Thursday, 5 June 2014

Between revelation and reason

So they asked him, ‘Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us?’

---- Jonah 1:8, NIV

As a Nigerian, I often feel like I’m expected to ask this question about any catastrophes in my life. Who is responsible? It’s got to be someone … or something. Not asking this sort of question and not uncovering the answers to it can seem almost irresponsible if you are culturally programmed to believe that everything has a cause or an answer, and that whatever the answer is, you are meant to know it. The flip side of this approach is the mentality that everything in life happens by sheer chance. Nothing is ever externally orchestrated and so trying to dig beneath the surface of catastrophic issues is a waste of precious time – is ‘arrogant,’ even, as it suggests that we are more superior than we really are. It, in a way, suggests that we think of ourselves more highly than we ought to. How dare we presume that we are supposed to possess all knowledge of good and evil?

If I had to locate myself, I would say that I am caught somewhere in between these two approaches to life. I see danger in affiliating myself too strongly with either school of thought – and danger in being completely dismissive of any. In fact, I find that my entire life is one big struggle to achieve balance.

I think it is critical to have revelation knowledge. Without more of it, we’re really in trouble because this life is full of complexities. I think some ways of getting there are suspect, though. It is also a delicate balancing act to try and couple revelation with reason (as contradictory as that may sound).

Here’s what I mean:

Would I like to know why my father had to die the way he did? (For sure.)
Would I like to know why I married who I married out of all the people I easily could’ve married? (Sure.)
Would I like to know why the least likely person to get a divorce in my family (my ‘humble’ self) got divorced? (Yes.)
Etc., etc.

The problem, though, is that I sort of ‘know’ the answers to most of my ‘unanswered’ questions already. I could’ve made a different choice in marriage (and about divorce) for instance – neither status was forced upon me. So to try and now look for a deep, dark reason why I chose whom I chose (when it’s not as if I didn’t have several choices), and why I’m divorced (as if I didn’t file for the divorce myself), is just not ‘me.’ As much as I crave revelation knowledge, I don’t necessarily need a magical explanation for everything under the sun. Life happens – even to the best of us. Those on the far end of the ‘revelation’ side of the spectrum have challenges in their marriages, too (if they’re truthful).

Do I wish I walked in revelation knowledge more regularly? Yes. But if I really mean business and do more of what I know I should be doing (rather than just think about it), I’m sure I can get there.

I loathe being clueless (which I often am), but I loathe being suspicious of everything and everybody more.

So …

Lord, give me revelation knowledge in this my small, non-prayer warrior-like, struggling walk with You.


  1. Coincidentally this week I have been pondering on the words in Proverbs that say 'in all thy getting, get understanding'. Wisdom, knowledge and understanding - the stuff the King Solomon requested for - are what we need to be praying for. WORD!!