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The Space of Not Knowing is the Space for Grace

by HOLLY PENNINGTON GRACE God’s guidance & direction
The Space of Not Knowing is the Space for Grace
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“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this...”
Psalms 37:5

“Let writers beware who from the start know too much about what they are doing and keep too heavy a hand on the reins. They leave too little room for luck as they tell their stories, just the way Abraham and Sarah, if they know too much about what they are doing as they live their stories, leave too little room for grace.” - Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark

As an artist, Buechner’s warning resonates with me. Those who don’t face a blank canvas or page regularly may believe the myth that creatives are not intimidated by new slates. But, ask any author or artist and you will find a common thread: we don’t know what we are going to create before we start. 

Sometimes, we think we do. We come with plans and visions, characters and plot twists. But, if we stay humble and open to the Artist in charge, the final project is something that is birthed during the work of creating, not before it in our minds, and without the not-knowing, there would be no art. 

What a lesson for life, right? I want to know things: if my current church is where my family is supposed to be, if my daughter will make the team, what next step God wants for my art, why my knee hurts when I run, how to parent my passionate pre-teen. Clarity is something I pray for daily.  

But what if I did know? Is it possible that the more I know, the less room I leave for grace, as Buechner, who wrote both fiction and nonfiction, instructs? It seems like a way God would work. Perhaps God wants to fill the space of not-knowing with surprises just as He does in the creative process. 

So, the next time you hear yourself saying, “I just wish I knew…,” remember the artists. Remember the writers. Envision the spacious, blank canvas as the not-knowing. And look for all the grace. 

Closing Prayer
Dear Omniscient God, Only You can know all. Protect us from desiring to know more than we need. Humble us to come to blank spaces without knowing. Sensitize us to your graces as we show up for each next step and trust you in the process. Thank you.
Question for Reflection

What is your perspective on not-knowing?

Holly Pennington
February 08, 2024

As an Enneagram 5, I pretty much hate it! But, through my art and faith journey, I am learning to see it differently and trying to be more aware of God’s grace all along the way, especially in the gaps between questions and clarity.