I met God in London and we talked as He walked me to New Cross Rail Station. My first question was, "God I want to understand you." He smiled and said, "Fine, go ahead." "But I don't God. You're incomprehensible." There was a palpable silence from the Creator. The pace then slowed a little and God asked, "Have you stopped understanding me?"
I told him that I have not but it is frustrating to understand someone who is neither here nor there, neither fair nor unfair, neither provable nor un-provable. I told God that he is too encrypted, too surreptitious, too-behind-the-scenes. He is in other words an enigma wrapped in a mystery, triple-locked in a safe, thrown into a black-hole and hidden in a thousand dimensions.
God immediately understood what I meant – he’s God after all - and said, "But didn't you want to understand me?" I nodded and replied, "Yes, yes. I want to but I simply can't." God then asked me whether I am thinking of giving up. And I said I have often reached the end of my patience because I only faced a dead-end, a theological cul-de-sac.
"Son," God said. "If you want to understand me, you need to continue this quest." "You mean I need to continue the journey even when I have reached the end of my road?" I said. God shook his head and said, "Your journey has yet to begin. It seems like you have come to your own conclusions about me even before gaining any mileage."
"You mean there is more to you to discover? But I have read the Bible, studied the scriptures, attended church services, and committed to a few ministries during the days of my youth, and I realized after some time that you are still the same yesterday and today and tomorrow...that is, you are unpredictable, most times inconsistent, if not contradictory, and you appeared to me to be a fence-sitter on some life-and-death matters."
At this time, I knew I was out of line. I knew I was more than disrespectful but it all came out quite unconsciously, spontaneously - more like pent-up frustration. A fumbling catharsis of sort. I apologized to God as we looked out for oncoming cars and crossed the road towards the rail station.
"Son, you have understood me reasonably well thus far…as is humanly possible," God said. I was wide-eyed and was somehow disarmed by that line: "What do you mean God? I am expressing my lack of faith in you." “No son," God said. "You are just discovering how I work. But there’s a long way to go from here."
At this time, I can't say that I understand what God wanted me to understand about him. He was speaking in riddles again and that's the part that confounded me most. "God, let me get this off my pneumonic chest. Pardon me please. Your nature is perplexing. Your love is puzzling. Your promises fell short. Your power is self-constraining. Your coming doesn't seem like it's happening. And your silence is deafening. How does all that count as understanding?"
By this time, we had been walking for the last 20 minutes and the train station was just 100 meters away. God paused in his track for a while and said, "Son, you will always learn new things about me. Your life is a journey of discovery and this journey is not going to be easy. There will be dead-ends, high walls, deep schisms, meandering valleys and bottomless pits. They are there to deepen your quest and make the journey worthy of your time and curiosity. I will always be ahead of you in space, time, knowledge and mystery. You know that right? Your understanding of me will always be limited. You cannot fully understand me. Neither can you pigeon-hole me. You may attempt to make ambitious assumptions about me but they will not come close to who I really am and what my plans for you are. My truth will remain paradoxical just as my love, grace and sacrifices will remain unfathomable. Do you understand all that? Can you accept all that?"
I was trying hard to see the point of all that seemingly pointless merry-go-round explanation from the divine authorship. "So, am I to give up knowing you? Is this going to be a futile search for the one discovery that means everything to a believer?" God paused again and said, "Son, what if I tell you that there is no way you can hope to understand fully how I run this universe or the laws involved in making life and processing death?" I hesitated for a while and blurted out, "Is this a cop out? Are you avoiding the issue?" God smiled: "I will always be beyond your most penetrating epistemological quest to probe and know me. You’re an image of me remember? Not the whole picture…yet."
"So ignorance is bliss?" I muttered, disgruntled. "Not bliss son,” came the quick rejoinder. “It is naive to expect any bliss in this world groaning for answers. The only true meaning in this world is your persistent quest to know me. You give that up, you give up meaning altogether." Now it was my turn to give pause. "But I will never fully know you right? So what's the point? Why go further? Just to be blissful in my infinite ignorance?"
God saw that we had arrived at the train station and he turned to me, "This is your stop. Take care son." I was ruffled, annoyed even. "God, is this how we end this theological cliffhanger...leaving me still hanging?" He then gave me a handwritten note and put it in my pocket, whispering, "For the time being, this will do." I then rummaged my pocket and pulled out the piece of note and lifted my head to look for God. He was gone, just like a magician disappearing behind a puff of white smoke.
I quickly opened the note and read it:-
"Nice talking to you, son. You seek to know me but what comes after that. Like a textbook or a course, you sign up for it, study it, master it and it is discarded. I am not an academic text or a science project or a self-improvement seminar. I don't come as a well-designed step-by-step-instructions manual. Is knowing me that way your end-goal in life? But if you seek to have a relationship with me, then knowing me becomes just one of its means. Knowing me then embodies a variety of meanings. It means experiencing, surrendering, giving, waiting, caring for those I love, praying in faith, hoping with persistence, doubting even because you don't take yes for an answer, pursuing me with passion, sitting down with me to learn, enjoying the silence, being assured of the silence, being strong amidst the silence, persevering through your trials, trusting, loving and believing, and in all that, you will come to know me even more, much more than what you seek when you first started your journey, that is, just knowing me period. Son, you can know about me or know with me. You can confine yourself to the things you see or allow me to gradually open your eyes to the things I see. It’s not just about knowledge, but faith, hope and love. Knowledge takes you from one point to another, but faith, hope and love take you from one point and beyond. Never forget that. For now, take care my son. Love Dad."