by Rob Tims
While on vacation awhile ago, my oldest son rubbed 1 or 2 blisters on a foot. He was, after all, walking some 20,000 steps a day at the happiest place on earth, so it didn’t really come as a surprise. In fact, the blisters kind of became a point of pride for him. Not only did they symbolize just how much walking he had done (and therefore how much fun he had), but they also provided a small opportunity for him to realize (and sometimes share) that he was tough enough to tolerate it. Why, by day 4 or 5, he didn’t even remember they had a been a nuisance. He was as comfortable with them as he had been without them.
I have found this same principle to be at work when it comes to growing to know God through the Bible, particularly if one begins with the Old Testament. While I am more comfortable with the awesome, creative work revealed in Genesis (to say nothing of His relentless pursuit of sinful people like Jacob), it doesn’t take long for me to rub a “theological blister” when God makes a concerted effort to display His might at the expense of an entire nation (I am speaking of the plagues in Exodus 7 and following). It’s an incredibly uncomfortable thing to read what God is capable of. It’s quite disconcerting to not be able to fit God into a perfectly organized theological construct. Theologian Peter Enns says it well with regard to the Exodus story: “Who is this God who chooses a people for Himself, through no merit of their own, and then determines to mold them into His own image despite their repeated shortcomings and rebellions? A proper reaction to reading this story is simply to sit back and shake our heads in disbelief. God is beyond our understanding.”
Yet here I am, with more than 20 years of familiarity with these stories and nearly as long seeking after this God, and the fact that I have these “blisters” has not deterred me from walking with Him. In fact, you might say I rather enjoy them, as they are a constant reminder that while I may know much about Him, there is much more that I do not know and could not possibly fathom. I am, in effect, comfortable with my discomfort with God.
Take just a moment and consider what “theological blisters” you have from seeking to know the God of the Bible. Or start rubbing some new ones. It’s an uncomfortable thing you’ll soon get comfortable doing.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.