I recently heard a teaching that talked about Philippians 4 in a way I had never considered. The verse says, “The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” I’ve always thought this meant God’s peace takes over in ways that we don’t understand, which I believe is true. But maybe in addition, the peace Christ has to offer is greatly surpassing in value to our understanding.
I have a lot of questions. Some are helpful and others lead me down bad roads. So far, the question why has not been part of my process. It’s not a sinful question, but for me personally it hasn’t been helpful. What would I do differently if I knew the answer? Nothing. It wouldn’t change my reality. How many times do I achieve lasting peace through my attempts at digging up answers and predicting outcomes? Not often. I was thankful to hear that exploration of this passage because it touches on something bigger—the idol of certainty and our attempts to eliminate all doubt.
Our American culture puts incredible emphasis on research, knowledge, and outcomes. We investigate in order to gain understanding, to fill in the gaps. I’m no different. My favorite forms of entertainment are science and design podcasts. The need to know is genetic in my family. Yours too, I suspect. As a kid my Dad would taunt us kids by saying, “You are on a need-to-know basis, and right now you don’t need to know.” Oh, that drove me nuts.
Certainty has been elevated to idol status, if you ask me. What does the god of certainty tell us? It says that if you don’t have a plan, you better start making one. It says if you are unsure, then you are weak. That little idol has even gotten into our churches. There it says that if you have doubts then you aren’t following Jesus well. It says that you need to know beyond shadow of a doubt. One thing Kendall said to me is, “I only have to be 51% certain. Just certain enough to keep going.” That is a good word as it pertains to our faith, but this idol has another facet. Our planning.
I’ll go ahead and say it. I don’t have a plan. No really. What I’m trying to tell you is I have no idea. I do have a vague idea of some possibilities about what the next few months could look like, but nothing more than that. Don’t even ask me about after Christmas. As a travel nurse, everyone wants to know what your next adventure will be, so once I figure it out, ill let you know.
Wanna know what’s worse than not having a plan? Being indecisive. This is a normal part of grief, they tell me. I must be VERY normal because right now I’m indecisive about everything. I make up my mind and change it five minutes later. I plan something with a friend, then I cancel. I buy iced coffee instead of an Americano, then regret it. I’m every waiter’s worst nightmare. No really, if you’re serving me, be patient and I promise to leave a good tip based on how many times I “adjust” my order. In the end it will be in your favor.
I feel like a vagabond, and not in the romantic adventurous way. I’ve been fighting the lies that tell me that I am not good enough because I don’t have my life in order. Isaiah 58:11 has been my anthem. “The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your desires in scorched places, and make your bones strong; you will be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” I read that verse for the first time a few weeks ago and promptly memorized it. I’ve been saying it out loud in the mornings and afternoons, and in my anxious moments, and in the car, and in the shower. It’s a reminder that Jesus didn’t call us to have a planned life or one that is free of uncertainty, all he said was, “Follow me.”