By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.—Hebrews 11:8
I don’t like surprises.
I like plans. Schedules. A body that works and children who listen. Few things are as comforting to me as a calendar that outlines precisely what my life is going to look like today, tomorrow, and the countless tomorrows to come.
But then I decided to get married.
And be a mom of imperfect little humans.
And follow a wild and unfathomable God.
I would prefer to avoid risk, shirk failure and craft a life with the greatest likelihood of coming out looking good in the end. But then I discovered there is little I can do to control all the variable details of this unpredictable life. In the process, however, I also discovered that the most important things in life—and often the most thrilling—are the mysteries.
The adventures I can’t control and the intricacies I can’t unravel.
When life is hard and impossible and beyond figuring out
It is here, when life is hard and impossible and beyond figuring out, that I discover a story far bigger than my own of which I am a part. The pressure comes off my shoulders and lands squarely on God’s.
Most days, I feel like I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. I’m going to do my best, but I have no idea. But it is in the mysteries and uncertainties that I learn to trust my God. Even better, He’s showing me that He’s never used perfect people or fully prepared people. Instead, He’s always used willing people, people willing to follow Him regardless of interruptions, uncertainties, and risks.
So how do we prepare for this hard and yet beautiful unexpected life?
How do we establish ourselves on firm enough footing that when the mysteries surprise us we are not unraveled by them?
1. Anchor your mind in God’s Truth
Don’t wait for the crisis to hit to connect with the truth of God’s word in the Bible. Like the foundation of a house must be laid before the walls start to go up, your faith foundation needs to be established before you attempt to build a life upon it. Cheat this and the first unexpected storm is likely to take you down. Instead, read passages like Romans 8, Hebrews 11 and 1 Peter 1. Remind yourself again and again of the faithfulness of our God. Then when the unexpected happens, faith will be your foundation.
2. Buffer your heart with God’s Presence
If the Bible shores up the mind, God’s presence strengthens the heart. Like a blanket wraps a body and buffers it against the cold, the presence of God surrounds the sufferer with the warm reassurance of His presence. It’s not that life won’t often sweep through with bitter winds. But the woman wrapped in the prayer-induced experience of God’s presence will find a sure and solid peace, even in the midst of a storm.
3. Surround yourself with God’s people
We’re created for community. From the beginning, God wired us to need each other, strengthen each other, and encourage each other. It’s tempting in hard times to withdraw, isolate, and attempt to navigate the unexpected alone. But to weather the storms of life alone also means we miss out the beauty of God’s family working together for his purposes and glory. Worse, we risk growing weary of the fight and giving up. Instead, find strength in the presence of God’s people. Learn to ask for and receive the gift of community as well as offer your serving, loving presence to others. When linking arms in both our pain and joy, we’ll discover a far greater strength.
Which of these 3 preparations do you need to make to be ready for the unexpected life?