Certainly Uncertain

Sure, we’re living in uncertain times. Certainly I don’t know what the future holds. And yet these are not the first days I’ve experienced uncertainty nor are these the first days this world has faced uncertainty.

As I consider the moments of greatest uncertainty in my life, the pattern I recognize is that each uncertain season was masked in a veil of certainty.

When I wasn’t wondering what would happen next it was only because I thought I knew what was around the next bend. The truth is we never truly know what’s coming, but every once in a while our eyes are opened to that reality.

Expecting to know what’s coming and experiencing the unexpected makes me feel unsettled in the inevitable, constant uncertainty. However, leaning into the reality of perpetual uncertainty allows me to better ride the waves because I know they’re coming. I can trust the waves will come even if I don’t know what the waves will be.

My home church spends a week with another church family on a reservation in Montana. We set a schedule for the week with times allotted for meals, small group events, work projects, conversations, VBS, and showering. The community’s relationship to time is looser than our own, projects take longer than planned, conversations linger, the doors to the showers are locked, the food takes longer to cook, and the teens give piggyback rides hours longer than we could have ever anticipated. When my expectation is the plan we wrote down and passed out in our schedule, the days feel chaotic. There’s an unsettling feeling of having veered off course. If, however, my expectation is that throughout the week we will go with the flow, prioritize relationships, see needs and meet them (whether those needs are dishes, encouraging words, piggyback rides, or dry walling), try to get a shower at some point in the week, and be faithfully present to whatever the days hold, the days suddenly feel less unstable.

With chronic health issues, a global pandemic, and a job that’s constantly adapting to the changes in our world, life feels uncertain. If I focus on the details of how I thought each day would look and notice the disparity between my expectation and my reality, I begin to unravel. Instead, I’m choosing – or rather trying to choose – to be faithfully present, do the best next thing as it comes, and focus on what is certain, known, and true.

I’m grateful that in a world where my life is not the same yesterday as it was today and in a world where tomorrow is sure to be different still, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. God’s word remains unchanged, His character is a constant, and His presence is tried and true. After rising from the dead, Jesus instructs His disciples to go and make more disciples and then assures them He will be with them always. In Matthew 28, the NIV uses the word surelySurely I am with you always, even to the end of the age. We can be sure – certain – that God will never leave us.

During this certainly uncertain season, we can choose to either set our schedules and plans with our hopes and expectations or we can choose to set our hearts and our minds on the God who promises to always be with us. God’s presence and immutability are certain.

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