“Mystery is not something you can’t know. Mystery is endless knowability.”
Right now, more than 14.1 billion miles away from Earth, Voyager 1 is on a journey in interstellar space. Every second, it probes deeper into uncharted territory, where no human-made object has ever gone before. Voyagers 1 and 2 were launched in 1977 with the primary mission of exploring the outer planets of our solar system: Jupiter, Mars, Uranus, and Neptune. Twelve years later, that mission was complete. These two spacecraft gave us the ability to go where our feet cannot, to see what we will never see with our own eyes. Through their photographs, we were able to see a fraction of otherworldly landscapes on distant planets and their moons, gaining new perspectives of our home solar system.
Even so, the journey was only beginning.
In 1990, a new mission began: the Voyager Interstellar Mission. The new goal was to explore the outer limits of not only our planetary neighbors but of the solar system itself. In 2012, Voyager 1 exited the heliosphere—where the force of solar wind is balanced by the pressure from interstellar medium. Voyager 2 crossed this boundary in 2018. However, neither will fully exit our solar system until passing through the Oort Cloud in approximately 30,000 years. Beyond that? Trillions of galaxies, countless stars, nebulas, dark matter, and ever-expanding, infinite space.
I recently had a conversation with an old friend about faith, doubt, and those themes that thread their way through our personal stories. She reminded me of something I once said in college, about how I never felt finished learning certain lessons. The same themes seemed to come up over and over, like a spiral. I haven’t thought of it in those terms in awhile, but once she mentioned it, I realized that it still rings true.
The greatest lessons of my adult life have been contained in three small, uncertain words: “I don’t know.”
The concepts of trust, letting go, and accepting uncertainty have persistently shown up in my life time and time again. I’ve always been a bit of a questioner, but I haven’t always been okay with not having answers. I used to be so certain that if I looked long enough—tried hard enough—I would figure it all out. I’d research and roll my questions around in my mind until I came up with a satisfactory explanation. I knew that every answer could be found in the pages of my Bible, or at least via a sermon at church. I just had to keep looking, keep trying, keep striving. Things were very black and white, true or false, either/or.
There was little room for the in-between, especially when it came to faith.
Eventually, the answers I found were no longer enough. There was too much that didn’t fit. The questions intensified, and the more I learned, the more I realized how little I knew. What began as an exploration of my immediate boundaries kept pushing further into the outer expanses, and I realized that it all keeps going. There is no end, only more mystery.
The older I get, the deeper the not-knowing becomes—but paradoxically, so does the knowing. As the universe expands, so do the limits of what we don’t understand. If God is infinite, there is always more to (not) know. How arrogant to imagine that we could have it all figured out!
Grasping for complete, absolute answers that we can wrap our minds around will always fail. But when we surrender to the Unknown, the deeper we go. There is always more to discover.
Accepting the not-knowing is not an excuse to be passive. Rather, it’s a voyage into deeper knowing. It’s a constant openness, a constant acknowledgment that there is so much to learn—and so much to unlearn.
In that tenuous, expanding space, we’re always met where we are. We’re invited to keep moving into the unknown, one step at a time. From the darkest depths of the sea to the outer expanses of the universe, the promise remains the same: “I am with you always.” We are never out of reach.
Here, there is no arriving; there is only being where we are. There is only continuing on. There is only more becoming.
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