May 10, 2020

A Time of "Gracious Uncertainty" by Sharon Espeseth


Reminder from Friend that I am a Writer

Stymied in My Writing

The topic, "writing in the cracks,” had me stymied as I’m finding it hard to write. Period. I’m sporadic in my journal writing. When I do begin a blog or essay, it’s hard to get it finished even by using "cracks of time,” which seem to allude me.


Seek the Lord

Lynn J. Simpson’s blog, “God’s Timetable,” struck a note with me. Although God’s timetable may differ from ours, his goodness is everlasting. Lynn quotes the well-known verse: “Ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7 NIV) This time the word “seek” grabbed my attention.

A recent shift in our household schedule has challenged my morning routine of reading, writing and praying. I pray throughout the day, but I’m missing, or skimping on, my morning devotions. Have I, lately, been seeking enough?


Seeking through Song

“He who sings prays twice, says Saint Augustine. Although I miss singing in church, because of Covid restrictions, I can still sing and make music with all my soul. (Psalm 108:1) This too is seeking and addressing the Lord.

Here are two of my favourite hymn about seeking.

1. "Seek the Lord” by Roc O’Connor and sung by the Saint Louis Jesuits. The lyrics are based on Isaiah 55:6-9.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLjgnSKepow]

2. Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God by Karen Laffertyis based on Matthew 6:33.

Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God
www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsBpM9IcBts


My Writing Plans??

Writing may not be my present priority. Since I can’t see around corners, I don’t make many commitments. I find it best to trust God for each day. I’m not perfect at laying everything before God, especially the part of leaving things there, but I believe God is teaching me to live my life that way.

James has an interesting beginning to his letter “to the twelve tribes scattered to Kingdom Come,” as Eugene Peterson says in The Messenger. He questions why we say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” As writers, we may say, "I will write such and such and make a profit." Yet we don’t know with any certainty what tomorrow will bring. James reminds us that our life is transient, that we are a mist that will soon vanish. James suggests, we ought to say, "If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this and that.” (James 4:13-14 ESV)




"Gracious Uncertainty”* (From My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers)

It is our natural inclination,  Chambers explains, to be so precise in our planning and forecasting the future “that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing.” Our common sense may have us planning and plotting, but, he says, “We cannot presume to see ourselves in any circumstance in which we have never been.”

These past few years, due to my husband’s health concerns, the two of us are learning that we are better off not to presume too much.

Chambers also says, “Certainty is the mark of the common sense life--gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life.” We can be uncertain about our next step, but we can be certain about God. “As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises.”




The Norwegian and I in Another Season

My Present Task

Caregiving my husband is the present task God has placed closest to me. My writing must take a lesser place. My natural instinct is to analyze, observe, question, plan and schedule. That includes matters regarding Hank's health and daily living. This organizing can be time-consuming and sometimes discouraging and frustrating for both of us. Plans often fall apart when one is feeling poorly.

I must remind myself that I am not in charge.

One day Jesus  called a child and set the little one among his followers. Holding the child he said,  “Truly, I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3 ESV) We need to become humble, instead of self-righteous (always right), overly critical, and limited in our view.

Instead we need to seek the Lord and leave everything to Him. Then we will become, as Chambers says, “gloriously and graciously uncertain” about how God will work in our situation. We can be certain, however, that He will come if we remain faithful to him.*

*(Between the asterisks above, I am quoting and paraphrasing ideas from the devotional, “Gracious Uncertainty,” in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.

As for Hank’s health, we still have our struggles, but we are thankful for answered prayers, a diagnosis, God’s direction, and for family and friends who pray and support us.

Writing Between the Cracks

Hank is well enough to enjoy a bit of TV watching in the evening and he is back to his night-owl” habits, so I watch with him. . . Although it’s enjoyable and important to spend this time together, I need to pull back enough to get my sleep, so I can regain my early-bird ways. This is when I am best at reading, writing and praying.

