Buffering and Baby Talk
"Daddy, why's it keep doing that?" asks my cute little 3-year-old for the seventh time.
Here we are, trying to enjoy a quiet evening with some ice cream and 101 Dalmatians. My three daughters are patiently waiting for the scene to unfold on the screen, yet we are stuck watching "Buffering" instead of seeing if Roger and Anita will fall in love after they fall into the lake. Why does this keep happening?
Well, the long answer is complicated. Maybe the bandwidth is overloaded on our particular router. Perhaps too many users are accessing the same file. Maybe our BluRay player is updating itself while we are watching the movie. Maybe the signal sent to the house is being split around the neighborhood and we got the short end of the Mbps. All of these reasons swirled through my head as I prepared to answer her question.
And then I realized that my daughter is three and still doesn't grasp the concept of snapping her pants by herself. So, I do what any sensible parent would do. I shrug my shoulders and say, "I dunno honey. Isn't it crazy? I wonder what will happen."
Now my 7-year-old pipes in, "But why is it really happening?" Now I have to give an actual answer.
"Well, this movie isn't really on our TV, it's on someone else's, and they are sending it to our TV. Sometimes when that happens it takes a long time to send it and we have to wait. Don't worry, it'll come back on soon."
Did I just lie to my children? I don't believe so. Truthfully, I didn't know what was happening and my answer to our oldest could be a simple definition of how Netflix works. If I tried to explain the in's and out's of bandwidth, wireless routers, file-sharing, and differed signal strength to them they wouldn't be able to understand it. They aren't to that level yet.
In a way, God has to do the same thing to us when we ask tough questions. How can God be sovereign and yet man still be responsible for his actions? Why should we pray if God is going to do what He wants anyway? Why did God create a world with the possibility of sin? Why is there sickness and evil? Why does a precious baby suffer birth defects when a careless parent seemingly suffers nothing?
All of these questions and more have answers. God explains them in scripture. But I wonder if God responds to us the same way we respond to our children. The truth is in His infinite mind. But as He looks at us He says, "There is an answer, but you could never understand it all, so just trust me. Things will work out fine in the end."
Is God being untruthful? Is He withholding the answers to be mean or petty? Absolutely not. As John Calvin said,
"For who even of slight intelligence does not understand that, as nurses commonly do with infants, God is wont in a measure to "lisp" in speaking to us? Thus such forms of speaking do not so much express clearly what God is like as accommodate the knowledge of him to our slight capacity." (Institutes 1.13.1)
In other words, we have a "slight capacity" of understanding in our finite minds, and God gives us what we can handle. God doesn't tell us the whole truth because, in the words of the famed Colonel Jessup, we can't handle the truth. It is ours to trust and obey, and be content with what God has given us to understand and believe.
"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law." ~ Deuteronomy 29:29