The Idol of Certainty

by

I’ll suffice it to say that things have felt very uncertain around here lately. And for a girl who plans when she’s planning to buy her annual planner, that’s a shaky feeling. I like certainty. I enjoy predictability. I feel accomplished when everything goes according to plan.

But I’ve discovered that if all we do is stick to the plan, we may miss the majestic.

The Detour

We made a work trip into a family vacation last spring, winding our way from Texas up to Connecticut for yet another road-trip. We’d planned on trekking through Tennessee, then Virginia and up along through New England. But the map offered an alternative route through Ohio. A lightbulb came on, recalling friends who lived up that way we hadn’t seen in years.

“Let’s go!” And so Virginia was abandoned for Ohio, for unexpected time with friends along the way, a mere 45-minute detour.

Leaving Ohio, the plan would take us straight through New York. But the map held a forgotten spot of intrigue. Steve whispered to me, “Wanna go to Niagra Falls? It’s only four hours away.”

Me, the planner, the one who panics when plans change…when would this chance come again for this homebody Texan? “Yes! Let’s go!”

Winding along Lake Erie, we beheld the majestic that could have been missed. A day at the Falls, only the second day of the season for the tour that takes you into the freezing mist and, for a moment, into Canada. Uncertainty brought beauty, surprises, eyes opened wide to see what the next bend held.

The Daily Discomfort

Things are shaking up around here – an abrupt shift in career and income, not knowing when the call will come for our baby, lingering effects of a car accident last year, surgery and sickness, the schedule and dispersion of homeschool duties looking totally different, and unpredictable blood sugars from an autoimmune illness… all at once these have me reeling, feeling overwhelmed in a sea of emotions.

And this good, Christian girl wonders, “Is all my hope truly in Jesus? All of it?

Because I can talk the talk and I can teach the walk. But when not just one or two areas seem upended, but nearly all of them do, how does my walk stay in stride?

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13

The apostle Paul said he had to learn how to be content. He had to learn it. It wasn’t natural or easy. Most things we have to learn aren’t natural or easy at first. They go against the grain and challenge our inhibitions and default settings. What’s amazing to me is that he not only had to learn how to be content in times of lack, but also in times of abundance. We tend to think that living contented in abundance would be easy, but it’s truly a slippery slope if we aren’t fixated on Christ.

This famous verse, “I can do all things…” we love to tack onto hopes and dreams for our lives. But that application has no context here. Paul was trying to communicate that his contentment despite circumstance came through Christ’s gift of strength.

The Determining Factor

When the steps ahead are unclear and the bank account dwindles and the aches and pains and illnesses have no regard for inconvenient timing – do we count everything else as rubbish next to Him? Do we find our joy and reason and purpose and strength and certainty only in Him?

Is Christ my everything? Is He yours?