I’m sitting at the little desk in our sailboat as I write this. Inches away I see a systems panel covered in lights and switches. Their labels include, “Fore Deck Lt,” “Courtesy Lts,” “Sanx,” “Grey Water,” “Blower 2,” “Propane Valve,” “Reverse Polarity,” “Nav Inst,” and my favorite—”Collision Avoid.”
The mass of switches and red lights intimidated me when we first moved aboard the Makana 2 in 2018. I didn’t know which ones should be on or off while moored at the dock or when we headed to bed at night. I didn’t have a clue about which ones to use only under sail. To be honest, I was afraid of touching them lest I accidentally flick a switch that would result in disaster (ie: turn off the fridge or freezer).
While I understand more than I did four years ago, there’s still much I don’t understand about how this vessel’s systems operate. That’s not the switch panel’s problem. It’s mine. I have neither spent time studying the operator’s manual nor exploring the wires, fuses, and hoses hidden behind panels and doors. If I were to do that, my understanding and confidence would grow.
In some ways, my experience with the Makana 2 parallels my Christian faith.
I’ll admit, there’s much I don’t understand about theology, prayer, the Holy Spirit, or the end times. I don’t understand why God allows tragedies that bring unspeakable pain or why He doesn’t just step in and obliterate evil or why He doesn’t answer my prayers on other people’s behalf.
Not possessing a complete understanding of spiritual things shouldn’t surprise me. After all, God is infinitely bigger and smarter than me. His methods and His mind are a mystery. “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.’ For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
But here’s the thing: the more time I spend reading God’s Word, the more clarity I find. Digging into its depths helps me discover truths that build my confidence in its Author. Exploring Scriptures in context grows my understanding of His thoughts, and trust grows.
I know I would benefit by investing time and energy into learning about the Makana’s operating systems. I just need to do it. The same is true in for spiritual disciplines. We know we’d benefit by investing time and energy into studying God’s Word. We just need to do it.