‘Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:8

Life has thrown me a few curve balls and sometimes it’s hard to know what the next steps in God’s mission should be. I get confused! Sometimes, I confess, it’s hard to stay motivated in order to take any steps at all, but I know that I must.

Life is often uncertain and unpredictable. We may face major questions about our health, the health or wellbeing of our loved ones, our homes, our livelihoods, our finances or our church. The certainty is that we cannot avoid uncertainty in this life. We can however respond to it in a way that honours Christ.

Searching For Clarity

The ethicist John Kavanaugh tells of a time in his life when he was searching for direction regarding his future. He left the United States and went to Calcutta to work for three months at the house of the dying”.  The first morning there, he met Mother Teresa.  She asked, “And what can I do for you?’  Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him.

“What do you want me to pray for?” she asked.  He responded by explaining that he had come thousands of miles to find direction: “Pray that I have clarity.”

She said firmly, “No, I will not do that.”  When asked why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.”  Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for.  She laughed and said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust.  So I will pray that you trust God.”
Clarity vs. Trust

There is something in all of us that wants clarity.  It is often an expression of our insecurities.  We would rather seek to understand the complexities of the road ahead than seek to become better acquainted with the wonder of God’s character.  Clarity can sometimes be spiritually counterproductive. It short-changes trust, a life of faith and a moment-by-moment dependence on God. Clarity could even become an idol that replaces real trust in God.

In Hebrews 11, we are reminded that trust is strongest when clarity is dim. Noah built an ark whilst waiting 120 years for a deluge.  Sarah was told to trust God for a child in her old age with no comprehension of how it could possibly happen.  The innocent Joseph waited in prison for 2 long years with no sense of when or if he might be released. Abraham went out, “not knowing where he was going”, and then thought he might have to sacrifice his own son without any clarity as to why.  There are many such stories, but they all demonstrate that faith flourishes only when we trust God more than we trust in our need for clarity.

We often want to “chart the course”, but the Bible tells us to walk in the Spirit.  We insist on a strategic plan.  Jesus says, “Follow me.”  We want all the answers.  The Lord tells us to trust Him, because of what we know to be true about His character.

Pray for Faith To Seek & Follow God’s Lead

Do you feel that you are in a fog? Have you been there far too long? Does the present moment feel shaky while the future is unclear? We need to remember that He is God and that He rewards those who seek after Him (usually without clarity).  Looking behind, we are familiar with His faithfulness and goodness, even when we did not see it at the time.  God’s character has not changed. We can still trust Him, even though the fog may be dense. In God’s strength, we need to keep moving forward, but as we step out in God’s mission, we should do so with our hand placed firmly in the hand of the one who knows exactly where we are going – the hand of Jesus Christ! Sometimes, He might have to drag us, but we can be assured that He is not going to let go!

Perhaps it is time to pray that we will search less for clarity and more for the character of God because…..

‘Faith, not certainty, is the most important ingredient to a life pleasing to God’ (Heb.11:6).

Lindsay Caplen

Lindsay works for the West of England Baptist Association, pastorally supporting and equipping churches and ministers and developing missional networks in the region. She also works for the Church Team (formerly ‘Imagine’) at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.