How to Live with Uncertainty
In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day Chapter 5
Presumptuous blog title, no? How to live with uncertainty. Nevertheless, that’s what Chapter Five of In a Pit is teaching in no uncertain terms. Uncertainty is a part of life…maybe even the best part of life. Benaiah had no clue he was going to chase a lion the morning he woke up and changed his destiny. And once the chase was on, Benaiah had no guarantee of a checkmark in the win column. And neither do we. So how do we embrace the uncertainty that God has built into life?
- Tolerate interruptions. 90% of the time it is the unexpected, unimagined twist on our day and on our life that reveals God’s fingerprint. Yesterday it was the unexpected moment in the bar that gave me the framework to evaluate the whole crazy patchwork of my day. Viewing those 15 minutes cooling my heals waiting for food as an interruption in my plan would have robbed me of that insight. I am not particularly good at this process, by the way. In fact, one of the ironies of this post is that as I was writing a college friend of mine was instant messaging with me while he sat in an (apparently) uninspiring class, my computer froze necessitating a conversation with a mac-using neighbor at the next table, my husband called wanting to meet me at a different coffee shop, and the barista at the second coffee shop sat down for an extended conversation with us about life, faith, what he wants to do with his life and how to get there. Yes, they were interruptions to this post, but they were the point of my day!
- Be counterintuitive. The way God works in one life or church is seldom the way he works in another. If your mental map of “how God works” is modeled on someone else, you need to break that mold. Batterson writes, “Regardless of your vocational calling or relational status you have to do something counterintuitive if you want to reach your God-given potential and fulfill your God-given destiny. Sometimes you have to run away from security and chase uncertainty.” My life is filled with uncertainties, as is yours. I am going to cultivate the discipline of looking at them as opportunities, trying to find the counterintuitive approach.
- Prepare. Batterson uses the example of the Day of Pentecost. The disciples didn’t plan Pentecost; they weren’t even aware that it was coming. All of it was an interruption, an uncertainty. But they had prepared themselves for Pentecost by fasting, praying, being where God needed them. The chapter asks us what would happen if instead of spending all our energy planning events for God and telling him how we need him to work, if instead we spent that energy seeking after God. You can’t plan Pentecost, but you can be prepared.
- View complications as blessings. While sometimes the complications in our lives can come as a result of wrong choices, most of the time they arise as a result of the good things we do in our lives. My complications come from my elderly mother, my growing kids or having too many great choices of activity in my life. These are blessings, all. Remember the parable of the talents? The reward for doing your work well was…more work. And so it is today. I was frustrated by the complications of arranging my family’s summer travel schedule last week, until I remembered what a blessing it is to have three nieces and nephews who love me and are getting happily and wonderfully married this summer.
- Rest. Above all I am trying to remember that God has a plan, and he is working his plan. I can rest in that. Mark Batterson tells the story of the untimely death of his father-in-law. In the aftermath of that grief, he would often find himself sighing with a grieving, overwhelmed heart. During this time he took to heart the verse in Psalms which says, “Give hear to my words, O Lord. Consider my sighing.” God hears our sighing – those moments of overwhelming burden – and interprets them as prayers. That thought has helped me a lot as a sigh escapes me. I know that my sigh represents all the uncertainty in my life: the knowledge that I have no idea what the right course to take is, the worry over my famiy’s choices, the unknown variables that my job sometimes means I must plan for. My sigh represents the unknown regarding all these things, and God hears it as a prayer. This is good.
One metaphor from this chapter encouraged a new attitude in my daily life this week. I am going to write my life in pencil, and make sure it has a good eraser. How about you?