“What does a cannibal call a phone book?” I asked my translator in Cambodia & he gave me a quizzical look. “I understand phone book, but what is a cannibal?” I quickly explained & followed with the punch line. “A menu!” I was hopeful that he would understand my all time favorite joke. There was a pause & then I could see that he understood, but instead of a fun grin, he looked at me with deep concern, like there was something severely wrong with me to think that such a thing would be even remotely funny.
Rule #1 with using a translator: no jokes because they don’t translate.
But here’s another interesting thing to consider, much of what is said to us gets processed through our mental filters. Whether we realize it or not, our thoughts tell us what we hear rather than us fully understanding what is actually said. For example, if you struggle with insecurity then many compliments you receive can often be ignored or dismissed because of that insecurity filter.
All of this is to say that we should take a step back & ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us what filters may exist in our thinking that could be obscuring what we hear 🙂
Sometimes I think that we mistakenly wait to do something until we understand it better. There can be good wisdom with understanding stuff, but if we aren’t careful, our efforts to understand can undermine our obedience to God. For example, in Genesis 12 God told Abram to go to a land that God would show him & Abram set out. I’m not entirely sure that Abram knew the destination that God had in mind, but he was obedient to get moving, nonetheless. We don’t always have to understand to obey 🙂
When I bought my first car, I didn’t understand the importance of changing my oil consistently which of course led to some big problems. I also didn’t understand (before doing this “experiment”) that it’s not possible to “toast” whipped cream under a broiler. There are LOTS of other examples of things that I haven’t & still don’t understand.
But here’s something to consider, it’s not necessary to understand everything to do what is right. Here are some examples:
I may not understand why a person is being stupid rude (maybe they had a rough day, or got some bad news, etc), but my lack of understanding doesn’t have to prevent me from being kind.
I may not understand why something bad has happened to me, but my lack of understanding doesn’t have to sabotage my trust or faith in God.
I may not understand why God has chosen a particular path for me, but my lack of understanding doesn’t give me the license or permission to be disrespectful of God’s choices for me
There are some things that we will never understand on this side of heaven & perhaps that is exactly the test that God has chosen for us – so let’s not base our behavior solely on our understanding 🙂
There was a time in my life when I wanted to be really smart & I wanted to be sure that I understood things well. If I didn’t understand something, either I would try harder to understand or I would dismiss what I was unable to grasp. The problem w this strategy is that it limited my experiences, particularly w God. Unfortunately, I’ve met many people who make the same decisions about their understanding w God – they limit their experiences w God because of their limited understanding.
Let’s make the commitment to God that our relationship w God will be based upon the Infinite & not our finite understanding – say yes to God!!