Too Much and Too Little
Do not claim to be wiser than you are. – Romans 12:16b
“I always have the feeling I’ve said more than I intended to and less than they wanted me to. Too much and too little,” I tell my co-pastor.
I’ve just finished meeting with a congregant who has theological questions. On one hand, this is my favorite kind of appointment. A chance to dig in deep to the things that really matter.
And on the other, it’s so hard!
When people come to their pastors asking important questions like, “What does it mean to pray?” Or, “Where do we go when we die?” Or, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” They want answers.
And I have very few to give.
I have some knowledge of scripture, woefully incomplete. Some church history, even less so. And my own limited experience. None of this adds up to an answer. Or rather it adds up to lots of answers. The many ways others have understood these complex questions. And the one peculiar way I do.
Too much and too little.
And I feel the anxiety in the person across from me. Who would like something simpler and more concrete. I feel it, because I know it. That anxiety. That desire to know more than I do.
And it is a great teacher.
I don’t mean to sound wiser than I am. I never think about this in the moment.
But in hindsight, a sense of confusion and a longing to understand are the best tools I could offer for the spiritual journey. And the only ones I have to give.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so you are to me, Mysterious One.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.