FMF: Guess

Please forgive me for a not-so-edifying ramble.

When I first read Kate’s post for this week’s prompt, ‘Guess’, I fully identified with her reflection on asking the Lord for direction and not being able to see His answers. Her comparison with that discerning to feel a bit like guess-work. I thought that her blog was enough said on the matter, because personally I was right in that ‘no-man’s land’ of not seeing the direction at all, for certain issues.

And I am still there, still feeling like I am having to guess what God’s will for me is.

People say that I must listen for His still, small voice;

that I will find answers in the Scriptures;

that God’s perfect peace will be my guide;

that if I fast and pray…

And I have probably said the same thing!

But, if I am stuck now, do I conclude that I am doing it wrong? That my heart is wrong? That this sheep does not know her Shepherd’s voice? That sin has blocked me from hearing His voice?

Does God want me to ‘follow the mind of my heart’? Or to take advice from Christian people? Does He want me to be patient and spend more time seeking the answer?

I know that he who seeks finds.

Or has He told me clearly already and I don’t like the answer?

Does God’s answer take me where I have no intention of going, nor desire to go?

I do not trust my own heart, it is deceitful above all things.

And I have asked advice from spirit-filled friends and their opinions and advice has been varied and contradictory, though I now have even more options in what feels like a multiple choice exam! And I have never been good at multiple-choice. I have painful memories of French and German listening comprehension exams, where in each choice of four options I consistently guessed wrong. The odds of that were even remarkable!

Maybe I am impatient to know the answers, when it is not time for me to know.

Maybe I am trying so hard to listen, that I have become blind and deaf.

Does the Lord really want me to guess His will?

Does He trust me to guess?

Does He know that I already know His Will and know that in time I will say ‘yes’ to Him and do that ridiculous sounding thing!

I am sharing this only because some of you may relate to these feelings. It does not feel like an encouraging or edifying post, but it is an expression of the mess some of us might sometimes grapple with. This someone does, anyway.

I imagine in a few months, or days, or years (God only knows), I will look back on this and see God’s path and wisdom as clear as the moon on a cloudless night, as so often happens.

There is always such profound insight in hindsight.

Meanwhile we grapple.

Oh me of little faith!

What are you looking for?

What are you looking for? Do you know? Do you know what you want? What you believe? Do you know what is good and bad? What is true and right, or wrong? Does it change from day to day?

Don’t worry, I’m not going to test or trick you.

I was thinking about questioning and doubt. About its presence, its bad reputation and its value. How does doubt and questioning make you feel?

I like to be safe and to be right and sure. Don’t you? So unknowing, doubt, insecurity – such shifting sands make us feel out of control, vulnerable, insecure – and to avoid this we seek information to bolster our understanding… to know, to be certain… and for our faith – in whatever it may be – to be unswerving and strong. This may be about the basic routines of our day, for example, or our health report, our whereabouts and location when on the move, our plans and preparations for a big event, our political persuasions and support come polling day, our financial safety-nets for retirement, maybe actual insurance policies and guarantees and often our meta-physical persuasions or beliefs and our raison d’etre.

We want assurance, insurance and reassurance again.

I think of adventure quests and heroes in story-books and on film – dangerous quests to find truth, or treasure and for valour and honour – life threatening, self-sacrificing endurance, seeking, for that which is right and true. The stuff that makes heroes. The big questions – the meaning of life and all that. It seems to be part of the heroic side of our nature – to seek wisdom, seek truth at whatever the cost. The Bible is full of such wisdom too – exhortations to seek and find the lost coin, the lost sheep, the ‘pearl of great price’, which cost him all he had. To ‘Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.’  (PROVERBS 4:7) And Solomon’s asking for just wisdom over every other treasure… and so many other examples. Wisdom and truth are seen as great treasure.

When my children were young, they would frequently complain that they had lost something important and had ‘searched everywhere’! I would smile and ask them to look again and this time to actually take their hands out of their pockets and use them to look underneath the piles of stuff!

Because if it were visible, they wouldn’t have lost it!

To seek knowledge, understanding and truth often means to go digging! It means to turn everything upside down, turn it out, get our hands dirty… it means to disrupt our comfort, camp for a while in unknowing, in the unfamiliar and in doubt. It means ‘living from a suitcase’ in questioning and a vulnerable state of being unsure, not at home and not in control. We may have to disrupt and abandon all else… Sometimes it means to admit to ‘not know’ something and occasionally it means to discover that we were partially or fully misinformed, or misunderstood, and to humbly learn…

But we are promised that if we keep on seeking we will find; if we keep on knocking, the door will be opened; and if we keep on asking, we will be answered. We are promised that if we seek Him first, then He will be found and all other things will be given to us as well. Our needs will be met. It is a constant process that we will not come to the end of in this life on earth, and maybe it will continue throughout eternity. I do hope so!

But beware. Be humble. If we seek the truth, we must be prepared to adapt, readjust, enlarge our tent and maybe change our mind. There will be change. When we find what was lost, or find revelation and truth and wisdom, we are forever changed! We have to change, for growth is change. We have to be prepared to expand our limited thinking if we want to seek truth. New wine goes in new wine-skins.

Some say “What is truth?” They say that there are many truths – for each of us, our own truth. Some say that we find what we are looking for, and that we each find something different. Some say there is but one truth. Jesus says that He is “the way, the truth and the life”. Whatever the truth is, we are encouraged to seek it. It is not something to fear, but it is something to make space for, to humble ourselves to receive. For His ways are not our ways. His ways are higher and above and beyond all we could ever fathom or imagine… But trust Him. Life is constant growth and constant change. We will never know everything in this short life on earth, but we should not be afraid to learn new things.

We are invited to seek wisdom, to seek understanding, to seek growth, truth and life.

What an adventure!