Well, a friend of ours, who has a great southern sense of humor (and a penchant for rules) commented on the photo. He said that Brian’s foot was on the line, and technically, Brian would have been disqualified. What!?!?!?
Knowing my man as well as I think I do; that he, like our friend, is a stickler for rules, and he is highly competitive (he was, after all the only Grandpa in the race), I knew he would have watched very carefully to win legitimately.
However, there appeared to be a gap between what I saw, what I thought happened, and what our friend pointed out. I knew Brian would not cheat to win, nor would he accept an ill-gotten first place finish, so I filled in the gap with an assumption: there must be an optical illusion. It only looked like his foot was over the line.
Our friend replied, “Nice attempt at defending your man, but the line shot shows his foot on the line!” Yep. There it is. You can see it.
Ok, now I have dilemma: I know Brian’s character. I know Brian had seen the photos. I also know he kept the accolade. He wouldn’t keep it if he hadn’t earned it.How do I handle this? What if his words, his actions and his character don’t align in this incident?
See, that’s the problem with us humans, we don’t want to be wrong. I don’t want to be wrong; and I especially don’t want to be wrong about Brian.
We’re the same way about our thinking when it comes to things about God, we don’t want to be wrong. Therefore, when we cannot reconcile what we know to be true about God’s character, His Words, and what we perceive to be his actions, we tend to fill in the gap with our assumptions.
When we attempt to defend God with our assumptions (he is good, therefore he’d never do that — whatever that is) we must be very careful that we don’t transform the One True God into a false god that fits our limited ability to understand God.
For example, if we believe that God is loving, good, kind, compassionate, gracious, and merciful all of the time — and he is — then we may have a hard time reconciling difficult doctrines that seem at first glance to paint God differently. When that gap presents itself and we fill it in with something we can embrace, we are in error.
Our problem is that we don’t understand all of the ways God perfectly executes his attributes. We see things from an earthly, self-originating perspective. God sees things perfectly and always acts perfectly in alignment with his Word and his character.
Gap filling can be very dangerous because we fill the gap with our own finite understanding and God cautions us against that because God’s ways are higher than our ways, and his thinking exceeds ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). His wisdom is limitless.
Why do we feel the need to defend God and fill in the gaps in our understanding with assumptions? I think it is because we can’t bear the idea of anyone seeing God differently than we do. However, as much as we think we know about God, there is much more that we will never know this side of glory.
The Bible will always challenge us, stretch our thinking, and push us to ask hard questions: Questions that only God can answer, and sometimes he chooses not to. There are secrets God will not reveal to us, nevertheless, we are responsible to know the things he has revealed (Deuteronomy 29:29).
I’m finding that as I study the things of God, I rely heavily on theologians: People who have forgotten more than I will ever be able to learn. But more than that I must go back to the source: the Words of God, the Bible. And I have to read it in many translations. And I have to pray over it. A lot. As I pray, I believe that the Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible will also help me to understand it as I ask him to.
So, in the case of the relay, I went to the source: to Brian. I asked him what happened. The answer was quite simple, there were more runners than lanes, so they told him to run on the line. And I didn’t have to take Brian’s word for it, though that would have been sufficient, my daughter-in-law had a video. My dilemma existed only in my pride, I didn’t want to be wrong about the race or about Brian.
Amazingly, God does the same thing: when something is important to him, he repeats it more than once in the Bible. And also, amazingly, when we are willing to humbly accept what God says as truth, we don’t have to worry about the pride dilemma, and we don’t have to defend God, he does a good job of that on his own.
What gaps about God have you attempted to fill in with assumptions? Isn’t it worth the time and energy it might take to search his Word, ask him your questions, pray, and study until the Holy Spirit leads you into truth (John 14:17)?
What gaps have you created because your limited understanding can’t reconcile God’s words, actions and character with who you want God to be? Could it be that the inconsistency doesn’t originate with God (Hebrews 13:8), but with you?
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