I like to think I know a lot about baseball. I've been an avid fan my entire life. I've played it and coached it. I won my fantasy league this year. I've watched untold amounts of it in person and on TV. My kids get annoyed with me when we watch a game together because I will boldly tell them what's going to happen next. I'm often right.
There were 10 teams in the Major League playoffs this year. Of those 10, there were a few I thought were the favorites. There was only one whom I thought had zero chance of winning it all--the Kansas City Royals.
The World Series starts tomorrow in Kansas City.
I don't know squat.
It isn't just sports, either. There are other areas of life I like to think I know something about. I've been to seminary. I have a degree in communications. I do a lot of public speaking. I've read a lot of books. I've raised three sons. I've been married to the same woman for 26 years. I've never been in a car accident that was my fault. I've watched every episode of The Walking Dead.
I'd like to think I know something about these things. Perhaps I'd even dare to say I was an expert in some of them. That would give me the right to tell you all the great things I know.
I don't know squat.
I've been thinking about this lately because I've been reading the Bible. The Bible takes us into a world beyond ourselves, where we meet God and his character. The Bible has a way of putting us in our place. I've been reading the Sermon on the Mount and the Psalms.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is the teacher. He teaches us about everyday life--relationships, anger management, money, prayer, religious activity. He says to forgive freely, give generously, pray discreetly, and serve humbly. In a nutshell, says Jesus, life is humility through and through because we are not God.
In Psalm 89, we meet God in his home:
The heavens praise your wonders, Lord,
your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?
Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?
The question is rhetorical, of course. No one compares to the Lord. He set the distance between the earth and the sun, between the sun and Betelguese, between the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies, between the center of our planet and the farthest reaches of the universe. He formed the black holes and red giants, the quasars and pulsars. He staked down the core of the earth and set us in motion. He made jellyfish and the elephant. He crafted your pinky finger and the brain which allows you to read this and comprehend it. He exists before and after all things.
"Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." (John 1:3)
I like to think of these things whenever I'm tempted to think I'm somebody who knows a lot. I am reminded how small I am, how briefly I'll be here, and how little I actually know.
I have some bad news for you, my friend. You don't know much either. You might have experience, education, skill, research--even superior intelligence. You might be the best read person you know. You might know seven languages. You might think you have the answers to the Ebola crisis, the Isis threat, immigration reform, and global warming. You might have advice for marriage, money, child-rearing, and the best way to cook a chicken. You might have graduated from Harvard and Yale on the same day. Heck, you might even be able to convince me that you've figured out the answer to the debate between predestination and free will. Yes, you might be really smart, and have a track record of knowledge and accomplishments so deep that they are carved into that stone bust of yourself that sits on your impressive mantle of success. You might really be something.
Have you ever been here?
No, I didn't think so. I haven't either.
We don't know squat, you and I. Pondering God brings humility, and humility brings us closer to him. I think I got that right.
Good luck to the Kansas City Royals tomorrow night.