I’m back from Indiana and had an awesome time with so many people, I can’t keep them all straight. The first two days I hung out with some folks who are living a bit outside the box. The last two I was interviewed about So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore by a pastor and then did two evening question/answer sessions in a theater about The Shack and helping people live in Father’s love. Monday I spent the morning at Anderson University with some of the faculty, staff and students and even spoke in a Human Sexuality Class. How weird is that? Then Monday night about fifty of us were in a home for another question/answer session from He Loves Me and So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore. I met some wonderfully awesome people this weekend and am blessed to have been able to spend time with so many people at so many different places in their spiritual journey.
Such are the adventures of living in the freedom of God’s unfolding purpose. You never know where you might end up. When I travel I usually let the people who invite me plan whatever they want. I’m happy to fit in anywhere people want to explore what a life lived love looks like. (That’s a lot of ‘ls’.) And I find that God does things I’d never think to plan or suggest. And when I remember the kind of person I used to be, I can’t believe I can live in that space now with such freedom. It truly is a work of grace.
Two people over the last two days have sent me today’s reading from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest. I used to read that every day for years, but haven’t it a while. I love how relationally he thought about God. This reading expresses well what I see God want to set us free in. Our flesh wants to live in the false certainty of our plans and schemes. God invites us on an adventure where he is our certainty, not our schedules.
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 the spiritual life. The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty. Consequently, we do not put down roots. Our common sense says, “Well, what if I were in that circumstance?” We cannot presume to see ourselves in any circumstance in which we have never been.
Certainty is the mark of the commonsense 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. When we become simply a promoter or a defender of a particular belief, something within us dies. That is not believing God — it is only believing our belief about Him. Jesus said, “. . . unless you . . . become as little children . . .” (Matthew 18:3 ). The spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. If our certainty is only in our beliefs, we develop a sense of self-righteousness, become overly critical, and are limited by the view that our beliefs are complete and settled. But when we have the right relationship with God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy. Jesus said, “. . . believe also in Me” (John 14:1 ), not, “Believe certain things about Me”. Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in— but you can be certain that He will come. Remain faithful to Him.
A college student asked me Sunday night how someone could know what their calling is. I had answered that the best way to know our calling is to simply wake up every day in the love of the Father, and then let that love spill out of us through the day as we respond to the opportunities that cross our paths. Eventually we’ll find ourselves smack in the middle of what gives him and us so much pleasure. We mostly know our calling by looking back and seeing how God has fulfilled himself in us, rather than figuring it out in advance and setting a strategy to get there.
At least that has been true for me. I’ve taken to telling people now the surest way for me not to be where God wants me six months from now is for him to tell me. If he does, I’ll try to get there by my own strength and reasoning, and what results is way too man-made. But if I just follow him today, and wake up tomorrow and follow him again, six months from now I’ll be exactly where he wants me to be on this journey. I love that!