Uncertainty, Part of Our Adventure with God

ERWIN RAPHAEL MCMANUS has written a powerful and inspiring book on the joy and challenge of Christian Discipleship. CHASING DAYLIGHT, published by Thomas Nelson, contains important insights on “seizing divine moments” drawn by McManus from the great victory won by Saul and the army of Israel acheived because of the risk of faith taken by Jonathan and his armor-bearer. The passage quoted below is from Chapter 3, UNCERTAINTY, Know You Don’t Know.


An era of peace and stability has caused us to make wrong conclusions about what the human spirit needs. You would think that what we need is certainty, the promise that everything is going to be all right, the guarantee that we’ll be safe. While I, like anyone else, would love to know that this is the life that God would choose to give to my family and me, the security that we often seek is not necessary to living life to the fullest. Sometimes it can actually become the greatest deterrent to seizing divine moments.

Jonathan was certain about some things, and at the same time he was able and willing to operate in the realm of uncertainty. He called out his armor-bearer and said, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf.” You gotta love that. This is what he was saying in plain English, “Let’s go and pick a fight. Maybe God will help.”

Jonathan understood that not everything was guaranteed, that you don’t wait until the money is in the bank. There are some things that you can know and some things that you will not know. He went on to say, “Nothing can hinder God from saving, whether by many or by few.”

He had such a clear perspective on reality. What he knew for certain was that God was powerful enough to get the job done, that it didn’t matter if it was two of them against a thousand Philistines. His father’s apprehension to go to war with six hundred soldiers and only two weapons-that’s right, two swords-was reasonable (THE POMEGRANATE DILEMMA), but not enough to excuse neglecting the purpose of God. And so if it was only Jonathan and his armor-bearer and only Jonathan with a sword, he would still move in line with God’s mission for them.

God had promised Israel deliverance from the oppressive hand of the Philistines, and the way He would do, it was by raising up an army of men who would trust in God and go to war against the Philistines. Jonathan was clear about one thing, he knew for certain that nothing could keep the Lord from saving, and God could use a lot of people or only a few people. The odds are irrelevant to God.

Jonathan had an unwavering confidence in God’s capacity. He had absolute trust in God’s character...That He was moving in line with God’s purpose was the only certainty he needed. He didn’t presume upon the fact that God can be trusted by trusting Him for things He never promised. He understood that to move with God is to accept a life full of uncertainties. The Jonathan Factor is expressed when we have absolute confidence in God in the midst of uncertainty and are willing to move with God even without a guarantee of personal success.

Several years ago I was lecturing at a seminary, and when I finished, a young student shared with me that she had planned to go to the Northwest to help start a new church. She continued to explain that in the process she had discovered it was not the will of God. I asked her how she determined that, and she said, “The money never came through.” I asked her who told her that lack of finances was proof that God was not in it. She said her pastor and her parents. They said that if God wanted her to go, everything would be provided before she left.

Our wealth and abundance of human resources have positioned us to accept a paradigm that provision precedes vision. This has been the foundation of building no-risk faith.  This is a tragedy when part of the adventure is the discovery that vision always precedes provision. I know that this may be a real stretch, but it is always right to do what’s right, even if it turns out wrong. There are times God calls us to do the right thing, knowing that others will respond in the wrong way. Jesus did the right thing when He left Gethsemane where he struggled to embrace the Father’s will and began a journey that would lead to the cross. The consequence to Him was severe....We should not be surprised that a lifelong journey with God might bring us suffering and hardship. If the Cross teaches us anything. it teaches us that sometimes God comes through after we’ve been killed.

Though Jonathan did not die when he engaged the Philistines, there is no principle that says everyone who does God’s will lives-at least on this earth...If we are going to seize divine moments, we must accept the reality that we have no control over many things. We have no control over when or how we die. We must instead take responsibility for what we do have control over-how we choose to live.

Jonathan wasn’t choosing to die, but he was choosing how he would live. He left the consequences of his actions in the hands of God. He chose to do what he knew was right...God was doing something in history, and Jonathan gave his life to it. This realm of uncertainty is the place of miracles. Sometimes the miracle is wrapped around the person we become, the courage and nobility expressed through a life well lived.

A person’s life does not require some extraordinary event to distinguish it. A life well lived can be equally inspiring and its contribution also great. Sometimes that transformation is best seen through failure, defeat, or even death. Other times the miracle is wrapped around how God comes through in the midst of all that uncertainty.

When you move with God, He always shows up. It’s just difficult to predict what He will do or how He will do it. If you wait for guarantees, the only thing that will be guaranteed is that you will miss endless divine opportunities-that you can know for certain.

Quoted from Chasing Daylight by Erwin Raphael McManus

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