So, I put together a terrific case for why my parents should buy this toy. They informed me that at this particular time we did not have quite enough money to spend on a new toy. Of course, I knew this was nonsense. I had just recently looked in my mother’s purse and noted one of those magic slips of paper—known to us pre-debit card children as a “check”. I had watched many times before as my parents filled their grocery cart and then simply written a check to pay for it. In my childish brain, I simply assumed that all one had to do was be a possessor of one of these checks and the sky was the limit.
I politely informed my mother that all she needed to do to buy this Castle Grayskull (or whatever) was to simply write a check. I knew she had one. I knew she hadn’t lost function in her arm. And I’d even supply the pen. So just go get my toy. Even throw in something nice for yourself. Write the check. Done deal.
The solution to me seemed so simple. I didn’t understand how my parents couldn’t see this. And then they explained to me how checks work. I was devastated.
I was reminded about this bit from my childhood the other day when I had a similar conversation with one of my own children. And I realized that I haven’t really grown much. And I’m confident I’m not alone. We have a tendency to assume that if we know about something, then we must know that thing completely. How many passages in the Scriptures do you assume that you have mostly exhausted?
Five New Words
About ten years ago I typed out four words which changed my life: I COULD BE WRONG. I put those four words in bold face at about 72 font and stuck them on a sheet of paper next to my desk. It was a reminder to be passionate about truth but also to be humble because as a finite sinful human being I can be absolutely confident about something and still be wrong. I think I need to write four new words. I COULD BE MISSING SOMETHING.
I’m convinced that these five words could really assist us in our study of the Scriptures. As a seminary student, a pastor, and one on a fifteen-year love affair with the Bible, I can walk into a text pretty confident that I know what it is saying. I interact often with people who are struggling through a passage. If I’m not careful I’ll take their consternation as ignorance on their part. But really it is ignorance on my part (“just write a check, mom!”). They are seeing something that I’m not and working through it. But I cannot see what they are seeing because I’m too confident that I fully grasp the passage.
I’m not saying that we study the Scriptures as if they are simply a wax nose and we can shape how we want. Neither am I saying our study of the Scriptures is always filled with mystery and at the end of the day we will all just be scratching our heads clueless to its meaning. Not at all. What I am saying is that the God revealed in Scripture is inexhaustible and as finite human beings we’ll never plumb the depths. As such it would do us well to remember: I COULD BE MISSING SOMETHING.
You might not be missing something. You might really have mastered a text. So this isn’t some quest to constantly try to find some hidden meaning. It is simply a call to say come into the text without humility and you’ll likely leave as one who not only is mastering the Scriptures but one who is being mastered by the God of the Scriptures.