Thursday, April 25, 2013

The certainty and security of what we know and don't know

In 2002, Donald Rumsfield made a controversial comment about what we know: "There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unkonwns--there are things we do not know we don't know."

Among other things, Rumsfield was criticized for his convoluted use of language--and this post has nothing to do with the politics of his statement. But I think he raises a good point in terms of what we know about what we know or don't know. And I wonder if the categories of knowledge may look more like this:

  1. We know that we know.
  2. We know, but we don't know that we know.
  3. We don't know, but we know that we don't know.
  4. We don't know, but we don't know that we don't know. 
Or, maybe there's only three categories that matter:
  1. What we know for certain
  2. What we think we know (but may or may not actually know)
  3. What we don't know (whether we know or don't know that we don't know it)
Before I lose all my readers, I promise I'm making a connection soon... :) Some of you know, we have been on a "house journey" for about 6 - 8 months. We feel God is calling us to live in Plainview, and we've been trying to sell our house since October. In this process, God has taught us so much about trusting and walking in faith. And I was thinking this weekend about these levels of knowledge, and I was thinking that what I know for certain, and what I think I know, and what I don't know have all been so tested in this season to the point that some days, all I can do is declare: 
"Lord, I don't know what you're doing in all this. I don't know what your plan is, but here's what I do know..." 

In this journey, I've learned so much about the false security of the immediate--what we think we know and can take control of, which can, in fact, be easily changed. Our circumstances change, both good and bad, but His character, His attributes--these are things we get to know that we know for certain. 

Here is what I know: He is good and faithful. He is for me and with me. He will not fail me; He will not forsake me. He never changes. He is my rock, my refuge, my safe place. He is sufficient. He is my hope, my security--I have all I need in Him. And He is Daddy; He will provide for all our needs. 

When all that's in front of me is doubt and confusion, I just have to go to what I know. If I focus on what I think I know, I am fooled, and if I focus on what I don't know, I am frustrated. But if I focus on Him, I am fulfilled. 

After a long journey (I'll spare you the full story, but the climax includes re-plumbing our entire house), we have a contract on our house, we have survived the option period, and, Lord willing, we will sell our house on May 29. But there's a reason James writes, 
"Come now, you who say 'Today or tomorrow, we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit'; whereas, you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live or do this or that'" (James 4:13-15). 
And because of that--because the certainty of our move is really only in "Lord willing," the Lord even still reminds me to hide my heart in Him, to put my plans and the "what we think we know" in the sovereignty of His hands. 

And so I do, but still I am left with other "unknowns," chief of which is where we will live in Plainview. And I don't know whether the answer to this question lies in knowledge 2 or knowledge 3:
  • Do we know the house God has for us in Plainview, but we don't know that we know?
  • Or do we not know, and so we just know that we don't know?
I'm not sure. Our "house in Plainview" story is about as long as our "Selling our house in Lubbock" story, but here's the short version: Back in October, we found a house we loved; then we had to re-plumb our house in Lubbock, which knocked that house out of the realm of possibility  Then we found another house we liked, but the inspection report blew that one quickly out of the realm of possibility -and at about the same time, the price on house number one was reduced, putting it back in the realm of possibility. 

So now we ask: Was the first one removed because it wasn't what God wants? Was the second one removed because the first is actually what God wants? Or were both removed because neither are what God wants? 

All along God has told me that He will open the doors so clearly and fully. And He has also told me not to plan--not to think I know, not to try to figure it out. And as hard as it's been, I feel like He wants to keep me in two places of knowledge: 
  • What I know I know for certain: His character and attributes
  • What I don't know, but don't know I don't know: which keeps me trusting in Him
When we got the second contract on our house in Lubbock, we laughed; we were in complete shock. I told the Lord, it would be like you to surprise us and also to orchestrate it at a time when we have no plan for a house in Plainview. 

So, even today--approximately one month from our closing date--I just declare that I still don't have it figured out. I don't know, and I don't presume to know what God is doing or how He will work it all out. But what I do know, I get to know for certain: I am His and He is sufficient for me.