DayBreaks for 1/26/18: Freedom from Certainty
From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:
I probably need to be very clear today. What I’m about to say may stir up a ruckus. Here it is: there are many times in my life that I don’t know what to do, and when God hasn’t given direction. Whoa! How’s that for a shocker!? A pastor saying that he doesn’t know God’s will? I suppose such a statement could get me booted from some churches, but it’s true. Let me explain.
There are, at times, seemingly huge gaps between theology and real life – at least for me. Maybe you’re one of those people who never has any doubts, who every time you ask God for direction, you hear a very clear and direct set of instructions on what to do, when to do it, how to go about it and what the result will be. Well, that’s not me. I don’t think it was Moses, either, for that matter. When God first started talking to him, He simply said go down and Pharaoh will let you go. It sounded that simple. As Moses found out after his first few ventures into the throne room of Pharaoh, it wasn’t going to be that easy. Had Moses done what God said? Yep. To the letter. But it didn’t work. God knew all along that it wouldn’t. And so Moses comes back to God and complains about it. I would too, I think.
There are areas of life where the Bible is less than clear. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek answers in it. It may be there and we’ve just missed it. It may be we think we know what it says already so we won’t take the time or effort to be in prayer and seek it out.
I recently preached on 2 Peter 1 where Peter says we’ve “already been given all things” that we need for life and godliness. I take that, by faith, at face value. If Peter, inspired by the Spirit, says that’s true, who am I to disagree? But does it always pan out that way in my life? No – probably partly because I don’t want to work as hard as Peter says I need to in order to experience it (“make EVERY EFFORT”, Peter says). And, I also find, that even when I do know what Scripture says (such as “Love your neighbor”) that such general principles are good as long as you are living in a general world without specifics. Andree Seu wrote (WORLD, 1/5/08): “But I consistently live in an insistently specific world where the issues are: ‘Should I take this job?’, ‘Should I marry this man?’, ‘Should I let Calvin learn on the stick shift?’, “Milk without the bovine growth hormones and antibiotics at $4.19/half gallon, or with the undesirables at $1.95/half gallon?”
I think she makes a good point, and that’s what I mean when I say I sometimes don’t know God’s specific will in a specific situation. I think I have a general grasp on the general principles which help guide decisions at such times, but I don’t have a specific answer. And we don’t like to operate on generalities in situations that demand specifics. We’re uncomfortable, at best, even distraught at times, wringing our hands in indecision.
Why do we do so? Don’t we have God’s promise that if we seek Him, and that if we love Him and the promise of His appearing, He’ll make all things work out for good for us? Yes, we have that promise, but we tend to not believe it very much, methinks. There are disputable matters (see Romans 14:1). That verse was written under inspiration. God could have made it so that there were no disputable things at all – or he could answer our uncertainties instantaneously – but he oftentimes doesn’t. That’s OK. We can make decisions with less than 100 percent certainty because He knows our limitations and He knows how to fix things we might unintentionally break. Mankind hasn’t yet broken anything that God can’t, and won’t, ultimately fix.
How many things in life are you certain of? I’m certain of some things: Jesus loves me, He is the Son of God, He died for me, He rose from the dead, He will come back again for me, He sees me and knows me and will keep me from ruin if I just have a bit of faith. Andree Seu concluded her article this way: “…I can move forward with a spiritual commodity that is more true to the real world than ‘certainty’ – ‘confidence.’ Confidence that God loves me. Confidence that His Spirit lives in me. Confidence that if I make a mistake His arms will be there to catch this frail saint and put her back on righteous paths, for His name’s sake.”
PRAYER: Help us to walk in confidence that You are as good as Your promises, that You are as powerful as You claim to be, and that You are more than able to fix things we do wrong in our ignorance. Do not let us sin presumptuously, Lord, but forgive us even when we do! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.