“Not Knowing” by Mary Gardiner Brainard (1837–1905)
Not knowing the things that shall befall me there.—ACTS XX. 22.
I know not what will befall me: God hangs a mist o’er my eyes;
And thus, each step of my onward path, He makes new scenes arise,
And every joy He sends to me comes like a sweet surprise.
I see not a step before me as I tread on another year;
But I’ve left the past in God’s keeping,—the future His mercy shall clear,
And what looks dark in the distance may brighten as I draw near.
For perhaps the dreaded future is less bitter than I think;
The Lord may sweeten the waters before I stoop to drink;
Or, if Marah must be Marah, He will stand beside its brink.
It may be He keeps waiting, for the coming of my feet,
Some gift of such rare blessedness, some joy so strangely sweet,
That my lips shall only tremble with the thanks they cannot speak.
O restful, blissful ignorance! ’t is blessëd not to know;
It keeps me still in those mighty arms which will not let me go,
And lulls my weariness to rest on the bosom that loves me so.
So I go on not knowing,—I would not if I might;
I would rather walk in the dark with God than go alone in the light;
I would rather walk with Him by faith than walk alone by sight.
My heart shrinks back from trials which the future may disclose,
Yet I never had sorrow but what the dear Lord chose;
So I send the coming tears back with the whispered word, “He knows.”
This poem, “Not Knowing,” captures my heart’s cry. It echoes the desires of my inner me. I could not express my own emotions better than Brainard does in this poem.
For most people, not knowing is a scary thing. But as the Message translates Acts 20:22, that even though "I'm completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there,” there still "is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go . . . ." Paul goes on to say that hard times matter little; however, “what matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.”
So, here I am. I am following an unknown path. I am compelled to follow it. So, I am sending back the coming tears with the whispered word, “He knows.” So, I am eagerly anticipating the joys that are to come as I attempt to focus on what matters most, enjoying the privilage of being His messenger of amazingly good news!
And because He does know this path, although narrow and unknown to me, it is worth traveling.
O restful, blissful ignorance! It is blessed not to know!