of accepting their dry deadness scattered along the valley floor.  We also cry out to Him, “God, we’re desperate for your Spirit and we won’t remain silent here flattened to the ground.  Fill us anew!  Make Your Word come alive!  Stir my heart to see You, to hear Your voice, to feel Your presence.  Breathe Your life into me.”

And this He will do, maybe through gradual healing and patching together or maybe in a revival of a moment.  He will do it because we ask.  He will do it for the glory of His name so that “you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it” (Ezekiel 37:14).

One of my favorite worship songs: Desert Song, by Hillsong United

This is my prayer in the desert
When all that’s within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King