Living in Holy Uncertainty

Living in Holy Uncertainty

by Cathee Poulsen

Holy uncertainty is the capacity to live with a very loose grip – or no grip at all – on our plans and, more important, on the outcomes of our plans, because our security is rooted in a relational connection to God, not in a false sense of control.   ~John Mark Comer

The last 10 days of September have always been highly charged with significance for me. During this season all these things take place:

  • Rosh Hashanah
  • My anniversary (57 years on the 21st)
  • Autumn Equinox
  • Yom Kippur

While I am not Jewish, because these events are so much a part of the Bible narrative, I have always found them deeply meaningful. I try hard to withdraw a bit from the fray and seclude myself for a few days of journaling, reflection, and listening to God.

But THIS year…

There is no comparison to all the years before. This year we are in a unique place of uncertainty, chaos, darkness, and fast-approaching bedlam. What is God saying in the midst of it all?

What are you hearing?

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

The Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement. This holy season for Hebrew peoples marks the time of year when I ask God for a word or phrase for the coming year. My word for 2021 is “Trust.”

If you’ve never practiced this, I encourage you to start. The Socrates’ quote “An unexamined life is not worth living,” has never been more significant. I believe God has given us this COVID-19 season to recalibrate, re-evaluate, and make changes to prepare us for what comes next.

It’s time for us to let God have his way in what he’s trying to do in our lives. It’s a hands-off time. We have entered a season of the greatest uncertainty most of us have ever faced. Anything you hear about what to expect next is pretty much educated conjecture. Not worthy of your trust.

Our 57th Wedding Anniversary

September 21, 1963

2020

Ed Sheeran’s words ring true for us “’Cause we were just kids when we fell in love, not knowing what it was….” We cry at weddings, not so much for the joy and beauty of the day (always that too), but because those of us who have decades of marriage tucked away know this bride and groom haven’t an iota of knowledge about all they’ll face, and they are mostly ill-prepared.

Each anniversary is more precious than the last in the light of uncertainty. Who knows if we’ll both be here this time next year. At 81 and 77, we don’t kid ourselves about the blessing and favor of God to have allowed us almost six decades together.

We had our rough seasons and our sweet times. Lots of both. Days when I wondered if we’d make it through the madness. Had our lives not been resting in Christ, it would not have been so. Marriage is meant to be a beautiful gift — a place where we figure out life in all its messiness, together.

In the dark at night before we go to sleep, we often reach for each other’s hand and say how grateful we are for it all. I thank God for the man he chose for me and for the blessings of health, family, home, and community of believers. I have lived a rich and meaningful life.

The Year 2020

At the end of 2019, we began to hear all the prophetic projections for the upcoming new year. None of them included what we’ve experienced. Instead, we heard “this will be a year of clarity, 2020 Vision” and various renditions of that idea.

But wait! Hasn’t that been true? Haven’t you gotten a much clearer picture of what’s most important? Or you’ve realized like never before that the life you thought you had under wraps, control of, was nothing more than an illusion. Wouldn’t that qualify as a clearer vision?

In the words of John Mark Comer in his free ebook* released today:

“We can’t control a virus/a nation state/a global economy/natural disasters like fires/etc., so we attempt to emotionally compensate by grasping for something we can control. But what if it’s okay that we’re not in control? What if the uncertainty of life with the new coronavirus could be one of the best things to ever happen to our spiritual formation?”

Most of us, if we’re honest, are recovering control freaks. And the desire to control is deeply attached to our expectations. Of people, our churches/communities, how our children will turn out, our spouses. You name it; most of us have lots of expectations.

But here’s a truth you should write down and gaze at for a month until it’s part of your DNA.

Happiness equals reality minus expectations. If we raise expectations beyond reality’s capacity to meet them, misery follows.

The Election

Truth is, the upcoming election has more Christians stressed out, unable to sleep at night, watching the news or checking Facebook 10x a day, than anything to do with riots, masks, or a virus. Without sounding self-righteous, judgmental  or super-spiritual, I confess that I’m deeply grieved by the behavior of those who name the name of Christ.

