Maybe you’ve had a similar experience to this-you stand at a crossroads in life, and you want to make the wisest choice. So you go out to the woods, or wherever you go to think, and you say to God, “I have two choices here. And I’m not coming out of these trees until you tell me which way to go.” So you sit. As the sun goes down, you hear nothing.
What are you supposed to do with that?
I am beginning to believe that there are very few things in life that we can be absolutely certain of; that at best, most of our decisions have to have the honest tagline associated with them: “I’m pretty sure this is what God wants me to do.” And to take it a step further, I believe God wants it to be that way.
Now I think it should be said that in these decisions, the two options ahead of you aren’t things like, “Should I go pray for an hour or should I rob the local bank?” I’m certain there is certainty in that decision, and I think I can say with confidence that God doesn’t want you to become a career criminal. But what about the choice between 2 jobs, to take a promotion or not, to move to this city or that, or to choose one college over the other? Those decisions aren’t so cut and dry.
We tend to believe that God wants us to be absolutely certain of His will, to charge headlong our decisions absolutely convinced this is the right thing to do. While that would be nice, it’s not real-life. And maybe, just maybe, it’s not even supposed to be.
Wait a minute. Doesn’t that contradict the words of Hebrews 11, the classic definition of faith that is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see?” I don’t think so, mainly because all of the people the writer of Hebrews uses to illustrate his point are people that were convinced of some things and not the others. They were convinced God was with them. They were convinced they would have reward in heaven. They were convinced of the eternal reality of their Lord. In short, they were sure of God.
As Mark Batterson puts it in his Threads study, Chase the Lion, there needs to be both a degree of certainty and uncertainty in our spiritual lives. We can be convinced of the reality of Jesus Christ and yet be pretty sure about our career choice. We can be certain about the cross and be reasonable confident about our relationships. In fact, the sureness of God is what enables us to move forward, regardless of our degree of uncertainty.
That forward motion is a better picture of what biblical faith looks like. The word “believe” has a much different connotation in Hebrew than in Greek. In Greek and English, the word means intellectually assenting to a particular set of facts. But in Hebrew, the word can also be translated as “steadfastness.” It’s the same word used in Exodus 17 when Moses raised his hands all day long to enable the Israelites to win a key battle. From that we take that in Hebrew, believing is more about moving forward, action, than it is about an intellectual assent or knowledge.
What does all this mean? To me, it means that because I am sure of God, I have the ability to make decisions. I can move forward steadfastly because I am trusting in God more than in my ability to be sure. It means I can take risks. It means I can trust the wisdom of God more than my own wisdom to choose rightly. It means, I guess, that I can have faith.
And maybe that’s why God doesn’t want certainty in our lives. If we were completely certain about everything, doesn’t that eliminate the need for faith at all? Doesn’t it remove the need for us to be in constant, intimate communication with God? Doesn’t it decrease our dependence on Him? I think it does.
So I’m tired of second-guessing my decisions, worrying about whether I’ve missed the plan of God. I think maybe God is tired of it, too. And maybe, just maybe, what He still wants from me, and from you, as always, is not certainty-it’s faith.