This morning, as I opened the garage door to head to work, the fog swirled in, beckoning me with its misty tendrils. It was still foggy when I drove home, the sun just barely visible through the cloud layers.
In my little corner of the Pacific Northwest, it can be quite foggy. Some complain about the disorienting gloominess. And yet, I find beauty in the softness fog brings to the hard lines of trees on the horizon. I appreciate the quality of light and muted pastel colors. Even though my visibility is hampered, I find mysterious beauty in the fog’s ambiguity.
We’re living in a time of ambiguity, and the constant state of flux is exhausting. Christians have an added layer of uncertainty. We know Jesus is coming back, but don’t know when. Many thought His coming would certainly happen nearly 180 years ago, yet we still wait.
Embracing ambiguity is a skill few possess today. As humans, we try to boil everything down to concrete details. Take our theology, for example. At some level, we've confined God to a book we can carry around. Or, consider how we’ve reduced the Infinite to fit on a sticker on the back of our cars.
But can we truly define God this way? What if, instead of trying to explain the unexplainable, we try to imagine all the wondrous beauty hidden in the endless folds of eternity? What if we give ourselves permission to live in complexity? What if we let go of anxiety and fear to be open to another’s viewpoint?
Whether clarity is within our control or not, we can learn to approach uncertainty, and potentially even embrace it. Despite our tendency to anxiously anticipate what’s coming, perhaps there is an opportunity to appreciate the unknown and discover something beautiful along the way. Here are five ways I believe we can thrive in uncertain times:
- Be curious. Curiosity helps us stay informed. It also helps motivate us and keep us interested in the experiences of others. It keeps us from being frozen or overwhelmed by uncertainty.
- Be engaged. It often feels safer to retreat from uncomfortable conversations and situations. And, yes, taking a “time out” can be healthy in the short term. But remaining in a constant state of avoidance inevitably means we become irrelevant and miss the opportunity to share Jesus.
- Be active. Engagement is married to action. Find ways to be involved in the local community. Look for ways to collaborate and partner with neighbors for the good of our communities.
- Be balanced. Balance action with patience. Sometimes ambiguity can be so disorienting, we rush to decisions or take premature action. Listen first to understand, then respond humbly, thoughtfully and always with love.
- Be honest. It's easy to delude ourselves, so it's important to check our focus. Are we spending time looking at things that will take our focus off Jesus and loving others?
Despite the uncertainty of our world, I believe one thing is certain. God is love. We can rest in the knowledge that one day our faith will lead us through the fog to our long-awaited home where we will know Him fully, and where we will be fully known.
"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known" (1 Cor. 13:12, ESV).