“U” is for Understanding (March 21, 2012)

…Opening To…

For me, kind Jesus, was thy incarnation, thy mortal sorrow, and thy life’s oblation; thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion, for my salvation. Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee, I do adore thee, and will ever pray thee, think on thy pity and thy love unswerving, not my deserving. (Johann Heermann, from The Hymnal 1982)

…Listening In…

The woman said to the snake, “We may eat the fruit of the garden’s trees but not the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. God said, ‘Don’t eat from it, and don’t touch it, or you will die.’ ” (Genesis 3:2-3; context)

…Filling Up…

This Lent, we are exploring our faith by running through the alphabet. Today, “U” is for Understanding. Usually, when we think of understanding we think of comprehension, of gaining knowledge that makes something clear. “She’s so understanding” means “She gets me, she knows what I’m going through.” “I don’t understand the math” means that some piece of knowledge or skill is eluding you.

These are perfectly good uses of the word “understanding.” But when we transport the word over to our talk about God, we can run into trouble. “I don’t understand God” clearly means that some piece of knowledge is eluding you. But unlike math, it’s not knowledge that you are likely to come by on this side of death. Lack of understanding is often cited as a reason people do not follow too far along the path of discipleship.

But there’s another way of looking at the word that turns things around. In fact, all you have to do is turn the word “understand” around. It becomes “stand under” in the sense of “these bridge supports stand under the bridge, holding it up and taking its weight.” Now the word applies not to our lack of understanding, but to God’s “standing under” us, supporting us, holding us up. We do not have to understand to believe. In fact, I’m pretty sure that God forbidding Adam and Eve from eating of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil is a fine indicator that we aren’t meant to understand everything. And that’s okay because no matter our limited understanding, God will always be standing under us.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you are the foundation of existence and the framework on which you are weaving my life. Help me to believe you despite my limited ability to understand. Help me to take that belief and turn it into action so that I can be an instrument that shows you standing under your creation. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, counting myself blessed that you would choose to make me the person I am and love me into the person I am becoming.

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