You don’t know what you don’t know. Why not believe God?
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.”
Suppose for a moment that you are the first human created by God. You’ve just been created, and God has just breathed into you the breath of life. Since everything God made was created in adult form, you’re an adult. You already speak the first language, and are fully aware of God’s names for the colors. From laying on the ground, looking up into the sky, this is what you see:
God speaks. He says, “Hello, my son (or daughter). How do you like this sky I made for you? I made it blue.”
If it’s true that you are the first human, then it’s also true that you’ve never used your eyes before. You think to yourself, Interesting comment God. I see yellow. It is at this moment that you have a choice.
A) I will believe what I see. I see yellow. Certainly God is wrong.
B) Maybe God is right. Maybe we’re both wrong. The sky could be a completely different color. I do not know.
C) I will believe God. He must know something I don’t. The sky is blue.
It is only at the point of conflict between your perceived reality and the Word of God that faith can be applied.
If you chose option A, certainly, that is not faith. That is what we refer to as unbelief. You are choosing your own mind over that of God. You’re choosing your own perception of reality over what God told you, with total disregard for all the circumstances that you may not have the capacity to know or do not know yet.
If you chose option B, that is a scenario referred to as doubt. You know what you saw, and would naturally believe it, but God’s word that contradicted your choice has made you wonder if it could be. Ultimately, you remain undecided until further evidence is provided. The unfortunate reality is that if this is your choice, more evidence will often not be found. You see, the scriptures tell us that God has given every man a measure of faith (Romans 12:3). Like a muscle, faith must be exercised or it atrophies (deteriorates and becomes unusable). The scriptures also tell us that without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). God, in His grace, often times gives us more opportunities to choose, but He’ll never out Himself completely until a choice is made. Why is that? As my Pastor says, “God so values freedom that He gave you the right to choose against Him.” To “appear beyond doubt” would remove the choice that God values – your right to choose His way, or your own.
If you chose option C, you chose correctly. This is faith. You know what you saw, but you know what God said also. The measure of faith God gave you at your creation kicked in, and you thought, “I know what God said doesn’t match with what I saw, but clearly He’s God after all. Something must be wrong with me, or something must be affecting my sight. I will trust God. The sky is blue.”
For the sake of repetition (the key to remembrance), I’ll restate the point I’m making. It is only at the point of conflict between your perceived reality and the Word of God that faith becomes involved – if you choose it.
Why is that? Well, let’s suppose that you woke up and saw a blue sky, which is what God told you. Naturally, you would believe it. But is that faith? Absolutely not – it is simply agreeing with what you already see. Faith is applied when you choose to believe what God says in spite of what you perceive reality to be.
Perhaps if you would have waited it out, your vision would have cleared up. Perhaps asking God for help would have resulted in Him clearing up your vision at a more rapid rate. One thing is clear. Belief in God in spite of your reality not only pleases God, but moves Him off His throne. Who knows, maybe He’ll remove the blue blockers you’re wearing, and correct those brand-new eyes.
I know the sky is blue, Jay. How does this apply to my life?
This analogy depicts life in a world where God is king, and sets an absolute truth over all things. Not only is He the God that knows all things, but in some cases, He set the rules that make them what they are in the first place. This is exactly how faith works. Often times, when God gives us a command, or when He tells us something true, we have an opportunity to judge for ourselves. Often times, what we conclude when we judge is different from God’s conclusion. So who is right? God!
How can this be? You don’t know what you don’t know. Tell an average five year old to tell you the square root of 4. Not only do they not know what a square root is, but they also don’t know how to calculate one. They don’t know you can use a computer or a calculator, if they are even aware of what those things do. The moment before you asked what a square root is, I'd be willing to wager that they didn't know such a thing existed. They don’t know what they don’t know.
You might even give them multiple choice. A) 3. B) 4. C) 2. They can make a guess, but it’s just a guess. They still don’t know what they don’t know. How do you teach them? You tell them the answer. Maybe even before you ask the question, you say, “the answer to the question I’m going to ask you is C) 2.”
Let’s return momentarily to the first-human thought we were exploring earlier. How do you know you aren’t wearing blue blockers that are fogged up? How do you know your eyes, being used for the first time, appear yellow as the blood rushes through them for the first time? How do you know the vision isn’t blurry because your eyes are adjusting? How do you know what you don't know?
So must we choose to trust the Lord. When God speaks, I promise – He knows. He knows things you can’t know. Perhaps there is spiritual war being conducted in the heavenlies concerning your situation. Perhaps God’s word is the only evidence. Perhaps your vision is obstructed, or something big is hidden from your view.
The first time I travelled through the Fort Pitt Tunnels west of Pittsburgh, my father told me, “when we get to the end of the tunnel, pay attention on the left side of the car, because the whole city of Pittsburgh is there.” When we went into the tunnel, it seemed very country. All I saw was the road, trees, and a completely covered side of a mountain. But maybe he knew something I didn’t. So I believed him. And boy was I impressed!
Let me submit to you, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Just because you can’t perceive it, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. So trust God. He knows after all. Besides, you were created to trust Him. Remember that measure of faith He appointed to you? (It’s not too late… use it now! Why now? Well, if not now, when?) As an added bonus, He tends to bless incredibly when your faith moves Him. There’s nothing more perfect that you can do. The scriptures say Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. The Bible also says that Abraham was God’s friend, because he believed God. (James 3:2)
You can’t know what you don’t know. So when the Word of the Lord conflicts with what you see or feel, you have to understand that while feelings are real – we all deal with them -- they are not always true, and you may not be seeing the full picture anyway. So believe God. Life can offer you no better friend. Besides… you were created to, and if you do, He might just show you what you're believing for along with a beautiful blue sky. :)