Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hold On a Little Longer

There are many things we don’t know, probably many more than we do know. We may learn a little and then think we know everything (just ask any teenager), but everything we learn just opens doors to new fields of knowledge of which we are still ignorant. It is a sign of the wise that they not only know their own limitations, but they also know that the more they know, the more they realize how little they know.

It’s a similar situation with faith. After we’ve learned our catechism and read a few dozen books, we may think we’ve got a pretty fair knowledge of the things of God. But the more we enter into the mysteries of God, the more we get a glimpse of the boundless vistas of the knowledge of God. And after many years of study and prayer, we come to realize that we are still neophytes, that we’ve barely scratched the surface of divine truths and of the meaning and depth of life with the Lord.

From a “negative” perspective, this realization ought to keep us humble enough to avoid all haughty or narrow denigration of those who don’t see things as we do, and all misplaced rejoicing at the misfortunes of others, by which in some strange way we consider ourselves vindicated. It may be that on some points we are right and others are not (though we might think so for the wrong reasons), and it may be that some suffer trials because of their erroneous beliefs or misbehaviors, but how all that fits into the divine plan we shouldn’t venture to guess, but rather pray for greater insight and a vision that expands more and more towards the dimensions of God’s own.

But I’d rather look at our limited knowledge and awareness from a more positive perspective. We are called to believe in things we cannot see, to accept things we cannot (fully) understand, to experience divine encounters (often subtle) that are far beyond our ability to comprehend or articulate. Yet we’re called to remain and to bear fruit in this twilight of knowing/unknowing, of touching but not possessing, believing but not seeing, entering but not comprehending.

We’re also called not to give up or become discouraged with our limitations, our inability to see what we believe, and with the hints and traces of the divine presence that don’t quite “materialize” to our satisfaction, or that mysteriously disappear like the Lover in the Songs who knocks but playfully flees when we arise to open (Song of Songs 5:2-6). Hold on a little longer, says the Lord, wait in faith and patience; eventually all will be revealed, and you will know as you are known.

I think the Lord waits even more impatiently than we do for the final fulfillment, the full manifestation of his glory and his kingdom, the ultimate and unending embrace. I can almost see Him watching our astonished delight as we finally see what we have long struggled to believe, when the mysteries we thought we knew something about open up undreamed-of panoramas. And the Lord will delight in our delight; He will rejoice in our joy at having at last found Him whom our hearts love, as we discover within us more love than we ever thought possible.

Hold on a little longer. It’s all true. It will all be revealed. A time is coming when we will no longer “see in a glass darkly,” but will see face to face. Now we must struggle, we must live by faith, we must reach out through the darkness to the Light of the world. But if you do hold on, when that day comes you will rejoice with a glorious and grateful joy, and you will see all mysteries revealed, will drink deeply from the Living Water, will forget all your trials and sufferings, and will see that God was right all along, that it was the right thing, the only right thing, to believe, follow, and obey Him. The Lord has promised it, and He will do it.