I Don't Know. But I Do Know.

A couple weeks ago Justin taught a Bible class about Abraham sacrificing Isaac. As the class talked through our understanding of faith—what it looks like, when it’s called for—Justin wrote these words in black marker on the whiteboard:

I don’t know. But I do know.

And immediately that became my favorite definition of faith. 

Because so many times I’ve experienced this tension of not-knowing and knowing, both…

When I decided to follow Christ not knowing where that would take me or what it might cost, but knowing He loved me and knowing I loved Him.

When my brother died and I had a hundred unanswered, grief-soaked questions and full trust in God’s ability to answer them. 

When my husband asked me to marry him and I knew he was exactly the man I wanted to be with forever and had no idea what forever would look like. 

When we moved to Brooklyn to do God’s work, work I know I was called to do, and then the funding ran out a day after the positive pregnancy test and I sat on a bench and prayed by skyline light, “I know you have something up Your sleeve. I just wish I could see what it is.”

When I held my daughter for the first time and thought, “I am going to be a great mom” and wondered “Am I going to be a terrible mom?” at the very same moment.

I like this definition of faith because it acknowledges that faith happens in the fog. Faith is not sight, and faith is not blindness. It’s the weird way we see when we live in the liminal, one eye on the seen, one on the unseen.

We see more but we know there’s so much more to see.

I’m thinking about faith tonight because once again I’m swimming in brackish waters, wondering, wandering and waiting. Faith is hard, tiring. My eyes ache from the constant squinting. 

In Hebrews I read about past men and women of faith, about Abraham who sacrificed his son and about Rahab who hid God’s spies. I read their stories and feel a kinship. The text says, “They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance…” 

On Easter my kids and I sit in the back yard in the dark waiting for dawn. They crane their necks and stand on tiptoe, fidgety and sometimes whiney. Sometimes, when the morning is cold, they campaign to go back inside. But I convince them to hold out, and when the first shades of blue and pink light the dark, they jump up and down and cheer.

That’s what I think of when I think about faith and welcoming the promises “from a distance.”

The trusting can be tiring, all that wading through the thick uncertain, but we wait anyway and when the unseen appears, even barely, tracing the horizon in light, we welcome it, smiles broad and knowing.