Sometimes thoughts pop into my head that seem downright wonderful. I want to write them out. Process them. Turn them into something tangible. But when I try to do so, they fall apart. They don’t seem to materialize quite like I want or even expect them to. A thought that feels so complete one instant seems to be missing something – maybe a lot of somethings – in the next.
That feeling can be incredibly frustrating. When it happens, I am tempted to just toss the whole idea and never touch it again. It is incomplete after all. What more can I do with it?
A family discussion earlier this week made me rethink that response.
Our church is reading through the Bible jointly this year, and all three of our children are participating. Every morning, we read a portion. Then we discuss it, either at breakfast or at lunch.
One morning, I cringed as I read a passage in Genesis. We’re really encouraging our children to read this? I thought to myself. Almost as if reading my thoughts, my husband chuckled and commented on the nature of some of our Scripture readings.
At lunch that day, we asked the children if they had any questions. A few things were tossed out, but nothing major. So my husband looked at our young son and asked if he had any questions. He shook his head.
“You understood everything?” Doug asked with a grin.
“Yes,” our son replied.
“Did you know,” I chimed in, “that I first read that passage when I was about nine or ten? And I’ve read it many times since then. But even I learned something new from it today!”
But still, he was convinced he understood it all. Doug and I knew better. But, we just reminded the children to be intentionally looking for questions or points of interest to share. Then we moved on.
The whole incident made me stop and think about my own growth in understanding. I clearly remember the first time I read the stories of Genesis for myself. I was running a fever that day. And I was bored. I didn’t feel well enough to get up and play in my room, but I also wasn’t sleepy. When I complained to Mom, she handed me a Bible. Before I knew it, I’d spent the afternoon mesmerized by the non-storybook version of familiar stories I’d known for as long as I could remember.
And now, just shy of thirty years later, I am still learning new things from those same passages.
Here on earth, I will always wrestle with incomplete thoughts and incomplete understanding. My thoughts and words will never be able to capture the full depth of the spiritual truths that rumble through my mind on a daily basis. Just as I know there is much more for my son to understand as he reads the Bible, so I also know that there is much more for me to understand. An incomplete thought is a necessary start and cannot be discarded.
In the meantime, I must say that I am thankful for my son’s lack of understanding in some areas. I’m thankful that God’s Word, no matter how explicit some parts may be, is perfectly safe for my children because it is the living, breathing Word of God. He illuminates it as they need it.
And He will illuminate my understanding in just the same way.