Gracious Uncertainty

I heard someone say recently that if you offered a continually rotating class at your church entitled “How to Know the Will of God,” you would have no end of attendees. It is a natural human tendency to want to figure things out, to know definitively what direction to take, or to peer into the future. It’s clear through the fascination with fortune tellers, mediums, and clairvoyants of all sorts. And I think in the Christian world, it appears with our continuous desire to “know God’s will.” We want certainty before we take a step.

While it's important to seek God's direction, it can become easy to forget that God is much more interested in our faithfulness and our communion with Him than He is with micromanaging our decisions. He invites us into a glorious uncertainty. He asks us to follow with the simple trust of a child. Our life with the Lord is an adventure, not a carefully scripted list of predetermined movements which we must somehow decipher or forfeit his favor.

Often, we can miss opportunities for simple obedience and everyday kingdom work that are under our noses—because our minds are too far up in the clouds with determining God’s will or looking for a grand-scale sign. He has given us a clear picture in the Bible of his will for our lives in the day to day. He invites us into the wide-open fields of following him, of partnering with his work in the world, of delighting in him. And this day-by-day discipleship invitation to “Come follow Me” often leads us to the smallest of daily decisions and moments. The conversation with an ill neighbor, an encouraging note, clean diapers and full little bellies, a gracious response, an offered prayer. It’s in these small moments that disciples are made.

We can become stressed with our lack of definitive answers for the “big things” or our own future forecast. (Hello, welcome to my life right now.) Or we can keep our eyes focused on what the Lord has already put onto our path, into our lives, and follow the trail in simple faithfulness to wherever it leads.

Our natural inclination is to be so precise—trying always to forecast accurately what will happen next—that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We think that we must reach some predetermined goal, but that is not the nature of spiritual life. The nature of spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty. . .

Certainty is the mark of the common-sense life—gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises. . . . We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. . . . When we have the right relationship with God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy. . . . Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in, but He will come.

            - Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, April 29