Genesis 1:8 God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
This nothingness, the expanse, he calls heaven. It is beyond our reach, inaccessible, mysterious. This division of the world is often referred to in Scripture as “heaven and earth,” a separation between something which is immediately accessible to everyone, inescapably our constant experience (the earth) and this other realm that is invisible and unreachable (though the tower of Babel was an effort to get there). If the totality of the universe is described by this binary, then it is clear why heaven is seen as the realm of God and angels and the earth for humanity.
Mystery (that which cannot be explained or known) is one of the key elements of Biblical truth. Not only is it impossible for our small minds to grasp all that God knows, but our efforts to gain power and security by resolving mystery is a fundamental denial of faith. Trust is key to our relational growth into God: dependence, openness, confidence in his care. This trust is only possible if God is trustworthy, that is, if his stance towards us is gracious, if he has our best interests at heart. God’s grace is the grounding for our trust.
This is in contrast to self-trust. If all unknowns can be known, all mysteries solved, then we must simply try harder to sort out this often confusing and inexplicable experience we call life. In that case, lack of insight is our own shortcoming, and we are to blame for not understanding. Since we are called to pursue the light, we easily suppose that our enlightenment depends on ourselves, that any lack of clarity is not only harmful but wrong and shameful, that we are just too stupid to get it. We suppose that God guides us with road signs, pointing us in the right direction, not realizing how often he guides us indirectly, nudging us along in imperceptible ways, keeping us in the dark so that we learn to trust him in the midst of confusion. We suppose that faith is given to overcome confusion, but often faith is given to support us in our confusion. If a loving God is in control, mystery is not a barrier to break through, but the way into deeper trust.
God, I really hate and fear confusion. Instead of driving me to faith, it often drives me to despair. I don’t know which direction to take in life, and I feel trapped and lost. Give me the faith to trust you with the long, slow process of this life, to remember that the path you lay out for me is intentionally and lovingly convoluted.