Not that long ago we celebrated our friend’s 40th birthday. We were expected home at a certain time, of course to relieve our baby-sitter from their baby-sitting duties. We had an hour and a half worth of travel and sadly we were just 22 minutes from arriving home when we were completely stopped on the highway. It became evident that an accident had occurred only moments ahead of us.
We had communicated with our friend who was looking after our children that this had happened but surely we wouldn’t be held up for too long, hoping and praying that the accident wasn’t bad. However, we ended up being at a stand-still for two and a half hours. We arrived home three hours after our expected arrival, it was the early hours of the next day. We were very sorry to our friend who had helped watch our kids. But as we were parked at a stand-still on the highway that night, not able to get home to our kids was a sickening feeling. The fear of the unknown in the lateness of the night was gripping. I just wanted to be home safe with our children.
We all like the familiar, naturally, most gravitate towards the familiar. We gravitate towards what is known. And yet there really hasn’t been all that much that’s been familiar to this year. Some people enjoy the risks, but this isn’t certainly common to all. Others want to have control. And yet when we find ourselves facing the unknown, it really is like standing between what was and what is yet to come.
Hebrews chapter 11, verse 8 (NIV) says, ‘By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.’
Hebrews chapter 11, verse 11 (NIV) says, ‘And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.’
No wonder more people have turned to prayer this year than in recent times – because there is more unknown in the world today and the things we once found assuredness in aren’t so certain.
Psalm chapter 23, verse 4 (NIV) says, ‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.’
Acceptance of the unknown means to recognise that the unknown is a little bit scary, that it is somewhat terrifying. It definitely feels uncomfortable, because it is. However, this is where we can come to appreciate God’s comfort in a new way too. We were never supposed to do any of this on our own.
Feel the fear and do it anyway
Psalm chapter 23, verse 4 (NIV) says, ‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil.’
I’m sure when David is writing this Psalm he wasn’t necessary feeling no evil but yet even in spite of his feelings he would decide to fear no evil.
Or perhaps like the old saying – feel the fear and do it anyway. Even in the unknown sometimes you’re better off just having a go. Which means taking the road less travelled, thinking that you’d rather die trying then die wondering - what if. Be obedient to God’s call despite the lack of certainty.
Hope in the unknown
There is hope in the unknown because we know the giver of hope. The unfamiliar of the unknown allows us to dream, to create again. There is space, room to breathe. The lack of control forces us to hopefully place our trust in Him again.
Matthew chapter 22, verse 37 (NIV): Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Despite whatever feelings and emotions are surrounding unknown areas of our lives right now we can decide to keep loving God with all of our heart, soul and mind as best we can. I believe this is all that Jesus is asking of us today.
Elise Pappas is a Pastor and together with her husband pastor a church on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. They have a son, Jonathan and a daughter, Sophie. Elise is a former clinical drug trial research coordinator and business owner. She writes about life and ministry experiences.