For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest…. (Mark 4:22)
The more I come to know about God and this world and the people in it, the less I know. I know a great deal more than when I began this spiritual journey but, like looking at the stars, I keep seeing how very much more there is out there, and even inside me, that I haven’t seen before. The more I see, the more there is to see. I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface in understanding things in this life.
Mark has Jesus telling his disciples that nothing is hidden forever, that God and his purpose for the world, is being revealed. I hear that. But my experience is that everything is very much hidden. What makes me tick? Still that remains a mystery to me. What are others thinking and feeling? Still so very many surprises present themselves as I get to know people better. Where is God and how does God work? Total mystery. God is beyond and totally incomprehensible, yet right here with me in the very simplest of ways.
After Jesus tells his disciples that everything hidden is being revealed, he continues his teaching with a couple of parables about seeds. Seeds are planted and they grow rather mysteriously. What they grow into can’t be determined by the seed itself. The growth is surprising. What grows becomes something which serves a purpose in the overall scheme of things. And then there is some sort of harvest where that which the seed becomes is gathered up for yet another mysterious purpose.
It would appear (though maybe we don’t even know much about seeds) that seeds are rather unwitting participants while you and I are gifted with awareness and reflection. We can remember things that have gone before in our own lives. We can study things that happened long ago, or at least we can study how those things are recorded in history. We can look ahead and project into the future. We can obtain a certain amount of mastery in this life. But all our gifts in that regard eventually bring us back basically to where the unwitting seed is: we really don’t know how or why much of anything is happening. We aren’t quite like we were yesterday. We have a sense that tomorrow could well be very different still. And here we are today, not even really knowing what is within our control or what is beyond our control. The more we know, the less we know.
So where does that leave you? Frustrated? Empty? Small and insignificant? Helpless? All those difficult feelings and more result from our gift of awareness and reflection. When Jesus promises that all these hidden things are being revealed, maybe he means more than us going to heaven one day and getting all the information about how and why things occur. My desire to know more and more perhaps will be fulfilled but maybe the bigger learning is that I simply can’t know it all. If I could know it all, I somehow become bigger than what I know. Having so much hidden from me is a constant reminder than there is something out there bigger than me. And maybe you’ve noticed that that is precisely where faith really begins, when I admit something is bigger than me.
What develops from that realization is not understanding and knowledge so much as it is appreciation. Things are hidden from us all the time. The more we ponder that mystery, the more our appreciation of life grows. We are here for a season, we get a sense that there are more seasons to come. When we die, the seasons don’t stop. As things continue to be hidden from us, one clear thing is eventually revealed: we are powerless in many ways, yet there is a power we can accept and live into.
If we approach life merely as a journey to figure out how things tick, all we are doing is seeking some sense of control amidst the vastness of unknowing. But, if we approach life, appreciating all that which is beyond our ability to understand, wisdom and peace are revealed to us. So what is revealed over time to us isn’t so much about how things work but that a graceful and generous force holds all of eternity together. What is revealed to us is the path of faith and trust.
Nothing is hidden except to be made manifest. The very peace of Christ is being revealed. That which we cannot understand leads us closer to God.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.