Dawn Seow

The Mystery Of “I Don’t Know”: Aries Zulkarnain

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Once in a while, Christians will reach a place where they don’t know what else to do. Aries Zulkarnain explores the answer to this difficult position.

“When you reach the place of ‘I don’t know’, the thing you need is not an answer or a solution. What you need is the perseverance to keep on sowing.”

On the weekend of Jul 21 and 22, Aries Zulkarnain, City Harvest Church’s executive pastor. tackled an issue most Christians face at one point of their journey or other. Starting with the parable of the growing seed in Mark 4:26-29, Zulkarnain noted that Jesus chose to use a parable to explain growth in the Kingdom of God, “because it is not so simple that it can be reduced to a principle.”

Similarly, when it comes to growth, there is no one proven method that works all the time. Zulkarnain pointed out that Mark 4:27 says that the farmer himself does not know how the seed grows.

“Many times, when someone asks you how you grew your cell group or how you got over divorce, your answer would be, ‘I don’t know’,” Zulkarnain said. “Or you may have come to a place in your life where you don’t know what to do anymore. What you need may not be a solution or an answer; what you need is perseverance.”

The farmer in the parable may not know how the seeds grow, but he knows that he cannot stop sowing. Zulkarnain explained that growth is a mystery, but the act of sowing is the act of putting pieces together to reveal the mystery. That act of sowing requires perseverance.

Zulkarnain noted that it is not always easy to acknowledge “I don’t know” in this result-oriented and solution-minded world. He reminded the congregation of three things.


When the farmer in the parable says he does not know how the seed grows, it doesn’t mean he is ignorant, the pastor explained. The farmer is familiar enough with farming to know what he needs to do and when he needs to trust God.

“’I don’t know’ is not a state of ignorance, it’s a state of trusting God,” explained Zulkarnain. “In fact, if a person makes God part of a formula and expects Him to produce results, he is being ignorant.”

Zulkarnain recalled the recent drama of the 12 young footballers and their coach who were trapped in a cave for nine days in Thailand. The pastor imagined that the boys would have asked their coach what to do, or if they were going to die. The coach’s answer would likely have been, “I don’t know”.

Yet they kept on sowing seeds of hope. “The coach may not have had ‘Nine steps to get out of a cave’ or ‘Five ways to go from cave-man to brave-man’,” the pastor quipped. “But he kept on sowing—every day he and the boys looked for a way out even though they had no guarantee of any result. Because one thing is for certain: if you give up and stop sowing, there is a guarantee of no results.”

Zulkarnain reminded the congregation that growth, results and deliverance come from God. They did not have to feel bad if they did not know what to do anymore, they just had to keep on sowing.


“When you ask a young person ‘What do you want to do?’ most people will say ‘I don’t know’,” Zulkarnain said. He went on to assure the congregation that there is no embarrassment in saying “I don’t know” if they really did not know what God wanted them to do.

“Because by saying you don’t know doesn’t make you insignificant,” he said. “It just shows that you are not sure of the significance of what you are doing at the moment.”

Going back to the illustration of the farmer, Zulkarnain said that when the farmer did not see instant growth from the seeds, he did not start eyeing his neighbor’s farm, or think that he was in the wrong career.

He emphasized that the lack of instant results does not mean that the seed sowing is insignificant.

“Listen, you don’t need a bigger assignment to prove your significance,” he declared. ” Your significance is in your current assignment.”

Zulkarnain gave the example of British diver John Volanthen, one of the duo that rescued the Thai footballers. Volanthen wrote on Twitter, “I dive for passion and always wondered if it would have purpose. Last two weeks was what I prepared for my entire life.”

Purpose, the pastor explained, is the intersection where opportunity and preparation meet. He encouraged the congregation to keep on giving their best to the things they are doing, even if they may not know what their destiny is.

One day, Goliath will show up and God will send the most prepared person to face the giant, said Zulkarnain. “Your worst adversity will always come at the time you are most prepared.”

In 1 Sam 17:11-14 that David showed up when Goliath was threatening the Israelites. He was not a soldier, but David was faithfully performing his assignments as a shepherd and delivery boy.

Speaking to the students in the congregation, Zulkarnain said, “You may think that what you are studying now has nothing to do with your passion or future assignment as a preacher or pastor. But you are wrong. Tending sheep certainly didn’t look like it would equip David to fight Goliath, but God always works through your current assignment. You must always be faithful first, then you can become full of faith.”

Turning his attention to the adults, the pastor said that they might think that their current job is not going to bring them to success. But maybe God is waiting for them to learn to be faithful in the current assignment before promoting them to the next.


In Exodus 3:10-14, God told Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. When Moses asked God he did not know how to do it, God’s reply was not about the how, it was about the who.

“When you don’t know how to do things, then turn to the who, turn to Jesus!” Zulkarnain said.

He encouraged the church to depend on Jesus, because He is the Person of victory who will bring them into victory.

In closing, the pastor listed the Bible heroes who went through hard times yet did not stop sowing. Ultimately, God always lifted them out of their situations and into victory.

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