A few weeks ago at church, a friend came up to me and, as a conversation starter, asked me what I knew. I had to laugh, because as of late, I’ve been contemplating about how life is strange, in that, when you’re young, it feels as though you know a lot. But the older you get, you start to realize just how big the world is, and how little you know about it. You also start to realize that most of what you’ve attempted in your life wasn’t a result of knowing anything for certain so much as it was a gigantic leap of faith. The new job, the new baby, the new house, the new (to you) car. All a leap of faith, even if deep down, you smugly thought … I got this.
No matter how confident you were, the truth is that you didn’t know how long the job would last, if the baby would be healthy, if the house payment was doable (especially if the job fizzled), or if the car would run long enough to justify the cost. Sheesh. We’ve driven some doozies in our marriage. Shaun knows a lot about car mechanics, so perhaps we made better decisions than those who weren’t as knowledgeable. But cars, whether new or classic, are a gamble. I’ve seen ancient cars run forever and new cars fizzle within a year.
But back to the friend’s question:
What do I know?
My response was to just laugh, and say “Lately, I realize just how little I know.” And then I thought the same thing I’ve been thinking as of late, which is that when I die, the one thing I need to know, I still know. I still know that Christ died, was buried, and rose three days later to save my sinful self, and that I am entitled to zero access to God or Heaven except through Him and His work on earth.
In the prayer I’ve been going through here on Patheos (you can see the other blog about it here), it says this:
Help me to always be devoted, confident, obedient, resigned, childlike in my trust of thee, to love thee with soul, body, mind, strength, to love my fellow-man as I love myself, to be saved from unregenerate temper, hard thoughts, slanderous words, meanness, unkind manners, to master my tongue and keep the door of my lips. Fill me with grace daily, that my life be a fountain of sweet water. Amen.
Last week, we discussed being devoted. This week, let’s take confident. Speculation as to what the author meant by the term? Well, knowing that the author was a Puritan, I think it’s safe to say he was speaking of confidence in the One to whom he was talking. That is, God.
American society is bombarded with the thought that we need to be self-confident. The message is everywhere. Flip on the TV, it’s there. Flip through social media, it’s there. Fly past the billboard, it’s there. Sit in the classroom, it’s there. Unfortunately, sit in a lot of churches, it’s there. Read most modern books, it’s there.
But I don’t find it in the Bible. I John 5:13 comforts us with the fact that we can know we have eternal life. And Philippians 1:6 says this:
Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
If you read the Psalms, you’ll know that the Psalmist didn’t have a lot of confidence in himself. He was constantly crying out to God to help him, save him, protect him. Was he helpless? I mean, did he just hunker behind a bush and roll up into a fetal position, unable to think, walk, run? Of course not. He fled when his enemies were fast approaching. He took precautions as to where he slept at night so as not to be noticed. But he didn’t beat his hairy chest, give an ape call, and boast about his own strength. No, he did what he could, what he knew to do, and then prayed his heart out for the rest. He knew he was inadequate. He knew he was weak compared to a God who could accomplish far greater than he could ever ask or think. And so, though he worked hard to keep alive, his ultimate and final confidence was in his God.
I think as Christians, that’s all we can do, too. Use what mental savvy and physical ability God gives us, and have confidence and trust that He will do the rest.
Perhaps this is why so many of us struggle with sleep. We think the weight of the world rests on our shoulders. Or Donald Trump’s shoulders. Or Nancy Pelosi’s shoulders. It’s tempting to seek confidence not only in ourselves, but in country rather than Christ. In our “right” to bear arms, our freedom of speech, or our booming economy. All of those certainly make life better, but they also make miserable saviors. Only Christ can save a soul, and what is a country made up of if not a multitude of souls?
So yeah, I guess as our country (seemingly?) crumbles before my eyes, and as I age and experience more and more crumbling of my confidence in anything or anyone but Christ, I’m actually encouraged. It’s exhausting trusting in finite beings. In good but not necessarily Biblical principles. In a political system. In my husband’s paycheck. In trucks to deliver the food to the store. In medical procedures. Etc. I can be grateful for the bounty God has given, and I should work to preserve all that He has given. But as the biological clock ticks louder and louder, and as the number of sunsets left in my life get fewer and fewer, the more I realize that every good and every perfect gift comes from above, and comes down from the Father of lights (James 1:17). And my job as a Christian is to praise, worship, and have confidence in the Giver of those gifts – not the gifts themselves.