Certainty is a prized commodity. I think I can say with some certainty (lol) that we would appreciate nothing more than to be certain that the events in our life are going to play out exactly how they are supposed to. And that presupposition is where there are two fundamental issues in our thinking. One is the irony that suspense is essentially the key characteristic most people like in any genre of literature or film, yet we cannot stand suspense in our own life. And two we would like to be sovereign over the way things play out.
The first is really the secondary issue although in our postmodern era (thanks Malcolm Muggeridge Christ and the Media) we have developed into some form of a life imitating art. The second is the greater
issue problem (sin?). A rushing ocean of the will attempting to be sovereign while masquerading as a sea of tranquility. There is nothing close to tranquility when we are trying to be in control. We like certainty because it removes any notion of the reality of a fallen world around us, in us, through us, because of us…
JD Greear’s Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart discusses this issue of assurance in chapter 2. His book is the thrust of this series on Hold To Truth entitled The One Fix (see part 1 here.) Experience will lead you in circles to draw the same conclusion Solomon came to: reverence of God. [I can feel Dr. Stalworth working on his existential response.]
Greear states “you’ll never give up your life in radical obedience until you are radically assured of His of His radical commitment to you.” He was a bit radical in his use of the word but essentially he’s on to something. We like assurance and encouragement but until we are most satisfied with the One who formed us it will be difficult. From every sense of what scripture tells us and from the implications of the scriptures it appears to be clear that God wants us to be assured that He cares about us. Otherwise He could have created us, let us fall, redeemed us and not told us that any of it had already happened. The struggle we have is the terms and means by which He explains it. God will assure us, encourage us, and stretch us as He chooses. I think it is because we might worship the means of assurance and not the One providing it. Or miss the Presence because we like the presents too much.
There is one fix for having certainty and it is our Father. And Our Father provides assurance on His terms. This is where we find our difficulty because it messes with our frail sovereignty… we want to snap our fingers and say “certainty!” and a band rolls in with a parade of encouragement, love, gifts, a new car, job, or cans of spam. But God is wise right? He does just enough to keep things in the right perspective. To much certainty in anything is running into the danger of being worshipped.
It would be difficult to be assured of a God you have not seen if He had not walked Adam and Eve out of the garden (and her name is still ‘the mother of all living.’) It would be difficult to be assured of the long haul if it were not for the Israelites who never lost there name in all their disobedience and wandering. It would be difficult to have assurance to wait after praying if God hadn’t shown Daniel that the message was on the way. It would be difficult to have assurance in God’s silence but after about 300 years He shows up in the flesh. We would be less assured of His love if Jesus had not stopped along the way to teach, break bread, heal, have a few conversations…on the way to a cross to die. And more recently God sends little notes of assurances through others at just the right time. A text message out of the blue. A card that has been in possession for a day or so but opened at just the right time to remind you that ‘Gratitude’ is the motivation for what you are doing [thank God for the cheerleaders in life.] He sends the right things at the right time to point you back to Him that He is The One Fix. All the subtle reminders are brief but they are shouting to us exactly what is necessary: God really does love us.
I admit that seeing the rest of the chaos of life for what it really is can be cumbersome. This is my struggle. You want to be useful to God and a blessing to others especially those you know and it seems like you are not. I find great difficulty in this. But there is an answer I believe.
To Be Continued…