“…the wrong kind of ignorance is the conviction that we can know exactly what is going on. Those who have too many programs and answers are absolutely blind and their ignorance leads them to destruction. Those who know what they do not know are able at least to see something of what is in front of their nose.” (Thomas Merton. Courage For Truth. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1993, p. 198)
There is a kind of certainty that is limiting instead of freeing. There are plans that assume at a practical level that God will not be intervening any time soon. Do ministries design meetings, services or gatherings that assume God has no likely intention of showing Himself or working among us? Does every gathering run, minute-by-minute, exactly the way we planned it? Is this a good thing? Just questions I ask myself.
And what Merton says about answers and programs hits home. Programs can drift towards becoming self-contained systems. Programs and systems usually seek to eliminate surprises, give standardized answers to all possible questions, and leave us with a process that runs on its own. Is this really what Jesus’ way was like? Wasn’t he continually surprising people? Doesn’t the life of the Spirit involve a certain amount of unpredictability (Consider John 3:8, for example)?
At the same time, I recognize the obvious need for godly processes and methods that can be learned and practiced so that we aren’t starting from scratch at every moment of our life. Do I really have to think again and again about how to brush my teeth? This is where spiritual disciplines and practices help train us in holy and lifegiving habits.
What responses or questions does all this provoke in you?