As human beings, we are naturally curious. We like to know things and understand them. But is our ability to understand everything essential for spiritual growth and the development of spiritual gifts? No. In fact, a sign of spiritual maturity is an acceptance that there will always be things that are beyond our understanding.
Job 36:26 (NIV) How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.
A willingness to not understand is a sign of humility.
God knows everything, we do not. It’s good to remember that Gods ways and His thoughts are so much higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). It’s also good to not think of ourselves more highly than we ought (Romans 12:3). Humility is more necessary for spiritual growth than understanding is.
Humility is equally required in our spiritual gifts. Even when Father reveals something to us, we only get a part of the picture or story.
1 Corinthians 13:9 (NIV) For we know in part and we prophesy in part.
A willingness to not understand is a sign of trust.
Proverbs 3:5 (NIV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
Completely understanding something often eliminates the need for having to trust in someone. God wants us to trust in Him completely, yet too often our greater trust can be in our ability to understand something.
When it comes to receiving a prophetic word from God for someone, we don’t always understand what it means. This can be a scary step of faith, because if we had a little more understanding, we could be a bit more confident. But the truth is, these are the very times when our trust in God is to be greater than our trust in our understanding.
If there is an item of technology that you completely understand and you know from experience it works, your confidence is in the item. However, if you don’t understand an item and you don’t know if it works, your trust in it is connected to who tells you about it. If you trust the person, you can trust the item.
When God speaks, we can trust Him completely. If we don’t understand what He says, we can still trust in Him because He is always trustworthy.
A willingness to not understand keeps us from distraction.
Many people have spent many hours trying to understand something. While understanding in and of itself is not a wrong pursuit, the problem is when the time given and the thing pursued is taking you away from time with Father and what He wants to show you.
When the disciples asked Jesus about the times and seasons, He redirected them to His present commission to be His witnesses (Acts 1:6-8). If the disciples had stayed focused on what they wanted to understand, they would have been off track with what Jesus was initiating.
It’s important to note that the disciples weren’t asking a question about something grievous to God. The question itself and the desire to understand the times and seasons was not wrong, but it was not Jesus’ focus at that moment. Their ability to move beyond understanding did not distract them from the powerful day of Pentecost and the birth of the early Church.
A willingness to not understand is an invitation into deeper intimacy.
Ephesians 1:17 (NIV) I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
When it comes to knowing God and walking with God, there will always be an element of mystery. There is both the reality that God is infinitely larger than our natural minds can ever comprehend, and the invitation to search for Him more intimately.
Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV) You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Finding God on deeper levels is not connected to natural understanding but to divine wisdom and revelation. This is about finding God in our heart and our spirit, not just in our minds. It is knowing Him as Abba Father. There is something beautiful about knowing someone, and because of what you know, your desire to know and love them further grows stronger over time.
A willingness to not understand is an invitation into deeper peace.
Philippians 4:6-7 NIV Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
We often bring our requests to God because we do not understand something. Our way of doing things would be for God to give us the understanding to our requests and that peace would be the result of understanding. But this is so often not God’s way and it is for a very good reason.
If understanding is the ultimate goal of our prayers and it is the guaranteed outcome, our peace is attached to our understanding. But when we are growing deeper in intimacy with the One who loves us unconditionally and completely, our peace is found in Him and it is experienced even deeper in the absence of understanding.
Job 37:5 (NIV) God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.
We should desire to know God better and to understand His ways more. But this understanding is a spiritual revelation from the Holy Spirit, not an accumulation of facts from studying books or from life experience.
So as we lean into God more and desire what is on His heart for us and for others through us, we are called to be faith-filled people who have a confidence in God and a willingness to live beyond our understanding.