Not Knowing and the Crucifixion of the Intellect

He went out, not knowing where he was going.
Hebrew 11:8

Waiting in the check out line, I indulge in my guilty pleasure – scanning the headlines of the National Enquirer. BILLY RAY RAGE: DISNEY DESTROYED MILEY CYRUS! GAGA-MADONNA WAR ERUPTS! I resist pulling an issue of Celebrity News off the rack to catch up on Tom and Katie. I save that for the beauty salon, when I am less apt to run into someone I know.

Back home as I haul in the groceries, my dog gives me a good sniffing, reading me front and back like a newspaper full of local scandals. All of us critters seem to be created with curiosity, as we wave antennae, bounce sonar, phosphoresce, and sniff out the news of our world and of one another, often shamelessly poking our snouts in our neighbor’s crotch.

Such knowledge – lurid, informative, or life saving – may empower, entertain, set us free, or provide our supper. Knowledge opens doors to invention, opportunity, and innovation.

The Bible understands that the highest kind of knowledge is knowledge, not of my neighbor’s stupid acts and reckless behavior, but of God. Knowledge of God is not for sale in the supermarket check-out line, but is given free through growing intimacy with Holiness. Knowledge of God flows from creation, scripture, people, even, sometimes, the check out line at Savemore, but, most significantly, from companionship and personal communion with the Holy One. Such knowledge and understanding develops through the exchange of love in the experience of a life shared with Christ through prayer. Like my dog, Elijah, one begins to know God, because I have sniffed at God long and often enough to recognize his scent.

Understanding of God is arrived at by literally standing under, that is to say, by lowering and humbling oneself. We stand beneath God, looking up, aware that we see only a portion of what is there. In faith we surrender to hints and intimations, glimpses and sudden dazzling displays of grace.

But inquiring minds want to know! We yearn to know where our lives are headed and to grasp with our minds what is and what shall be. We hunger to secure ourselves. We hitch ourselves up to institutions, college degrees, causes, and ideas. We cinch ourselves into relationships of aggression or hate, boredom or lust, dependency or bullying. We set our agendas and bind them to our foreheads.

Yet, deepening knowledge of God always asks us to trust. As we know God more, faith becomes the consent to knowing less and less about most everything else. As Oswald Chambers wrote, “God does not tell you what he is going to do – he reveals to you who He is.” Such not knowing is almost certain to make us really anxious.

Have you ever been asked to crucify your intellect, to kill that inquiring mind that has to know everything, understand and control everything, and be right all the time? Your life experience may lead to the painful crucifixion of your intellect. On this Golgotha, pinned by the circumstances of your own experience, you find that nothing you can figure out or find out or do can move you out of this impasse. You, left hanging there, can only wait, trust, and abide in love not knowing.

In a time of such acute unknowing we are likely to be filled with an overpowering panic and rising anxiety to secure ourselves with certainties, assurances, undeniable truths, and absolutes. 


Now the Lord said to Abram: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I shall show you.” Genesis 12: 1

Seventy five year old Abram and his wife, Sarah, showed a great deal of courage heading off on a journey on the word of the Lord alone without a clear destination. They had no maps, realtor photos of their new home, or contracts to wave before the querulous neighbors. They headed out in obedience under the cold moon and starry skies into a great unknown.

Though I doubt if it happened this way, I like to think of the old couple heading down the road to nowhere, waving their hats, urging the camels forward, and hollering, “Let ‘er roll!”

You are closer to glory
leaping an abyss than upholstering a rut

James Broughton (Little Sermons of the Big Joy)

The Sanctuary Foundation for Prayer
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