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More to Learn

Written by Olivia Finley

Lately, God has been teaching (read: humbling) me about how much there is to learn about Him. This is simultaneously a mundane and exciting lifelong lesson. There is more to know and understand and love about God than we have the capacity to grasp in a lifetime. But so often, I’m content with the head knowledge of a handful of major storylines. Recently on a trip to Nashville, I heard a sermon on Daniel 6, the story of the writing on the wall. If this doesn’t ring a bell, you’re in my company, at least. The stories I recall from Daniel include a rescue from a den of lions and men not being burned in a furnace. These are the stories that I’ve heard in the church from childhood from which I could glean some aspect of God’s character. Be faithful, and God is a rescuer. Is that all there is to know from Daniel? I realized that I know very little about Daniel, and even less about what God wants to show us through Daniel’s life. It sparked recognition of an underlying theme that God has been making me aware of: when I don’t seek Him or His word to know Him, I start to create my own narratives, or fill in character traits for God. It becomes easier to believe that He sees me a certain way or wants this or that for someone’s life when my thoughts are based more on recent earthly experiences than on recent encounters with Christ.

This message was driven home in a personal way through a conversation with a friend of mine who has a job that she doesn’t have a lot of passion for. It’s not terrible, just not where she wants to be for very long. She spoke recently about how strange she feels every time she meets someone, and they ask her what she does, and she has to tell them her current job, but her instinct is to clarify that it is not her true passion. She is fearful that her current career will define her to that stranger, without any other information about her character. This struck a chord with me, as an economics student often hesitant to be lumped into the category of “people who think about money.” It’s a natural response to associate certain careers, but I think it’s also a disservice to individuals. Each person has so much that makes them unique and wonderful, and while it is not possible to know everyone we meet at such depth, we honor them by acknowledging that there is more to learn.

This is so much truer about God. More faceted, yet at the same time more consistent. Mysteries aplenty, but a God who wants to be known by us. I decided to read the remainder of the book of Daniel, hoping to learn something new or read a story I hadn’t heard before. It was often weird, and I don’t know that I understand God any better after reading a series of Daniel’s visions that are pretty far out there. In fact, I definitely don’t understand the way in which any prophets received information. But a lack of understanding doesn’t change the characteristics that I see to be true: God’s faithfulness, patience, and mercy, which were evident in Daniel’s reception of his visions and as Gabriel came to respond to Daniel (spoiler). Isn’t that the beauty of scripture? God has taught me to seek and find Him in His word, a lesson that I am learning again and again, and yet can still surprise me. I went looking for hard facts to add to my portfolio of knowledge, but instead came away with a greater appreciation for the character of the God I serve.

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