Our small group made a commitment in January to devote a year to three things:

  • Being with Jesus
  • Being like Jesus
  • Doing what Jesus would do if he were me

It has saved our wits many times over in this uncertain season. And when it comes to the issue of politics and the election, it seems clear that Jesus would have had one focus only. The focus he asked us to adopt in Matthew 6:33: “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

What does that mean for us right now, exactly? Well, there are only two kingdoms and he’s asked us to choose his kingdom. The one we were transferred into when we decided to live by the power of the indwelling Christ.

The United States of America is not the kingdom of God. So how can we justify the hours and stress and worry spent in anxiety over what will happen in the election? Is that what Jesus would be doing if he were here? And isn’t he here if we are his body?

The End Conclusion

Our big C church in Highlands County, where we live, has spent the last three years every January committed to days of praying and fasting. We call it the Abide Community. It was designed to call us to a decision to practice abiding in Christ.

To abide: continue without fading or being lost: live; dwell. SYNONYMS for abide are continue, remain, survive, last, persist, stay, hold on, live on. ANTONYMS fade, disappear.

As the Body of Christ, we’re called to abide, to dwell in him, and remain there. If Jesus never worried or was stressed, or was even in a hurry, guess what? We don’t need to be either. He is either trustworthy and able to deliver what he promised us — his peace, not as the world gives — or he’s not.

When you look at your life and emotions right now, how does it all line up with that?

Our final goal is found in Coram Deo, a Latin phrase translated “in the presence of God.” It comes from the Christian theology which summarizes the idea of Christians living in the presence of, under the authority of, and to the honor and glory of God. It is our only ark of safety.

In the language of the serenity prayer, “Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.” ~Serenity Prayer

May we all choose to relax into the arms of our Savior who has promised to carry us through the tribulations of this world.

2020 just may turn out to be the most significant year of your life!

Resources

We Don’t Know What’s Going to Happen and That’s Okay John Mark Comer (free e-book)*

Searching for Certainty – Shelly Miller

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Comments

  1. Precious friend, what a great read. I’ll have to save and read it many times to get thru this thick skull?… just what I needed to hear this very moment. God’s always right on time with an inspired message from one of His! Thank you for being so faithful and sharing what He’s shown you. Blessed for your friendship!

  2. Pursue Jesus, and these three things will follow.

    Being with Jesus
    Being like Jesus
    Doing what Jesus would do if he were me

    You will not have to try to do them. No drive, no strive, no I have to. They will come to you.

  3. What great observations Cat! And oh so true.

    I teared up as I identified with shedding tears at weddings because these wide-eyed couples have absolutely no idea what is ahead of them. Such sweet emotions.

    Thank you for encouraging us to focus on what is real, not our emotions or feelings. Lord help us to concentrate on our relationship with you and others.

  4. Lynne Jones Lawler

    Cathee,
    This was powerful and much needed by my spirit.
    Thank you!
    Perhaps that should be our word for 2021…Abide. <3

    Lynnie~

  5. Prayer, Lord Jesus, be ever gentel on my mind.

  6. G. Polly Jordan

    I always stop what I am doing to read your words. You never disappoint. Great comfort, wisdom and advice you have delievered here.

  7. Oh Tif how appropriate this blog is for our time right now. I read this right when we found out our President and first Lady have covid. It made my heart calm and we all know we are in HIS hands and he is in control. Our study right now is “The God We May Not Know” by Dr. David Jeremiah and this week is eternity. Perfect timing as is always the way. Thank you for this and I miss you but knowing we will spend eternity together warms my heart. love you

  8. Kathy God truly speaks through you. We need to see you two more. Thanks for sharing your God given gifts with your friends

  9. Wonderful piece, Kathy. Years ago I studied and helped teach a module on Christian counseling. My assigment was to probe how “unmet expectations” impact us phychologically, emotionally and spiritually. It was an eye-opener to me, and a concept I’ve never forgotten. I stand with you in the hope each of us will trust Him each day, apart from circumstances…from now to Nov. 4 and bey0nd.

  10. Dear Cathee,

    Just read through your blog . Thank you for bringing it into perspective for me. Sometimes I get lost in the craziness of this world. Twenty twenty sure has been a year to rest and reflect. My prayer is for Gods will over the upcoming election. I will do my part but HE is still in control.

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