I often get accused of overthinking and overanalyzing things. This is accurate on a myriad of levels. The error in people’s perceptions regarding my behavior lies not in my actions, however, but in my intentions. I do not choose to think so deeply about anything. It is a consequence of my personality to do so innately and ceaselessly. It’s taxing and often leads to mental paralysis. Were it to be my choice, I would simply accept the majority of what I am presented with and walk through life with much greater ease and confidence. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and I presume it never will be.
As a professed Christian I come under frequent attack for this in specific and relevant ways. I am accused often of trying to make the scriptures say what I want them to say or feel they should say. For those that have known me for some time, this is somewhat warranted. I spent a great deal of time reading and researching vast amounts of philosophy and psychology. On occasion, I would seek to implement concepts that validated my position or understanding of something. As well, I spent many years in narcissistic self-indulgent mentalities that caused me to find passages in the Bible that I used to excuse my behavior or thinking. This is no longer the case, yet I will spend a long time replacing that imagery in the minds of those who knew me during those years.
Quite often, a concept or notion randomly pops in my head and I become fixated on it. This doesn’t mean I believe it, or even that I want to believe it. There are many conclusions I have drawn that do not benefit me and that I am quite embarrassed to even admit. Yet when the pieces fit and are placed together, it’s hard not to see the picture. Let me be very clear. I do not go into any arena without constant prayer and soul searching. Our God, the God of the Bible, knows my heart. There is nothing I can hide from Him regarding intentions or otherwise. While I may believe I am aware of my motivations, He knows. I submit this to Him constantly, asking that if any pursuit I undertake is out of selfish or misguided reasons, I be quickly reigned in and redirected. I have a spirit for truth, and ask for guidance and chastening ceaselessly. The Bible is literal, and if there is no opportunity to understand a passage by reviewing the context or translation, I let it say to me exactly what it says.
One question that often comes up when I am considering something barely touched on in the Bible or not at all is, “Why does it matter?” To answer that simply, it may not. However, God allowed me, for better or worse, to have an endlessly curious and questioning mind. This doesn’t just apply to theology. I have always been obsessive over exhausting all known information about something that intrigues me, whether it is the writer of a cartoon I loved as a child, or the making of one of my favorite albums. There is and always will be opportunities to submit this insatiable knack for curiosity to God’s review and will, and I do. Nonetheless, it exists for a reason and is every bit a part of me as my eye color. The path is getting to a place where I am not fighting God on directing it where His will intends it. This has been a life long struggle for me, and at times I’ve waged all-out war on God over it. This has brought me to such great humility and tragedy at times that at this point in life, the only interest I have is in finding myself in complete submission and servitude to God’s will and for His glory. Through that glorification of God, others who have known the old me may take notice and find themselves embracing it too. This is a beautiful thing. Others finding rest through a visible and tangible testimony.
“He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in the darkness, and light dwells with him.” – Daniel 2:22
When we start talking about things like predestination, extra-biblical texts, the elect, the rapture and the tribulation, Christians get really worked up. That’s peculiar to me because the conversations almost inevitably end with an agreement that if we are living the way we are supposed to be, those things don’t ultimately matter regarding whose position is accurate anyway. This may not always be the case. There are atheists or lukewarm Christians whose faith seemingly hinges on one or more of these concepts. They may not need an exact answer. Sometimes just a plausible one will do. A favorite place to go in the Bible for those who like to attack Christianity is the perceived genocide the Israelites committed during their conquest of the promised land. How many Christians know that more than one book not included in the Bible, yet quoted by or referenced in the Bible, gives sufficient reasoning behind this? Once you understand what had happened and what was going on in select communities throughout that land, genetically, it becomes a very easy issue to address with someone. The beautiful thing in this case is that once you have that additional context, you begin to see exactly how it is echoed and eluded to in the Biblical account. It becomes very quick and easy to address.
There are things and concepts I want to believe, and sometimes find myself wondering how this or that verse may relate to it. I can assure you, though, that I have gotten so far off track in life doing that in the past I am hyper-aware of it and constantly suspicious of my own perceptions. That is why, like I said, I find myself in constant prayer and meditation over these things. We don’t have to know everything, but sometimes God decides He’s going to accomplish something by letting us know something. I’ve heard accounts of people coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through one of those extra-biblical books quoted in the Bible. That doesn’t mean everyone has to know about and be familiar with it or its content. It also means that it isn’t necessarily true that God doesn’t intend for someone else to be.