I grew up deep in a place that taught the earth is very, very young, that the rapture happens first because God wouldn’t pour judgment out on his flock and it most definitely will happen in this lifetime, and that grace covers all sins but divorce, abortion and drinking.
We were taught to have an Answer at all times for anyone. And having that Answer meant knowing where you stood on every theological nuance every proposed in the church history.
And now, like so many of us, I don’t have a clue about most of it.
My eleven-year-old, asked me a question not too long ago as we were driving to school. She was trying to reconcile dinosaurs, creation and the millions or billions of years of strata and fossils under the earth.
“How old is the earth? For real, mom?”
An easy answer would have been one from my childhood. The one I was shown in diagrams in Sunday School. Young. Very young.
Another easy answer would have been billions and billions of years old because God is just that big and we are just that special. That would have also been easy for a mind like hers who likes to think so big.
“And did it take God a regular seven days to create the earth?”
So I said what any good parent would say.
“I don’t know.”
I know youthful concrete minds need concrete answers but mothers’ minds who still bump up against big things and are not sure need the grace to say “I don’t know” sometimes. And that has to be okay for us.
Even mothers need to reconcile the dinosaurs sometimes.
“I really don’t know. Some people say yes, a regular week. Some other people say it took a lot longer. All of them have done a lot of research and are smart people so to be honest, honey, I’m not sure. What do you think?”
“I don’t know either,” she said.
I looked over at her. “Are you okay with that? Do you feel like you need to know?”
“I’m fine,” she said, smiled at me and went back to reading her book.
I turned the car into the elementary school parking lot and kissed her goodbye.
If I’m honest, I have trouble making a big deal out of things that don’t affect the work of the Kingdom today. If I’m honest, and I try to always be, I have trouble seeing how things like billions versus thousands affect my relationship with Jesus and how arguments about things like that should change anything about my desire to see grace and love abound in the world.
It’s okay not to know. It’s okay to say “I don’t know” and to live in that tension of there-could-be-things-beyond-my-understanding.
Maybe questions like that were made to be wrestled with, that if the world were easy to grasp then we wouldn’t need a Savior. And maybe those are things we will struggle through together, mother and daughter, and that if we disagree someday, we will let love and the Kingdom win.