I find that I struggle with uncertainty in life. I struggle with the uncertainty over that which I have no control over. The tomorrow that is out of reach becomes the now, still, out of my control, and then, with the ebb of time, it becomes my yesterday. It becomes history. The temptation is to want control over the next chapter of my life.
I prepare, study, strive, rest, digest, and repeat, in hopes of making my chances, my odds of coming out ahead are better today than they were yesterday and tomorrow better than today. Then, the call comes, the email is answered, meetings are held, and still, no response. Worse yet, the response finally arrives and the odds are against me. My strivings are in vain. My dreams, though initially laughable having now become concrete and attainable are then pulverized by the reality at play.
Back to square one.
I believe that if I did have control of it — of life — I know I’d fumble it. The want for control part is human. We want to possess and dominate, guide and steer, control the wind, the stars, heat, sunlight, the atom, life, and yes, death.
It’s asinine really, this talk of control and foreknowledge. We construct, call into being, proclaim, profess, and commit, all in vain, as a way to make ourselves believe we are in control of our fate.
Providence, namely, God, has this strange sense of humor. He stands there watching us toil after an unattainable it, knowing from eternity past that the goal we want is unreachable and if ever reached, potentially ruinous. He guides and moves us gently back to the place of grey, of unknown, of uncertainty, elucidating us only to the fact that He knows what comes next and when. And that is enough.
Discontent as I am. As we all are. We persist time and again, headstrong at the altar of knowledge and foreknowledge, praying for certainty. When no answer is given we resort to prophets for profit to reveal to us that which we want to hear. I want certainties long before they happen. They give me an advantage in life, so I believe.
What have I to accomplish by idolizing the happenings of tomorrow?
How would I manage to live in black and white, knowing all, all-knowing?
Were it a reality, my given prescience, I would know when exactly I would get my dream job or when I would be denied it. I would know when I would be terminated from my job long before my boss. I would know every hurtful word to ever leave my kid’s mouths, directed toward me, before they think of saying them.
I would know the day of my death. I would know the very moment of my death and the manner, however glorious, noble, and memorable it would be. Or perhaps how disease-riddled, ignoble, and lonely a death it would be. Perhaps a car accident? Maybe I would slip and fall from a cliff in the mountainous Mt. Robson region. Perhaps I would drown in a foot of water. Or die from choking on an olive. An irony considering my last name. I do love olives, you know.
I would know how my wife dies. When. How each of my four girls dies, their last blood-gurgling breath. Whether they succumb to a violent boyfriend or husband. Whether they die on a battlefield somewhere in China, Russia, or Israel. I would know how much pain they’d be in, just how much blood they’d lose before expiring.
I would know if my efforts and my professional strivings would result in my family’s financial stability or their complete ruination, our future under a bridge, in a tent city, destitute, vagabonds in a state of perpetual wandering, shamed by every community we beg mercy from.
If I had only twenty days left to live, that too, I would know.
When I reflect on the gravity of knowing I am more frightened by the knowledge of what comes next than the uncertainty of what may never happen. The gift of knowledge, prescience, foreknowledge, of prophecy, if you would, perhaps, revelation even, is there entirely or it is not. To be privy to the things of eternity past, present, and future involves not only knowing when you’ll get that job, graduate from that school, train your child to ride a bike (four kids for me), and get to see your kids succeed in love and life.
This gift, or curse, will also show you misery, disease, loss, and death. You will see betrayal long before it happens. Love is lost long before the sentiments find ground to flourish. You will know hate for people you love. Disappointment in those you are proud of. You will watch the rise and fall of people you respect long before they are promoted, hired, or selected for roles. You’ll know the market long before it brings its suppliers wealth and you will know and see the mass suicides when it crashes.
The world of black-and-white certainty — this world of foreknowledge, I believe — is best left with God.
I, too, would want to know all the great and wonderful things God has set out for me. But it may be that God’s plans for my life, albeit good in the grand scheme of His story, these plans for my immediate life may be, say, disastrous. What then? Is He no longer God because His plans are not my plans? His outcomes, not my outcomes? His blessings my curse?
In light of such weighty conclusions, conclusions still unknown but ever possible, I choose to find comfort in the grey.
In the grey I find comfort in the now, knowing that I am present and at the moment, still alive. Whether healthy or infirm, destitute or surrounded by friends and family, I am here, now. Then and tomorrow are out of my immediate control. This may create in me a cynic or someone who has decided, in light of God’s many mysteries, to rely on the character of God for my life and future more than I rely on the answers He is willing to provide.
Knowledge, too, can be an idol, you know.
For now, though, I will rest my soul’s woes and worries in the grey of God’s time.
Originally published at http://olivettheory.com on November 30, 2023.