Participate Now, Understand Later

Jesus answered, “You don’t really know (realize now, know now) what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
-John 13:7 (CEV, NIRV, NRSV)

I am fond of the quote by Søren Kierkegaard, where he says that life can only be understood looking back, but it must be lived looking forward.  What is implied is that we walk through things that we do not understand, that we do not know.  Later, we can know or understand.  We gain experience.  We are seasoned.  We get it now.

It is encouraging that we do not need to understand all things in order to participate in life.  Not understanding is normal.  I believe that God wants us to participate.  I believe that God calls each one of us to walk with him, into the unknown, in order to grow and to gain working knowledge of how to walk the walk.

I don't really know what he is doing, and that is ok.  God chooses to not have us know.  He is doing something with me, and I don't need to understand it.  He says that I will understand it later.  I think he wants me showing up and not understanding or knowing.  Saying, "I don't know", is humbling, but God gives grace to the humble (1).

We have things we want.  I have had things I have wanted to see God do.  All the time, God has been on the move, doing things, and wanting to do things.  I have not understood what he is doing.  But looking back now, I understand some of it and the good of it.

Peter and the other Apostles spent all that time, intimately with Jesus.  They heard and saw way more than we have in the four written gospels.  They had the day of Pentecost, so they were not lacking in spiritual fullness.  Yet, they did not understand the whole thing, all the time, and had to continually work things out.  They had to pray, they had to be bewildered.  They had to come together and seek consensus.

When Jesus knelt down to wash Peter's feet, it threw him for a loop.  Jesus did something to him that he did not understand, that he frankly refused, but then accepted.  I like Peter.  And after all the intimate teaching, in the communion of the upper room, Peter also struggled with who he was and publicly saying who Jesus was to him.  This wavering, unsteady, man is the man who gets the revelation that Jesus is the rock that the whole called apart, gathered, people of God is built upon.

The lesson here is that we don't have to understand.  He will teach us to understand.  And how Jesus teaches us is that he has us do things or he does things to us that we do not know.  They are not from us, they do not come natural to us.  They are ways of the spirit and they are paths in the kingdom of God.

I believe that God does not demand ever that we understand.  What he wants is faith that is walked out by showing up and participating in his life.  Jesus says, let me do this uncomfortable thing to you, that you don't understand.  It is unknown to you, but see me, experience me in it.

When we let Jesus do something in our lives that we don't know, that is uncomfortable; we end up with a spiritual upgrade.  You don't get it now, but you will have experiential knowledge later.  When Jesus comes to do something to us, it is not optional.  If we don't allow it, then our spiritual lives stunt or stick or halt there.

The road that he has for me goes through the uncomfortable experience.  Any other road is a detour, and when we are ready, the door to that path he chooses, is awaiting.  We talk about waiting on God or laboring in prayer and life, for God to do something.  All the while, God is waiting for us to let him do what he wants to do, with us, so that we can learn and grow, in him, on his path for us.

Jesus is often beckoning us into the uncomfortable, with him; while we are sad that he is not serving us, and making us comfortable and entertained.  The life is not about understanding, but about trust.

To say, "I don't understand, but I trust you", is to have faith and to gain experiential knowledge through intimate relationship.  Maybe God wants us in humility, so that he can grace us.

Real experiences with God are humbling, and that is a good thing.  We need to be obedient to the things he puts before us that are awkward and even seem backward.  We do not ever need to understand, but he says, that like Peter, we might get it later.  Today, he says, "just do it".  And the one who calls us gives us the ability to do what he calls us to do (2).
1. Prov. 3:34. 29:23; James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5
2. 1 Thess. 5:24