I pray that I will follow God’s guidance and live well in this time of gracious uncertainty. You are welcome to join me in this prayer for yourselves.

12 comments:

  1. Hi Sharon. I will definitely join you in prayer. It is understandable that Hank is your priority and those cracks of time are not as attainable as they once might have been. I love your honesty - God is in charge and we are not perfect. So true. What a great card! Thanks for sharing with us and I will keep you in my prayers.

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    1. Thanks for your prayers and understanding, Vickie. My friend who gave me the card is a visual artist and my writing buddy. She reminds me that I will always be a writer, even when the actual writing slows down.

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  2. I'm so glad you figured out how to post this. it is lovely and meaningful. God bless.

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    1. Thanks, Tracy, for your encouragement and for your attentiveness to what’s happening on our blog. Technology temporarily exceeded my grasp. Ha!

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  3. Addy oberlin10:55 am GMT-7

    Thank you for sharing Sharon. I know and understand a little bit what you are going through. I think our life consists of different paragraphs. We grow closer to the Lord with each one, because He gives us the strength to endure . I am praying for you.

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    1. Thank you for your comment and your prayers. I appreciate your understanding and encouragement. I like your thought about life consisting of different paragraphs. And, yes, we do grow stronger when we go through challenges and learn to rely on God for strength and wisdom.

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  4. What a lovely blog post to show up on my birthday! When my husband was called Home last year, I felt bombarded by all the groups, books, and individuals out there who want to help the sorrowing. I knew I needed to choose my "mentors" wisely. I already had two great ones -- Charles Spurgeon and Oswald Chambers. My husband and I had been reading their devotional books and praying together in the mornings before he left for work. I have kept that up every day since. Oswald Chambers especially has been a tremendous help to me. Although he wrote more than a century ago, he knew how to get to what is really important in life. He swept away all the fluff and got to the core... Christ Himself. "Gracious uncertainty"... we don't know what a day will bring forth, but we DO know the God who brings everything to pass. Thanks for sharing a little of Chambers with your readers, Sharon.

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    1. I wanted to tell you that I enjoyed talking to you a little bit during our Zoom meeting, Willena. We will eventually meet in person. Thanks for sharing your precious story of the way you and your hubby read Oswald Chambers’ devotions together. That must be a comfort for you to continue reading this book now too. I must admit that I haven’t read Mr. Chambers book from cover to cover through a year. Instead I seem to jump into something that I need at a particular time. I was struggling with how to share why I’m not writing regularly right now. I’m not complaining as much as saying that God is helping me each day to do what is most important and necessary at the time. May God bless you and keep you. . .

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  5. Thank you, dear Sharon, for your honesty. Your words and quotes encouraged me. Chambers is also one of my favorite authors, and yet I haven't been reading my copy of his devotionals for ages. I plan to remedy this.
    I'm noting this quote this morning as one to embrace during these uncertain times: "As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises."
    Blessings ~ Wendy Mac

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    1. I was just telling Willena, in the comment above, that I’ve been reading My Utmost for His Highest for years, but I haven’t read it page by page through a full year. Still, I seem to read him when I need to figure something out and there it is. His writing is completely Bible-based and it speaks to me. I look up the reference he gives and read the short Bible quotes in context. It’s interesting that there are several of us who appreciate Oswald Chamber. I’m sure his writing is as appropriate now as it was at the time he wrote. Thanks for your comment. Blessings, my friend.

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  6. Thank you for such a poignant blog, Sharon. I love your theme of "gracious uncertainty". It struck a chord with me--don't we all go through these times?

    Your prayer was so meaningful..."I pray that I will follow God’s guidance and live well in this time of gracious uncertainty."

    God bless you and I'm praying for you and Hank.

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  7. Thanks, Sandi, for your encouragement and your prayers for us. I’ve learned a lot from Oswald Chambers over the age. I “borrowed” his term, “gracious uncertainty,” but I wanted to make it clear that this was his term. It is certainly apt for many of us, for many times in our lives. God knows our circumstances. . .

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