Saying I know him is like saying I know the sky. I can read about him, like I can look up. But I don’t understand him any more than I understand what I see when I see a distant, blue curtain. I know about him, just like I know about the stars and the planets and the clouds, but there is so much more, and I can never learn as much as I think I should learn.
There’s this thought, in my head, kind of all the time, that I need to get to know him, that sometime (sometime more convenient, when I’m not busy) I should apply myself, with prayer and fasting, or maybe even just focused thought, or a pilgrimage, or something, to get to know Jesus really well and then I would have earned a close knowledge of Jesus. Like knowing him is a prize for best behavior.
Maybe no one can really know Jesus, he’s too big for a person to get their head around, like the sky. He seems bigger on the inside than the outside, like the garden in The Last Battle. On the surface it’s all there, but when I try to see past it, to understand him as a person the way I get inside the heads of characters in stories, or the way I analyze other people, figure out their motivations, their values, something goes wrong. My mind feels like the parts are floating apart. I don’t know who he is. Something superhuman, something trans-human. Incomprehensible.
But I want to know him like I know my friends. I want to know what he wants, what he’s going to do next, what he likes. Like my husband, my sister, my buddies. I want to walk around with him, talk to him, hear his voice in my ears, as sure and certain as I smell smoke or taste water or touch the ground.
Then, I think of showing him what I’m working on or telling him what I think and suddenly I decide I don’t want that after all. That sounds too close and too personal. Too invasive. I want, after all, to run my own life. I have always wanted that. Even more than running my own life, I want to run my own thoughts. I want to decide, what I believe, what I think, what I am going to do or not do about it. Is that wrong? Am I capable of not wanting that? Maybe it’s a problem, maybe that’s why I don’t deserve to know Jesus.
I see other people that seem like they know Jesus. Maybe they do know him better than I do. Maybe they just pretend they do. Do they really understand him? Maybe they’ve done the prayer and fasting thing and earned their brownie points, earned a voice in their head or an angel on their shoulder, a direct communication line with Heaven that I think I want. I say I think I want it, because even in my best thoughts there is a part of me being distant and self-aware, or thinking about how this, this particular feeling or thought of piety, is surely making me more worthy of knowing Jesus. Even now, I am aware of how I sound, how I am going to look, what people are going to think. (That I’m crazy? That I’m being transparent, or honest? That I’m obviously not a Christian? Because real Christians know Jesus? Or that I’m not putting the effort into my faith that I should?)
Maybe that’s why I don’t deserve to know Jesus. I shouldn’t give a damn what they think. (Maybe it’s the swearing. Why I don’t deserve to know Jesus.)
But it’s so true, I don’t deserve to know Jesus at all. I’m a self-satisfied beast. I like to think of myself as very intellectual and superior, because I ask a lot of questions. But as I go about questioning everything, sometimes I’m not sure whether I doubt because I love truth, or I doubt because I love to doubt.
I don’t even know myself, and I certainly don’t know Jesus. Nor do I deserve to.
Yet he knows me.
There’s no good reason to know that, no explanation of it (which I hate), it’s a mysterious, intangible thing that isn’t even corporeal enough to be called a feeling but I know that despite my own pathetic, narcissistic, selfish soul, God has loved me enough to know me. And I? I haven’t put in any particular effort to know him back. Nothing very difficult, anyway. Nothing like what he went through to know me. I see myself and I see nothing worth knowing, and even thinking that, I have a smug feeling, because I’ve heard that one should see one’s self as worthless. What in me did God find that was worth giving everything for? God must know of something beautiful that I don’t. He finds me worthy of love. For isn’t that true love? Caring about someone enough to get to know them intimately?
This God, this God I do not know, that I do not love back, not nearly as much as I should, still loves me, still knows me. I can question his existence or his goodness, I can walk away, I can run to his arms, I can sin or I can live my entire life in righteousness, and none of that will make him love me more or less.
Let me learn to love him back. To trust him. To let him know me until one day I can know him, whether that is terrifying or comforting, whether that means I lose my self or find it, whether it means people see me as stupid or smart. Whether they think I am devout or irreligious. Right or wrong.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24