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The Graciousness of Uncertainty

As a financial planner, certainty is something that is often sought but rarely achieved.  “Do I have enough to retire?” “Is the stock market about to drop?” “If I lend money to my brother-in-law will I end up regretting it (you may not be so uncertain on this one!)?”

I want to give folks certainty about their path forward, but often times I can’t.  Not because our software is defunct, but because life is set up to be uncertain at best.  Our best laid plans are often no more predictable than the 10-day weather report on my phone.  

My wife’s been reading Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest, and came across the devotional “The Graciousness of Uncertainty” on April 29th’s daily read.  We’ve been dealing with a lot of uncertainties of our own lately, and the title immediately grabbed our attention.  Chambers challenges us with the following:

Naturally, we are inclined to be so mathematical and calculating that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing.  We imagine that we have to reach some end, but that is not the nature of spiritual life.  The nature of spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty, consequently we do not make our nests anywhere….

Certainty is the mark of the common-sense life: gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life.  To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, we do not know what a day may bring forth.  This is generally said with a sigh of sadness, it should be rather an expression of breathless expectation.  We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God….We are not uncertain of God, but uncertain of what He is going to do next….Life is full of spontaneous,  joyful uncertainty and expectancy.

I love the words, “It should be rather an expression of breathless expectation.”  I’m becoming convinced that certainty is something that we don’t actually want, as it deadens our need for faith as well as sense of adventure.  Uncertainty gives God room to show up however He decides to show up, not how we decide He should. 

So what do we do with all of that?  Does it make financial planning pointless, or perhaps even wrong?  By no means!  As stewards, we should have intentional direction about where we’re headed and the decisions we’re making with our resources.  But our hope shifts entirely away from a projection of financial independence and into a posture of financial dependence.  Not because everything has to go just right in order for us to not run out of money, but because we embrace the unpredictable nature of our future. 

This gives us freedom.  Freedom from having to stockpile so many resources that we’ve eliminated all possible negative outcomes.  Freedom from having an entire game plan mapped out for the next decade of life.  Freedom from making our balance sheet an idol or scoreboard. 

So join with me in a life “full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy”.  Blessings on the journey!