The freedom of not knowing

Some people move as soon as they are certain God has asked them to move. I have written previously about how we know it’s God speaking so I am assuming here that as best as one can discern, they are certain God has issued an instruction. One of the most famous examples is Abraham, a man who was in his 70s when God told him to leave his home and travel to a land he would be shown. Abraham obeyed without hesitation. This is where I would like to be but alas, I am more like Moses at the burning bush, questioning God’s instructions.

When God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe issues an instruction, it is implicit in who He is that He has planned for all eventualities. Our response should be that of gratitude because God could accomplish His will without involving us if He so desired. We are a very dispensable part of the equation. Yet so often like Moses, we feel the need to ask clarifying questions, or even suggest someone else for the task. Could God have made a mistake in choosing us? Do we know something He doesn’t? I suspect our questions betray our understanding of who He is and show how much we truly trust Him.

This often debilitating need to know the future isn’t just limited to when God calls on us to take seemingly impossible steps of faith. It is also evident in our daily choices. We try to figure out the entire journey of life before we take a single step and when life inevitably spins out of our control, we are awash with worry and panic. This is one area of life children teach us valuable lessons. If I make a promise to my children, they intrinsically understand that it isn’t up to them to work out how that promise is going to be fulfilled. They leave that to me and carry on enjoying their lives. Furthermore, they aren’t too concerned about their reputation, so how things turn out is my problem, not theirs. I believe this is the level of trust God wants from us. If I have surrendered my life to God, then how my life turns out is up to God, not me. It’s His reputation on the line in the same way that it would be my reputation on the line if my children turned up at school dishevelled.

Try as we might, knowing the future isn’t in our purview. However, what we do with the present certainly is. David says in Psalm 139:16 “…all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”. This has been a memory verse for me in this covid-19 season. I read in there that when God decided the length of my days before I was born, He factored in covid-19. If my days are to be ended by covid-19 or something else, then God ordained it. If He didn’t, then He wouldn’t be sovereign. This means for me that whatever comes my way is either from God or through God, and no one else. This revelation has been instrumental in dispelling fear in my home.

That verse also implies that all the circumstances I will ever face in life have been written in God’s book. This doesn’t mean I live a life of passive fatalism. Because in giving me free will, God makes me responsible for how I respond when I face those circumstances. I am entirely responsible for what I do with the days God has ordained for me to live. If so, how am I to live out my days? Here, Paul’s example from centuries ago is instructive. Writing to the Church in Philippi from a prison uncertain about his future, Paul says he doesn’t know whether he will live or die, but if he is to carry on living, it will mean fruitful labour for him [Philippians 1:12-26].

Paul boldly surrendered his fate to God and focused on the things he could control. Living this way brings freedom and a lasting peace that surpasses all understanding. It eliminates the fear of the unknown and our need to save or prove ourselves. Furthermore, it frees us from pursuing the things of this world in the futile attempt to create our security. Additionally, when your security rests in God alone and not in fame, power, or money, you’ll naturally prioritise God’s agenda. Being fruitful in life happens when we prioritise God’s agenda over our own.

Have you truly surrendered your life to God? Have I? Our answer is laid bare when we are confronted with difficult choices. Am I trusting God if my condition for taking a step of faith is a guaranteed outcome? How about when I’m faced with difficult circumstances and an uncertain future? Do I walk by faith trusting God or by sight? In the cauldron of life, am I satisfied that God will reveal the things He wants me to know and if He doesn’t, He wants me to trust Him with my unknown? Does my professed surrender to the will of God manifest in my choices and what I focus my time and resources on?

These are questions to contemplate. Furthermore, in the final analysis of our lives, what will matter most is how fruitful we were in God’s sight. He has numbered our days and equipped us with gifts to serve Him through His Body [Ephesians 4:4-16]. Our ultimate purpose is to reflect the glory of the God who created us [Isaiah 43:7] and live to serve His will [Revelation 4:11]. Can you surrender the things you can’t control to God and focus on living for His glory, serving His will?

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