Naturally, we are inclined to be so mathemathical and calculating that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing…Certainty is a mark of the common-sense life; gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are certain in all our ways; we do not know what a day may bring forth. This is generally said with a sigh of sadness; it should rather be an expression of breathless expectation.
– Oswald Chambers
I can’t begin to tell you how many times, over the past two years especially, I have had the all too familiar conversation regarding my future plans. Sometimes it’s with the parents, sometimes with friends, sometimes with extended family, and sometimes with out-of-blue aquaintences I knew from way back when.
Sometimes I’ll find myself calling my future “plans” by other names. I call them “steps” or speak about “seasons of life”…all of which is an effort to hopefully tweak some of the semantics in order that everyone would understand that not knowing exactly what you are going to do next is so very okay…and in my estimation, so long as their is genuine seeking after what His will is for the next, it’s a better place to be.
In the first and second chapter of Matthew we see a pretty extreme example of someone living obediently within uncertainty. We all know who Joseph, Father to Jesus was…he’s the guy we put behind everyone else, cattle included sometimes, in our nativity scenes…which by the way is odd because the wise men went into their “house” to meet the newborn King, and did so two years or so after his birth…so yeah, the whole fresh-out-the-womb depiction, wise men gathered round at his moment of birth…more anachronism than anything else.
Anyway, we see in Matthew that Joseph was confronted in a dream by an angel of the Lord. It was here he was told that Mary bore a child of the Holy Spirit, of whom would save all the world from their sins. I bet he was thinking something along the lines of…”what the crazy!”
Haha, good luck explaining that one…even in a patriarchical society as 1st century Hewbrew culture, he would undoubtedly be thought as big a fool and a danger as his already socially ostracized wife. But, through a bit of firm leading by God, Joseph headed down the path of uncertainty…in certainty…or in faith, since that is what bridges our feable minds from their certain retreats when faced with outcomes and possibilites we cannot conveniently control.
Then Joseph, warned in another dream by the Lord, took baby Jesus, and still supposed harlot-wife Mary, from Jerusalem to Egypt to avoid the certain hunt chartered by King Herod. And so, like my pastor, and countless others before him, Joseph packed it all up and headed with family at side to a land not their own.
Joseph was then met in another dream by the Lord, instructing him to take his family to the land of Israel because Herod and those who hunted Jesus were dead. On the way to Israel Joseph heard that Archaleus, Herod’s son, a man of equally feared ambitions, was ruling over Judea. Time for another dream…Joseph was again led to withdraw to Galilee and eventually settle in the city of Nazareth.
Do you see the theme here…Joseph was living dream to dream for God’s most dire instructions. We complain, in some truth and reality, about living paycheck to paycheck, but to live dream to dream…can we even begin to understand the faith that must take…even if it’s simply thrusted into your subconcious without acceptance? I can’t!
But nevertheless, Joseph lived a most uncertain life…and most perfect adventure in my estimation. How would he have answered any of the people in my life who begged the question of what’s next. I’ll tell you what he would have done…he would have told them all that he was made aware of, and peacefully left it at that. What else is there to say. I don’t not elaborate on my future because I have lack of ambition…nor do I seem alouf when details are asked about what’s next simply because I have not given them any thought.
I tell everyone right now…I have thought about my future in such depth and earnestness that I have forsaken every bit of adventure the Lord was waiting for me to trust in right now. I have cried til my head has pounded, prayed ’til the sun came up, prayed ’til the sun tucked itself away, day-dreamed until I was lost from all the world…all in an effort to discern God’s will for my life, which is only ever His to have and do what He wishes with.
I have done these things over, and over, and over again. But, in my time here this semester, I have had my eyes opened all the more to the simplicity of a faith more Mother Teresa than anything else…one that requires trust at every turn, not because it’s simply the better way about things, but because it’s the only way to truly live.
So, in case you were wondering, no…I do not know exactly what the next “steps” or “season” will be for me. It will certainly involve and encircle my remaining semester after this in order to complete my degree, but beyond that…and I say this with excitement and with confidence as I have been ever seeking the answers…I do not know. You show me someone across from me who harps on about needing a plan within God’s plan to truly live effectively and successfully and I’ll show you a life across from me that spills its edges with boredom and pragmatism. I await not only adventure, but God’s will…and I will, “get busy and wait” as an Old Chinese Proverb says.
I don’t want to be successful by way of what the world calls successful!
I don’t want to be effective in what the world calls effective!
I don’t even want to worry myself with being right…instead I desire to be obedient to God and His Spirit. So, the next time you think of my future, know this…I would rather wait upon the Lord than throw my failure into motion just for the sake of slaking my lust against patience.
I am a student now…and true as my God is, I have ingredients that call out deep within me to pursue missions for my King. But beyond a few speculations, and that’s all they are, as not one of them has been made plain before me by God as the next…beyond a few dreams I’ve mistakenly shared aloud too freely, (having been chastised for not following through on any of them)…I can offer only but a handful of possibilities as to where my next truly resides.
I dare not even mention them here for all the world to see, as they tug at my heart in ways that only God understands. But, if you wish to know about them, although I’m sure there are thousands of things you’d could better with pouring your eyes, ears and heart over, I would be happy to share. Just know, I echo Mr. Chambers, Jesus’ earthly Dad, and Indiana Jones in confidence when I say…I know not of the exact mysteries that charter my adventure ahead in this life for God…and right now…I couldn’t pray for a better place to be…a place testing my resolve, my very faith with trusting in what is not seen.
Indiana Jones may be a swashbuckling hero who can handle ancient history, beautiful women and a forty-five with ease…but he is also a man who knows that braving ahead in mystery, uncertainty, and in faith is at the core of what every follower must somehow come to terms with if ever they are to live this life the way God intended.
Jones: Get back to Cairo. Get us some transport to England…boat, plane, anything. Meet me at Omars. Be ready for me. I’m going after that truck.
Jones: I don’t know…I’m making this up as I go along.
I am certainly not making this up as I go along, nor am I simply following the whims of my will and strength…but I do pray that I am running hard and fast after whatever He is ever getting ready to unveil before me. I pray we can always run after him with vigor and obesession without knowing the specifics…as though we’re making it up along as we go…reacting as we go!
I thank the Lord today for His mystery and His perfect way of drawing out of us a faith that will prove to be more than common sense, pragmatic and safe.
“The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will”…Fair enough…but I contend it is because it’s the most perfectly dangerous.
It’s the only place in the entirety of existence that you will be found with a faith that is truly alive…you can’t live in such a place, without such a faith.
May we all walk and run in faith…certainly uncertain.