Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Search for Certainty

I try hard to hide it, but deep down I have to admit I'm a pretty gullible person. It's really easy for me to set aside my own worldview and superimpose a different one. My dad couldn't do this though. That's why he hated science fiction shows. They didn't fit his understanding of how the universe worked so he simply dismissed it. But I find it easy to fit into the Star Trek and Star Wars universes -- or to believe that turtles could actually be teenage mutant Ninjas.

So if I had found myself in Dr. Dionysius Lardner's class at the University College in London in the 1800s, I could easily see myself disbelieving we'd every travel faster than 15 miles per hour. After all, he was a noted professor of natural philosophy and astronomy. He made a very startling and confident assertion: "Rail travel at high speed is not possible, because passengers, unable to breath, would die of asphyxia." For him, the laws of physics made it impossible for humans to travel at high speed.

Fortunately, someone else wasn't as gullible as me, and was willing to challenge that prediction. Otherwise, you and I would be putting along the freeway at 15 mph, or drifting across the country in hot air balloons. I wonder if he lived to see how wrong his conclusion had been.

Like most of us there was a time in life, in my late teens and early 20s, when I thought I had the whole world figured out. But in the decades since then I've learned just how limited my understanding really was -- and still is. I don't cling too tightly to conclusions I've reached about the world, and I'm open to the possibility, even the probability, that I constantly need to examine and readjust my conclusions about life, relationships, sports and science -- even about God.

I take great comfort from David's philosophy in Psalm 131, "O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore."

Of course, that leaves the possibility of being wishy-washy, thinking that there is nothing sure or certain in the world. But I am confident that there are things in this universe that are unchanging absolutes. But those are outside of me; they are found in God's very nature. He says, "I the Lord do not change" (Malachi 3:6a). And elsewhere it is written, "God is not man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfill it?" (Numbers 23:19).

When it comes to God's promises of forgiveness for Jesus' sake, His mercy and compassion on lost sinners, I never have to worry that I have that wrong or that God might change His mind. He has made that eternally clear. Likewise, God's Law and standards of right and wrong will never change -- no matter what my feelings might say, or the experiences of someone who is dear to me, or the Supreme Court of the United States.

Jesus was extremely direct and clear when He said, "For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished" (Matthew 5:18).

When it deals with the clear things God has revealed about Himself, or things He promises or warns, I don't have to worry about them ever changing. That feels pretty good. But when it comes to my understanding of Him, or this world He has made, then I'm open to learning new things, as long as His Word is guiding me.

Any thoughts on what you consider certain in this world? You can click here and speak your mind.

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