It occurred to me recently that the answer to almost every question in my life right now is: “I don’t know.” With Woody’s recent retirement, we have made plans to move “back home” to New England. We are in the process of purchasing a condo under construction in the Boston area.
But from there on it’s all questions. When will we move? I don’t know. It depends on selling our current home. When will the house sell? I don’t know. What will it be like to move “back home”? Is it even possible to do that? Or was novelist Thomas Wolfe right when he famously proclaimed “You Can’t Go Home Again”? I don’t know. What about that biopsy you’ve been putting off? When will you get that done? I don’t know. It depends on getting a major insurance mess straightened out. How long will that take? I don’t know. And what about the results…? Well, you’re getting the picture.
I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one living in I-don’t-know-ville. Tons of people I know and love are living there, too. Will the never-ending international adoption saga never end? When will we meet these children? WILL we ever meet these children? When will my prodigal come home? WILL he/she come home? Will this court case ever get resolved and justice—and mercy—prevail? Will the doctors ever figure out what’s wrong? Will the money last till the end of the month? To name just a few questions in my prayers for those I love.
It seems to be an Advent season of I-don’t–know. Which brings to mind the fact that there were a lot of I-don’t-know people at that first Christmas. Joseph and Mary must have had plenty of unanswered questions on that road to Bethlehem. And when they had to flee to Egypt. And a thousand other times in the parenting of Jesus. What was God up to in allowing life for His son to look like this? And the shepherds and the wisemen: What does this amazing birth mean? And Simeon and Anna in the years they waited to meet Him: “How long, O Lord, how long?”
But they did know one thing, and it’s the central truth of Christmas: God is now with us! “And they will call Him Immanuel—which means, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like living in I-don’t-know-ville. It makes me nervous. I am, after all, half-German, firstborn, and off the charts on the Myers Briggs J-scale. I like answers better than questions. But maybe there’s something to be learned here from those first Christmas people. And more importantly, from the God who invaded their world.
Amidst all the unanswered questions of our lives, there is one Big Answer. What we don’t know, He does. What we can’t control, He can. Wherever our future takes us, He is there already. It’s something BIG to celebrate in Advent. A cause for great joy—yes, Joy! Even in this Advent season of I-don’t-know.