“The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Over the past few weeks, I have lost 2 things: my engagement ring and my grandfather.
With the help of some frustrating conversations with the Royal Thai Police and a very nice insurance agent back in the states, my engagement ring will be replaced, and when I called my fiance freaking out and crying a couple weeks ago, he was amazing and comforting and reassured me that a thing is just a thing and proved himself (once again) to be serious husband material.
My grandfather passed away on May 11th, he was 90 years old.
When I first lost the ring, I thought God was reminding me not to hold on to things too tightly, giving me a chance to demonstrate that even my most treasured thing is only a thing and I cannot put stock in it, I can let it have a piece of my heart, because it could be taken
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20)
I felt like God was reminding me to hold on loosely to things of this earth.
And then I got a message from my mom. It was late at night, I had just come back from a long haul out to a co-workers village for his wedding. I was distracted, exhausted, and glanced at my phone, half-asleep, and saw her message, that he was dying. And my thoughts did not spin. I wasn’t overwhelmed with memories of him. My brain was still. Not frozen in shock, just still. Overburdened and full and without any space and emotional energy left for that day. So I clicked my phone locked, plugged it into its charger and went to bed. I’ll confess I can have a Scarlett O’Hara approach to intractable problems, i.e. “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”
I called my parents the next day, and we decided I wouldn’t be coming home for the funeral. The day after that, I took a bus to the Burmese border and back to get my visa re-stamped. It was 4.5 hours each way, giving me an unusual amount of one-on-one time with God. I thought of the good memories of my grandfather, I thought of the awkward and strained ones. I wrote a short good-bye. I sent it to my mother, and he passed away that night.
I looked up at the sky and wondered. Still trying to teach me to not hold on too tightly, Big Man? And the sky did not answer. And I thought of Dr. Tyson – “the universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.”
God is under no obligation to make sense to you.
I realized I had been looking at everything that had happened and trying to draw lines and connections and figure out God’s grand plan for me at every step. As though the universe revolved around my personal spiritual development. It doesn’t. It revolves around God. And while He is great, and will work for the good of those who love Him, and will arrange the stars for the salvation of each of us who He loves so deeply, He is under no obligation to.
We should reflect and evaluate our lives and see the way God has worked in us and further glorify Him because of it. But maybe I have been trying too hard to force meaning and pithy lessons when all God calls us to is to glorify Him, even when He doesn’t make sense to us. Just because the universe doesn’t make sense to you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense.
I found myself re-learning the very first lesson I wrote about learning in this blog – that its not about you. God is good. And He is faithful. And He is great. And like Bonhoeffer wrote in his Christmas letter to his seminarians in 1939,
What a mistake to think that it is the task of theology to unravel God’s mystery, to bring it down to the flat, ordinary human wisdom of experience and reason! It is the task of theology solely to preserve God’s wonder as wonder, to understand, to defend, to glorify God’s mystery as mystery.
It is not up to us to piece together the meaning and value in our lives. Our lives have meaning and value because we are beloved children of God, we don’t have to prove that we were worth His sacrifice by (in my case) demonstrating the new lessons we’ve learned every couple weeks in a blog post.
God is good, and He asks us to have faith, to remain in Him, even when we cannot always understand.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
Thank you for your continued prayers and support, I am lucky to walk alongside all of you.