43 years ago this month, I was a grad assistant at Pepperdine, living off campus with a rarely present friend, riding a motorcycle and a cool car, with three girl friends (none of whom knew about the others, fortunately). On the outside, life appeared perfect. But internally, I was a mess. After four years of spiritual searching, I surrendered control of my life to the only being worthy of it. I certainly didn’t meet that standard.
The ride since has been wild. I’ve pastored churches and sinned and grown, written books and sinned and grown, taught at Christian universities and high schools and sinned and grown.
And the further I travel through life, the more the complexity of life amazes me. Just about every event in my day can possess spiritual significance. Earlier, pride filled me if I didn’t commit adultery or kill or steal or lie. Now, my attitude toward a rude checker reveals how much, or little, I allow God to give me patience. Now, my desire to move through a crowd ahead of others for my benefit reveals my lack of humility. Romans 14:23 frightens me, “everything that does not come from faith is sin.” The complexity of figuring out “what would Jesus have me do” in each event boggles my soul.
I taught science for two years to Junior Highers and still follow it. We once thought that going smaller into the cellular world would reveal simplicity, but it becomes more complex. Some microscopic organisms have rotary motors. Yeah! I’m reading Brain Rules by Medina, and the complexities of memory boggle my mind. OK, it’s been pretty well boggled for a long time! The last I heard, the universe has in the neighborhood of a septillion stars. Put 24 zeroes after 1 to get the idea. AND, the universe needs that amount of stars to control the rate of nuclear fusion in the stars themselves.
But why the paradox of complexity? On one side, the complexity demands a designer. Honestly, I don’t possess enough “blind faith” to accept the premise that this all came by chance. A roomful of monkeys randomly writing all of Shakespeare’s works seems simple in comparison. God as designer makes sense. Only him, to my thinking.
But, here’s another but. But, the detail of the design demands a designer who is FAR above us. Honestly, I can’t get my mind around the concept of God’s complexity, his transcendence. Ironically, when I saw less complexity, I could understand God better. Far above me even then, but that previous gap seems miniscule now. The distance between God’s nature and mine far exceeds my imagination. And, that intimidates me. A lot. I want a God greater than I, but comprehendible. He’s really not. Oh, we can know his traits, his nature, and even him personally. But grasp him? No way. Does that make sense?
I’ve come up with two steps that help me handle complexity’s paradox. First, be convinced that God is real. He exists. He cares. He works. Second, accept uncertainty. Yeah, another paradox. Fully understanding God reminds me of an ant trying to explain the difference between nuclear fusion and fission. This may sound anti-rational, but it isn’t. Don’t let what you can ever understand about God keep you from acting on what you do understand and know as true.
Kick Starting the Discussion
Do some aspects of God’s nature boggle your mind? Which? Why? Can they be figured out, or are they part of the mystery? How well do you deal with those mysteries? Any tips for the rest of us?
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