“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
It's funny how, when it comes to wisdom, that I live with the notion that the older I get, the more I will somehow have--mostly because I will know a lot more stuff by then. Who would image that the opposite is actually true? That I will not grow in wisdom because of what I know; I will actually grow in wisdom because of the realization of all I don't know. I've actually thought about this a lot recently because it seems that the older I get, the more fragile I feel. I was actually telling some friends about this the other day; and it is not something that feels like a bad thing, but something that feels like the best of things.
I love the dictionary definition of the word fragile: vulnerably delicate. I feel much more vulnerable, and weak, and unsure these days--much more at 53 than I did at 23, or 33, or even 43. And this fragile, vulnerable, unsure place within me is actually doing an incredibly good work. It is opening me up, in such a wonderfully beautiful way, for God to enter in. Because it's not that I'm unsure about God and his character, that's not at all the kind of vulnerability I'm talking about. That kind of unsure would be frightening. But the type of unsure I'm talking about is being unsure about what I really know about Him (or myself for that matter); really know in the Genesis 4:1 Adam knew Eve and they conceived a son sense. It is a deep and intimate type of knowing. And as I become more and more aware of what I do not really know in that way, it opens me up to God's Spirit and God's voice and God's presence in ways that I was simply not open before.
For example, I know that God loves me, but if I am really honest, I don't really know that at all; not compared to the level to which it is really true. He is simply too big, His love too immense and too extravagant for me to truly know it. I can say that I know God loves me, but in reality I have no idea what that really means or how much it is really true. I am only just beginning to scratch the surface of it all; only starting to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:18).
It seems like the biggest obstacle to really knowing something is what we think we already know. When I think I know, I have stopped the conversation, I have stopped seeking, stopped pressing in to all that I don't know. I have arrived; gone as far as I plan to go. My knowing has, in essence, closed the door on really knowing. So often in conversations, or in listening to someone speak, or in reading a book, or even in reading the Scriptures, that voice (which is not the voice of the Spirit) pops up in me saying, "Oh yeah, I already know that." And in an instant I have closed myself off to the possibility of really knowing--knowing more deeply--because of what I think I already know.
I guess the moral of the story is that knowing is a lifetime endeavor, a journey that is never completed this side of heaven. It is a deep well that we can never find the bottom of...and I am so glad! I just hope that the next time I feel fragile (or vulnerably delicate) I will embrace it for the good soil of the Spirit that it is. And when I'm tempted to close the door by thinking I've already got that one down, I will catch myself and realize that I have just missed an opportunity to grow in wisdom. And that I will turn and open the door to the Great Mystery in my unknowing.