With Confidence, Not Certainty4:40 AM
You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
I remember when God first gave me the hope to go to Hillsdale. I had little money, no scholarships and discouragement from a bunch of people who seemed intent on tearing down my dreams. I also had parental support, prayers from everyone and a God with a purpose. I knew that whatever happened, God was good. This was such a new dream for me. I didn't need it to live. Oh, but I wanted it...oh, but I wanted God more, and if I had to rip this dream from God's hands in order to get it -- I didn't want it like that.
I don't think I believed absolutely that God wanted me there, therefore He would provide enough money for me to get there. It was more like this: I really wanted to go, I surrendered it to God, and I told myself, "If God wants me to go, He will provide, so I've got no reason to worry."
Still, some nights and days got hard, because sometimes I wanted to go to Hillsdale more than anything. More than I wanted God's will to be done. It created ridiculous amounts of anxiety, bad dreams and confusion about life.
Tim Keller explains sin as anything replacing God -- even good things, like spirituality or morality or wanting to serve. We catch hold of a dream we really want, a desire God gives us, a hope we nourish in our heart of hearts, and we're excited about it because think of all the possibilities that God can use this for His glory!
Eventually, we start getting attached to the dream, the desire, the hope itself, and God gets pushed to the side. He gets replaced with this dream that we really, really want to have. Up starts the anxiety, the what ifs, the how-is-this-possibles, the I-don't-want-to-see-my-dreams-dasheds.
Because who wouldn't be worried with such a shaky foundation of uncertainty? We don't know if a certain dream will come true. And how on earth can we put our faith, our life, our worth, our hope in something that might not even be real? What kind of life is that?
For me, when I start getting anxious about things, I end up crying into my pillow, "Pleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease let me have this dream! Just show me! Give me assurance! Anything to stop the uncertainty!" That doesn't work, because where's the humility and faith in that?
Then it dawns on me: "Oh. He's not answering because He really doesn't want to me to have it. That must be it. Agony!" And so I cry, "Pleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease just tell me that I can't have this dream! Just kill it! Take away this longing! Stop tormenting me with hope!" That doesn't work either, normally because my hope's stronger than my despair and it won't let go of the dream even if it catches a premonition that the dream will soon die.
No. Neither approach works. Uncertainty about what my future looks like is never the problem. We don't need to know the future in order to have a strong faith in God. Indeed, sometimes our desire for knowledge, our desire to "get it right" so that we don't have to be broken and confused, precludes faith altogether.
That's not to say that God doesn't want us to have certainty. Of course He does. But He wants us to have certainty in Him alone. During those times when we just don't know, He wants us to throw up our hands to catch His, crying, "I know nothing but that God is good, His plan is perfect, and He loves me infinitely." That's all the certainty we need to get on in life. That's all we need to know.
That's what quells anxiety -- not certainty about whether or not our dreams will come true but certainty that no matter what happens in life, good or bad, God transcends all pain and disappointment and even earthly joy.
Humbly, softly, quietly and, yes, passionately, we may come to Him with our requests and dreams and the tears and hopes backing them. We lay them at His feet and explain why we think our dreams can best glorify Him. We tell Him the whole story -- maybe even some of the questionable motives or things we're not sure of yet. We tell Him everything. We ask confidently, knowing that He has full capability to carry out even the craziest dream and that He loves us infinitely. But when we leave the throne room, we don't leave with the confidence that our requests will be granted: we leave with the confidence that God hears, that God cares and that God makes the best decisions for our own. We leave with absolute certainty that we cannot mess up the plan of God and that He never makes mistakes.
With a God like that, where's the need of fear and doubt?
And without faith it is impossible to please Him,
for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists
and that He rewards those who seek Him.