I just read that the nuclear crisis in Japan is now at level seven, the highest level possible. While I have no doubt about the danger or seriousness of the crisis, I do find myself wondering about the decision making process. Who got to decide it is seven. Why not six?We live in a world where we try to clarify through numerical values. We also live in a world where there are 'experts' who are supposed to be able to accurately assess the situation.
The world I live in is much less graspable. I spend lots of time with people suffering various medical maladies. It seems, more often than not, that causes of illness are not really understood. As one man told me last week, "that's why doctors practice medicine." Nothing malicious in his tone. It was a simple statement of fact. The smartest folks around, studying and working long hours, still make mistakes or encounter problems which they cannot solve.
I have played the role of 'expert' on many occassions. I always say that when an idiot travels a long way to speak he becomes brilliant. What I mean by that is when I addressed a room full of CEO's they hung on my every word, whereas back home at the office I was regularly ignored. The people who know me best are much less likely to overstate my brilliance or overvalue my insights. They know the truth, that I am just not that smart!
According to standardized tests I am smarter than most. By virtue of multiple graduate degrees I am better educated than most. Through the advantages of many years of life and an interest in personal study I have learned more and more. Am I bragging? No, because the sad reality is that I seem to have little more than a passing knowledge of the things I have spent most of my life studying. Most of the time I feel like I am working a million piece puzzle and all I have constructed is thirty pieces. I have a long list of things to study some day and most of them are things which are important.
As I age I understand that it is vital to trust God more than I do. Everything hangs by a thread. I also see the need to love and care for others better. Somehow, our relationship with God is tied up with how we treat one another. I see that worship and praise is a better life stance than self centeredness. Thanksgiving beats greedily hungering for more and more. I also understand the power and horror of sin, especially the secret sin of one's inner heart. So I have learned and grown, but the thing I have learned most is how little I know. Very little. Very little about things which I am supposed to be an expert about and a resource.
So we live together in societies and communities cobbled together and under the guidance and leadership of falible human beings. Science and technology are as full of confusion as theology. We are all trying to figure it out and much of the time we are hoping that someone, somewhere has a grasp on things. We find comfort that someone can declare the level of threat, even if they might be just guessing.
The hunger for security is an interesting thing. It points, I think, to our alienation from God. It is a concrete reminder that things are not the way they should be. It is a motivation to face the Source, the God named Abba (Father) by Jesus. When we admit our limits and sense the Unlimited we begin the journey into life and truth. If the threat level is seven or one, it still all hangs by a thread. Yet there is reason for hope. Our God reigns.