How important is certainty? Or, is there a better way to understand the inevitability of uncertainty? My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day.
This past Friday I spent over an hour of my time just going over the calendar for this week. As I keep a calendar on my computer I am able to put each task that I am aware of in a time slot Monday through Friday. The tasks are all color coded, so job tasks are brown, telephone calls are purple, meetings are green, appointments are red, and so on. I estimate how much time each item will take, how long meetings will last, even how long appointments might last. The day begins at a specific time on the calendar and I try to end it by a similar time each day. There are slots for study breaks, lunch and so on. With so much to schedule it’s not surprising that it takes over an hour just to put it all down on my digital calendar. I move tasks around between days based on where I feel there might be some untimely interruptions. There’s a fly in the ointment nonetheless. Just push two or three unknown tasks, appointments or meetings into the calendar and everything begins to fall foward just like a line of dominos. Even worse, should just one task take 50% longer to complete, I am forced to kick the can down the road again. Bringing certainty to what is innately uncertain has its flaws no doubt.
How important is certainty? If we put together schedules with the thought that these must be followed, is that healthy? Or, is there a better way to understand the inevitability of uncertainty? Perhaps uncertainty itself has its place.
Here’s a story. A little old man was searching everywhere for his lost wrist watch. He went through every drawer in the house, but still no watch. Finally he remembered something that made him smile. “Aha,” he said to himself. “I think I know where that watch is. I have this faint recollection that it’s in the middle drawer of my desk in the den.” So, down the stairs he went to the den, opened the drawer, but no wristwatch. Yet, his memory hadn’t failed him. He had seen a watch there. His old pocket watch was in the drawer. His wife had found it on the mantel and wound it for him. There is was ticking away, so he fetched it out of the drawer and put it in his pocket with satisfaction. Now he would have the time with him after all. Later in the day, as he pulled a pair of socks out of his dresser drawer, lo and behold his wristwatch lay under his socks. Pulling out his pocket watch as well, he held both timepieces in his hands. He muttered to himself, “With one watch I was certain of the time. With two watches now I’m not sure, but I’m happy.” (This Passing Day, 2017)
I think it’s natural to feel that being uncertain is a bad thing. What would life be like if we had our car at the repair shop and didn’t feel certain that it would be properly repaired? When we make a purchase we want to be certain of quality, pricing and service. That only makes sense. If we went though life always expecting less than the value of what we’re investing, whether that be our time or money, life could become wasteful, consumed with endless do-overs and frustration. I think the point here is how we view certainty, however. Certainty is a tool God gives us to manage our lives with some degree of comfort. Otherwise we would be no better than an animal, never knowing what terrible catastrophe awaited us with the dawn. Here’s the key, though. Certainty insures nothing. The old adage “man proposes, God disposes” comes into play here. You and I can approach life in one of two ways. We can try to be certain of what God has in store for us each day and often be disappointed; or we can be filled with joy over the prospect that something we hadn’t expected will by God’s grace happen. Planning out our life is fine as long as we know that even in uncertain times we can be happy.
We pray. Thank you Lord for graciously taking care of our lives without involving us in every small detail of what will happen to us today, tomorrow or the day after that. Forgive us Lord, when we seek certainty knowing that you have everything under control and really don’t need our help in planning out how our lives will specifically play out. We look forward to today and tomorrow knowing that you’ve got it and all we need to do is use the tools you give us to put our time in order, prepared for you to bless it with you grace. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!
Therefore my friend, Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry for itself; each day has enough trouble of its own. This Passing Day. (Matt 6:34)
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