Appendix III: GET UNDERSTANDING
As a teenager, one time I was in a meeting and enjoying the message until the minister repeated the phrase, “You don’t have to understand, just believe.” I began to question why God would give us a mind that can reason and understand if He intended us to “just believe.” It did not make sense to me. When the phrase was repeated a third time, I became a bit irritated and decided then and there that I would not be satisfied with such an approach to God and His ways.
I committed myself to seek to “understand” all that God would reveal. I was already studying the Bible and becoming familiar with Scripture. A few years later as I picked up the Bible to read, I began the practice of asking, “Lord, show me what I have not yet seen.” My life continues to be an amazing journey of discovery.
God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there is any one who understands… (Psalms 53:2).
When someone says “I don’t see,” it is usually a request for more information. When we say “I don’t care,” we admit we really do not want to know. The old saying “ignorance is bliss” is often quoted as a beloved excuse for not wanting to know or understand.
Our ability to understand is limited when we fail to consider new thoughts and ideas that may stretch our current perceptions. If we do not consider the value of a new thought, it can fade away without ever influencing us.When we seek to consider and understand new insights, we can gradually begin to understand how they apply and fit into our lives.
Give me understanding, that I may observe thy law… Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live (Psalms 119:34, 144).
When we understand why something exists and how it is designed to function, we are able to utilize it more fully. How well do we understand what we are and how we are designed to function as a human being?
If our experience teaches us that an ill behavior is normal, we tend to believe it’s the right way to act even though it’s not. A lack of understanding can complicate our ability to do what is best. Jesus referenced a lack of understanding when he said, “Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
We gather information from the exercise of our natural and spiritual senses. Research sheds insight on just how they register the information we encounter and breaks it into percentages: we receive 83% of the information we process by sight; 11% by sound; 3.5% by smell; 1.5% by touch; and 1% by taste.
Considering these percentages, is it any wonder that we tend to say “seeing is believing”? Our ability to see natural and spiritual realities has a major impact on our ability to register information and develop understanding.
Research also reveals our ability to retain information is affected by how we receive it. We retain 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 50% of what we see and hear, 70% of what we discuss, and 90% of what we repeat and do. We retain much more when we give expression to and apply a new insight to our lives.
While each of us has the ability to absorb and retain information, and to develop understanding, some of us tend to retain better when we hear while others retain better by seeing. We all retain more when we see, hear, and give expression to (or act upon) new information.
Jesus instructed us not only to be open to inspirational thought but also to diligently ask, seek, and knock:
I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For…who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened (Luke 11:9-10)
While no one has the capacity to comprehend everything in the natural and spiritual realms, Jesus said we can understand in greater depths if we seriously seek. We should not accept and “just believe” everything we have been taught. The sincerity of our search has a great effect on what we come to understand to be true and real.
I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth (John 16:12-13).
God offers to enlighten each of us, so we can understand. Jesus admonished us to allow the Spirit of truth to lead and guide us into more than we currently know. God wants to show each of us greater truth and bring fuller understandings.
Our perceptions produce a lasting effect on our mental, emotional, and physical health. Our understanding of what is true and right exercises sway over what we eat, where we go, what we do in various situations, and how we treat each other.
George Washington Carver was a black man born into slavery. He went on to become one of the most prominent scientists and inventors of his time (early 1900s). He devised over 100 products from the peanut and formulated other very important products for the 20th century, like plastics and gasoline.
Late in life, George reported: “When I was young, I said, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the universe.’ But God answered, ‘That knowledge is reserved for me alone.’ So I said, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.’ Then God answered, ‘Well, George, that’s more nearly your size.’”
George was initially asking for insight that was beyond his ability to understand. When he humbly scaled his request back to what he could understand and what would be useful, God accommodated him.
We are all limited in some ways by our family circumstances and where we are raised, but we do not have to surrender to the self-imposed restrictions. More significantly, we limit ourselves by our lack of desire to seek and consider beyond what we already know.
We want to be receptive to all that God desires to share with us. When we diligently search, we begin to understand in greater degrees. Let us seek to discover so wisdom will come.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! (Romans 11:33)
For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6).
Wisdom is the application of understanding. When we desire to understand and diligently seek insight, degrees of understanding will come and wisdom regarding its application results. Without God in our life, our wisdom is greatly limited.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him (Proverbs 3:5).
What does Scripture mean by our own understanding? “Our own” refers to the thoughts and actions that ignore or seek to negate God and His input. Communism and socialism are examples. Both are rooted in the biblical concept of sharing but disdain God and negate His involvement. Consequently, they govern in ways that degrade life. When we consider God’s input, everything makes more sense.
Most of our experiences stir thoughts and feelings. These conscious considerations are opportunities to process and absorb new insight into our developing consciousness. Scripture encourages us to observe, consider, and seek to understand.
With all your acquiring, get understanding (Proverbs 4:7).
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).
Are we satisfied with passive or occasional involvement with God, our real source of understanding? Do we earnestly desire to understand what life is all about? Are we energetically pursuing more insight? Have you considered how fully water covers the sea?
Conscious Soul Informs Us
Our soul is where we gather, evaluate, and act upon information flowing to us. Having information can be very valuable, but having useful information is indispensable:
A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a man below.
He descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”
The man below replied, “You are in a hot air balloon, hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground.” Then he added, “You are between 40 and 41 degrees north and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.”
“You are obviously a technical person,” said the balloonist.
“I am,” replied the man, “but how did you know?”
“Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help to me at all.”
The man below responded, “You must be in management.”
“I am,” replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”
“Well,” said the man, “you don’t know where you are or where you are going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.”
This chapter will help us understand what our soul is, how it develops, how it functions, and what factors influence the decisions we make in life. We shall see that our soul is the combined activity of our mind, will, and emotions: our ability to consciously register what we experience.
As we have seen, God created the first human by combining elements from the natural and spiritual realms into a living being. Every one of us originates from this formative beginning. We all have a body and spirit that link us to both the natural and spiritual realities. While our body and spirit connects us to our realms of origin, our five senses are the tools we use to relate with both of these realms.
Mankind’s existence began in the earth as a lump of clay when God fused a touch of His eternal Spirit into the formed body, a heart began to beat, a soul started to exist, and a personal consciousness emerged.
When the soul of the first man came into existence, it rapidly began to record information and form perceptions of reality. The soul provides a personal awareness of self, of others, of the world around us and enables us to interact with our creative Father.
We trust you’ve enjoyed the preview for this chapter. We hope you’ll purchase a copy of the book and join us on this exciting faith journey. Created to Relate is available from this website or Amazon.com