There’s an old familiar saying that nothing is certain except for death and taxes. Well one more certainty in this current life is its great uncertainty.
We thought certain the year of 2020 would be one of vision. Instead, we failed to see the direction it would actually take. After the War Between the States, the United States set its sights on the West. They were confident about their progression westward but very uncertain concerning how difficult it would actually be. It seems the largest single threat to our security is the volatility when viewing our future. It’s difficult to leap forward when we’re not sure where we might land. We’re not picking a lane because we’re not sure how rough the road ahead may be. So society drives in the middle of the road, ever watching for a better lane to open up. Uncertainty has created an unhealthy cautiousness and has weakened our level of commitment.
I love the Old Testament because of its story line and its foundation for truth. Its history is measurable, therefore it is certain. Great men and women of God faced the unknown with every step but quickly learned their Heavenly Father was the author and finisher of their faith. Abraham was called out of his home to follow a God he barely knew and couldn’t see. He believed in a promise of great posterity, yet he had no children, and his wife was barren. Even as he grew into an old man, he followed the voice of God faithfully. When his promise seemed like only a dream, he served the God he couldn’t see yet knew very well. When God finally gave them their promised child, Abraham was 100 years old. His prime had long since left him, his eyesight dimmed and his strength diminished yet his faith was encouraged. He was promised millions of offspring, but he held only one. He picked a lane and stayed in it, even when he couldn’t see the road. Later he was called by God to sacrifice that one child. He chose to obey the Lord rather than a future without his presence. After all, God was about to launch the greatest nation on earth through this one man. God had to show him and his forever offspring that he was the one. God saved him in the 11th hour with a substitute sacrifice, but, nevertheless, he walked in faith where he couldn’t see physically yet could only envision through the eyes of faith.
Joseph was thrown into a dry well, sold into slavery, and left for dead in a foreign prison, but he never stopped seeing the unseen. I’m sure depression and fear gripped him at the thought of never returning home again or seeing his parents and family. Not knowing your future or being in control of your own next steps would lend to a spirit of “giving up,” but Joseph remained faithful to God’s plan for his life rather than his own. He rose to a high place of authority in Egypt. He saved the land and saved his people.
Elijah stood before hundreds of pagan priests and the people and made one of the boldest wagers in recorded history. He challenged them to a duel of deities. In a season of drought, they would put their God or gods to the test - two sacrifices, one showdown, and hundreds on hand to view the outcome. Call on their God and whichever showed up would be the one and only true God. The one that showed up in fire would be “the God” once and for all. Elijah couldn’t see the future or change its course. He could only pray to the Lord he knew to only do what he knew he could only do. The situation was so extreme, it was clear the loser would be put to death. His very life was wrapped in one bold test of faith. He had to trust the uncertainty of the future to the only one capable of writing it. After hours of crying out to a fake god that would never be able to hear or respond, the pagan team took a break. Their god was silent. His voice and influence had been muted. Now it was Elijah’s turn. I’m sure these unsuspecting priests had no idea they were about to witness one of the last things they would ever see in this life. Elijah prayed a short prayer, and God answered promptly and swiftly with fire from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. God had won, people were saved, and the evil priests were executed. Elijah had trusted his future to the hands of God. But what if God had not showed that day? What if he had refused to be placed into a wager by man? That was the uncertain risk Elijah was willing to take. People were being led away like lambs to a slaughter with every passing day. Elijah was willing to risk his life to save the future of his people.
The uncertainty of tomorrow can be as much a blessing as it is a heaviness. If we knew the details of what lies ahead, we probably would elect to go another way or to simply refuse. God has a way of veiling us from the road ahead. It’s not always good to know all the details. He knows we would say “no,” so uncertainty keeps us protected. I guess you could say we remain more faithful to what we can’t see than what we can. We live in a world surrounded by great levels of uncertainty. Is it safe to go out? Will there be a vaccine? Who will be the next in quarantine? There will always be the mystery of tomorrow; we just have to hold tightly to the only one who has all the answers, and his name is Jesus. He has given us scriptural proof from Old Testament to New of his relentless love and devotion to those he calls his own. He’s not calling you to prove him, he’s simply calling you to trust him, and that is certain.
Let’s trust him together at Christpoint Church this Sunday, at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. We’re always on the square in Sparta, and we’re real people, living real lives, serving a real God. Welcome home.