What do you do when you don’t know what to do? I promise you this is not a trick question. We all face uncertainty at some point in our lives. Some of us deal with it better than others. If you are a planner, who likes having your activities marked in black ink on your calendar (or colour coded on your tablet) then uncertainty is one boat you do not want to ride. If however you thrive on spontaneity then you will welcome the almost adrenaline rush of not knowing what tomorrow holds. If you are one of the latter group, then this article is not for you. But then again you might have a friend who is living with uncertainty and you can help them by reading this so that you can understand where they are coming from.
One of the bible stories that never ceases to inspire and challenge me is the one about Abraham. I don’t know about you, but I would have a major problem with being told to pack up my family and belongings and move to a place with no name, at least not a name that has been disclosed to me – yet. It’s a bit like packing for a holiday when you have no idea where your destination is. How do you know what to pack? Will you need warm clothes or cool ones, walking boots or sandals? There is also the part about leaving behind loved ones – cousins and aunties and uncles. Not to mention familiar scents and smells, walks that you know like the back of your hand. All in a bid to go somewhere you have very little clue about. Kudos to Abraham, he is definitely one of my heroes.
What is it about not knowing that frightens us? I think it is the fact that we cannot prepare for what we don’t know. And when you are not prepared, it means you don’t know how you are going to cope if that unknown thing or place turns out to be something you are not used to. There is also the comfort that familiarity carries with it, like a child that holds on to its comforter as though its life depended on it. It is familiar. There is something soothing about what is familiar. How can we be sure that we will survive let alone thrive on the other side of familiarity – a place called Unknown?
And yet, many times (at least this has been my experience) God calls us to walk down a path that is called Uncertainty. We can choose to say no, and hold on to the apron strings of Familiarity or we can say yes to the adventure of a lifetime and allow ourselves to be catapulted down the exciting slope of Uncertainty. I know you are probably thinking, there is no way that sounds like fun to me, but trust me you discover only when you get to the other side that it really has been fun.
I don’t like uncertainty, and I think that if I had to choose every time, I would probably choose to know every last detail, with no room for surprise. But have you found that sometimes, you don’t even get to choose? It is as though God knows that if He lets you choose, you would choose wrong, so He orchestrates circumstances to bring you to a place where you have to trust Him to lead you one baby step at a time. Just like He did Abraham. Only giving you information on a need to know basis. It’s a bit like walking in a dark tunnel in a single file – you hold onto the person in front and trust they know where they are going.
The last three and a quarter years of my life have had increasingly more uncertainty than I would have asked for and it does not appear that I am anywhere near the end of that season. It has taken a while but I have finally learned that God cannot be cajoled when He is bent on teaching me something that He believes I need to learn. I have learned also that I can embrace uncertainty as a friend rather than an enemy sent to drive me potty. If something makes me more dependent on God and on hearing His voice daily in a fresh way then surely it must be friend not foe.
My advice to anyone who finds themself in a season of uncertainty is the same as you would give someone about to sky dive. Take a deep breath and jump. Don’t fight the elements. Instead surrender yourself completely; you will glide more gracefully and effortlessly. And above all, make sure you enjoy the experience. For in the long run, knowing what tomorrow holds is no way nearly as important as knowing the One who created tomorrow. The same One who promised that “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
So I am praying a lot and seeking out my Father in His Word more than ever. Not because I want any brownie points or am trying to be super spiritual but simply because I am desperate for His reassuring presence. Like a drowning person clings tightly to the hand held out to them, I am clinging tightly to the only One that can bring me safely to my Promised Land. Mostly I pray in the Spirit, because I often don’t know what I should be praying let alone how I should be praying it. But that’s ok, there is a verse that covers that too – Romans 8:26-28. And while I may not have got to the place where I can truthful call Uncertainty my bosom friend, she is certainly not the enemy I used to think she was. Perhaps you can embrace her too?
In His Precious Name,
*And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:26-28 NLT)