Clarity feels so nice, doesn’t it? That decision for work, taking a new job, or whether to take that next step in your relationship. I really like clarity. Yet, clarity is a weak foundation to stand on in pursuit of things that matter. Amazingly, sometimes the very best things we seek in this life may feel very uncertain and unclear in the moment. There are alternatives, and a key one, I submit, is trust.
I came across this excellent article (published 01.14.2020) this last year and Kingdom at Work has graciously permitted I to post it here on my blog. Let me know in the comments what you think and if you would like to hear more on this topic.
Clarity vs. Trust
by Cal Zant
I often ask God for direction or clarity on a particular issue I’m facing or next steps for our business. I sincerely want to know what He wants to do, instead of simply doing what I think is best and asking Him to bless it. And sometimes I just flat-out don’t know what to do and need His help! I even admit that I occasionally fantasize about how easy it’d be if God would just email me a clear bulleted list of next actions. That’s why when my pastor shared this story from Brennon Manning’s book Ruthless Trust, it hit me right between the eyes:
When John Kavanaugh, the noted and famous ethicist, went to Calcutta, he was seeking Mother Teresa … and more. He went for three months to work at “the house of the dying” to find out how best he could spend the rest of his life.
When he met Mother Teresa, he asked her to pray for him. “What do you want me to pray for?” she replied. He then uttered the request he had carried thousands of miles: “Clarity. Pray that I have clarity.”
“No,” Mother Teresa answered, “I will not do that.” When he asked her why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.” When Kavanaugh said that she always seemed to have clarity, the very kind of clarity he was looking for, Mother Teresa laughed and said: “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”
As business leaders – and maybe just as humans – we desire clarity. Knowing something with absolute certainty is so alluring! But I heard Jason Gray, a popular Christian music artist, say something a couple of months ago that has been bouncing around my head ever since. He said, “I used to think the opposite of faith was disbelief, but I’ve come to understand the opposite of faith is something all together different. The opposite of faith is certainty.” You see faith isn’t necessary when certainty is present. It’s only in uncertainty that faith can manifest and grow.
Another pastor friend taught me recently that often we seek God’s provision, but His presence is His provision. Rick and I were talking about that, and he shared with me the first time he understood what that meant. It was with his granddaughter, whom he and Holly love to keep once a week. He said when that baby is with him, she wants for nothing. If she has even the simplest need, they quickly run out and get it. It’s not that the baby has within her possession everything she will ever need … but when she’s with Rick and Holly she will have anything she could possibly need. There is nothing they’d withhold from her.
Deuteronomy 11:10-15 is sort of a landmark passage for many of us at Betenbough Companies. It is God trying to describe to the people of Israel, who had only ever known slavery in Egypt, what this new land was going to be like that He had for them. Here is how the NIV translates it:
The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden. But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.
So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.
What a beautiful picture! This new land won’t be like Egypt where it was up to you to manually irrigate the fields. Where you had to make it happen with the sweat of your brow. Where it was up to you to be the rainmaker. This land is different! The Lord watches over it in a special way, and it “drinks rain from heaven.” And God doesn’t just send rain, he sends specific rains: “I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil.” It’s exactly the right kind of rain in exactly the right season. And through that, He says “I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.”
Rick told me that he recently looked at the underlying Hebrew behind that passage, and it turns out “I will send rain” may not be an accurate translation. The more literal translation is “I will bring rain” or “I will provide rain” or “I will give rain” – not send. Here are some other translations that seem more accurate to this literal translation:
- English Standard Version: “he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain”
- Christian Standard Bible: “I will provide rain for your land in the proper time, the autumn and spring rains”
- King James Version: “That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain”
It’s not as if God’s presence is somewhere else, and He is sending provision apart. He will be there with them in this new land, and directly provide for their needs. It will be very different than what they experienced in Egypt, but doesn’t it sound amazing?! Likewise, I’m learning that how we dwell and lead in God’s Kingdom will also be very different. We aren’t the rainmaker. It’s not up to us to know the plan or have clarity, but to know the Rainmaker and trust Him.
In case you hadn’t noticed yet, it seems God is adamant on teaching me this lesson! I’m learning that I shouldn’t just pray to God for answers, but cling to Him because He is the Answer. God has been so abundantly faithful in my personal life, and our business … that this should be easy. But, I admit it is still a struggle for me, which thankfully the Lord is obviously bent on helping me with. So I now am asking God more for trust instead of clarity, and for faith instead of certainty.