I am nothing if not predictable. I like to eat the same kind of food, wear the same kind of clothes and stick to my schedule. Some people might even say I am boring at this stage in life. There is something, however, in the regular rhythms and routines of life that define us all. For some it is the consistent running that keeps them in great shape and yet requires special attention to the various muscles that ache and strain. For others it is a garden that is tended with great care all year round, producing wonderful fruits and vegetables that are used in numerous home cooked meals. For me, reading and writing are now so engrained that you can find me waiting for my wife outside a store with a book in my hand or in an airport thinking of a story idea and writing down the main plot points.
The need for predictability is so engrained into the human psyche, that any hint of uncertainty can derail even the economy of the largest country in the world. Wall Street hates unpredictability and will react to rumors with lightning speed. Fortunes are made and lost on the back of hearsay and possibilities of problems to come. I am not sure how traders have the stomach for that kind of volatility in their day to day vocation.
As I am reading the gospels again at the beginning of this year, one thing has become abundantly clear. Jesus never promised a life of ease and certainty. If anything he promised his disciples a life of suffering, persecution and challenges simply because they chose to follow him. Tradition tells us that all of them, except John, ended life as martyrs for the faith – some in really horrific ways. The only thing they knew for sure was that He would never leave them or forsake them and that was enough.
I love Matthew 6:26, where Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” While I can believe this truth intellectually, I am not sure how well I live this out in my day to day existence. Trusting God when I have no idea what is coming next can be a nerve wracking experience. It can also, however, be the most soul satisfying way to live. In this same passage, Jesus also says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
It is interesting how many times in the Bible, God tells people to do things without showing them the outcome. Abraham was called to leave the land of his fathers and go to a land that the Lord would show him. While God did promise him that He would make a great people from his lineage, Abraham did not live long enough to see to the true fulfillment of this. Moses was called to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt with no idea how God would provide. He could not have predicted the provision of manna when he was still wondering about the Red Sea. Gideon was sure he knew what God wanted Him to do and have even prepared well in advance and had the resources he thought he needed. Despite this, God took away the human resources and said simply – Trust Me.
So this week, I headed out to Hershey to meet with other Christian retailers and publishers and it was a beautiful day with no hint of what was to come. Even as we set up our booth, the weather forecasters were predicting a fairly light snow for the following day. Somehow, though, things began to develop throughout the day and by the evening a major storm was clearly on way and my plans had to change. Once again, I had to surrender my agenda to the one who controls the wind and the waves. It seems like that is what God is saying to me more and more these days. While it is fine to plan and prepare, be ready to surrender those plans at a moment’s notice for an adventure that He has in store. He does not promise a path without pain, but He does promise to walk that path with me day by day. For me that has to be enough because He is God and He is faithful to His word.