The More You Learn, The Less You Know

I was reading something that Christian mystic, monk, author, poet and theologian Thomas Merton wrote, and it was too good to keep to myself.  He said: 

"I do not know if I have found the answers.  When I first became a monk, yes, I was more sure of "answers."  But as I grow old in the monastic life and advance further into solitude, I become aware that I have only begun to seek the questions."  

Sometimes I start to believe I have things figured out.  I'm nearing the half century mark in terms of my age, for starters.  But then again, simply living a number of years doesn't make you wise.  So, I could fall back on all of the degrees I've managed to amass over the years.  But all of my study essentially brought me to the realization that (in the words of Bono), "the more you learn, the less you know."  

The Apostle Paul put things into perspective when he wrote in his letter to the Corinthian church: "For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." (1 Cor 1:25)

In other words, you might think you know a few things, but compared to God you know absolute diddly.  Which means that your questions are much more important than your limited knowledge.  

What I've started to realize is exactly what Merton was talking about.  For most of my life I have been struggling to find answers, when what I needed to be doing was focusing more on asking better questions.  

Instead of asking, "What is my purpose?" for example, what I should be asking is, "How does my purpose fit within God's greater purposes?"  Or instead of asking, "What does God want me to do?" I should be asking, "Where can I join God in doing what God is already doing?"  

Instead of pursuing my own dreams and aspirations, I should be asking where my dreams and aspirations actually intersect with the world's greatest needs and, more specifically, where God is at work to meet those greatest needs.

May you discover the better questions that you should be asking each and every day in order to more fully embrace the full and meaningful life that God means for you to lead.  May you seek to become less so that God can be increased by your example.  May you find what you are looking for by seeking what God wants for you first.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.  Amen.   


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