A vacuum is a “space entirely void of matter”. It is, in essence, truly nothing. Human beings can’t stand vacuums. We have an existential problem with the existence of nothing. There has to be something. There can’t simply be nothing. We see this disdain for vacuums in the everyday reality of gossip. What is gossip? It is the injection of something where there was previously nothing. It is the rumor, the innuendo, the assumption that is presented as truth. We gossip, or make up truth, so that we don’t have to live in a vacuum regarding a certain subject, idea or action. If we don’t know why something happened or why someone did what they did or didn’t do, we are tempted to make up something. As opposed to simply living in the “I don’t know” vacuum of nothingness.
Somewhere we have all been taught that “I don’t know” is not an appropriate answer for anyone or any question. “I don’t know” reveals our weakness, our emptiness, our lack of total understanding and mastery of and over our world. “I don’t know” can and will open us up to exploitation and place us at the mercy of those who do know. “I don’t know” will cause us to lose something in some way. Yet, everyone also agrees that it is in this very same “I don’t know” that all knowledge, understanding, relevance and truth is found. Nobody can and will find answers if they don’t first acknowledge and embrace the “I don’t know”. It is only in the “I don’t know” that we will seek to know. No person looks for something that they aren’t desiring to find. Until you know that you don’t know, you will never seek to know anything.
In the “I don’t know” is precisely where we meet God. As humans we all have an aversion to God, because of the “I don’t know”. We can’t believe in God because there are too many “I don’t know” answers in faith. In fact, faith is the living of life, embracing the “I don’t know”. As Paul wrote in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”. While this is true of all people in all times, we are all still drawn to God. We can’t stop contemplating God, seeking God. We can’t stop trying to fill that vacuum in our life. We are all seeking to transform our “I don’t know” into “I believe”.
Every human being that has ever lived and will ever live wrestles with God and the “I don’t know”. Just look down through the centuries. One of the first things that humans did, when they came together and formed communities, was to create and practice religion. Why? Because every human being that has ever lived and will ever live knows that there is something more out there. But we don’t know what that more is. Every human being has created some form of religion in order to destroy the vacuum of “I don’t know”. Even someone who practices no religion whatsoever is not practicing, in order to destroy the vacuum of “I don’t know” in their lives.
We are drawn to the “I don’t know” of God because there is also something in us, the same thing that causes our disdain for vacuums, that seeks meaning, relevance and understanding. It is not enough for us to simply believe that there is a God. We all desire to know that we matter to God. In the midst of “I don’t know” it is essential for us to know that we matter. In fact, this mattering is the main reason why we avoid “I don’t know” like some kind of contagious virus. If we embrace the “I don’t know” it would mean, to ourselves and to others, that we don’t matter. Yet, it is this very acknowledgement of the “I don’t know” that opens the door to God and to the realization of how much you matter to God. Until you embrace that you don’t know, you will never be open to be known by God. To matter to someone is to be known by someone. If you are never known by God, because of your disdain for the “I don’t know”, you will never experience the truth that you matter to God. If you never experience the truth that you matter to God, you will never truly be able to overcome your disdain of the “I don’t know”. And on and on it goes in a viscous cycle that simply leads to a life separated from the very one who created life in the first place. I don’t know about you, but that is the only vacuum that I can’t stand.