St John's Lutheran Church, La Grange IL 60525 (LCMS)

St. John's Lutheran Church and School
47th Street and Brainard Avenue, La Grange, Illinois 60525


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Week of January 16, 2010

“The things you planned for us no one can recount to you, O Lord!” (Psalm 40:5)

By my recollection, we used to get a lot more of those news stories with new year “predictions” from psychics and astrologers than we do in today’s media. I would be delighted to see a decline in such divinations, but maybe I’m just not reading in the right places. I would love to believe there is a revival of faith to see our future in the redemptive hands of Jesus, but I doubt that’s the trend. The one trend I do see is the increasing recognition of one constant: unpredictability.

Christians and those outside of our faith share a common distaste for unpredictability. We create elaborate systems and rituals to hold on to the very few things we can control, and thus predict. Read the wisdom literature of the Bible and you’ll hear the whisper of an “Amen” to the discovery of unpredictability. “This life and world we navigate is more unpredictable than predictable.”

The scriptures abound in telling us something pretty uncomfortable. There is so much we don’t know and can never predict—wonderful things that only God knows and we must trust. Since we don’t put our faith in the dark arts and we live by faith, I have a question for myself and my readers. Who is best equipped to live and prosper in unpredictable times, believers or unbelievers?

Ask the question that way and it is hard to refute a compelling answer for Christ-followers to come out strong and even thrive in unpredictable times. But honestly we don’t. Like Job in suffering, we want to know why; like Simeon in waiting, we want to know when; like Paul in prison, we want to know how this will turn out. It’s not that they (or we) doubt God’s love or our eternal destination. We just have trouble predicting and understanding the journey there.

We are in the season the church calls, “Epiphany.” That’s a word with a curious offer of predictability. (Epiphany means, “to make known.”) Epiphany isn’t the promise of knowledge that neatly predicts our future. Epiphany is an invitation to dive deep into “knowing Jesus.” If you want to have the depth of insight to thrive in unpredictable times, knowing Jesus deeper is the only sure way to move forward with courage.

The Bible says, “in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). Faith is the lifeline that holds Jesus hand. Faith isn’t about predictions. Don’t misinterpret some of the great “faith” verses of the Bible to suggest that if you have enough faith, then you’ll see everything clearly or that everything will fall into place the way you want to see it. It’s really quite different. Faith is what you need when you can’t see your way clearly.

Neither I nor the Bible are suggesting that we just sit around without ambition or plans for the future. The Bible is challenging in this regard. It calls us to live extraordinary lives. We are no longer paralyzed by unpredictability nor live according to the idols of our own control and manipulation. We are “God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:10). The things he has planned for us no one can even count, ask for or imagine (Psalm 40:5, Ephesians 3:20).



(c)2011 St. John's Lutheran Church and School | 505 S Park RD | La Grange IL 60525 |
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Bill Geis has led a variety of missional ministries for over 20 years. He has served as senior pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church in La Grange, Illinois since 2004. He is the proud father of teenage daughters, Erica and Monica. His partner in ministry and in marriage, Sandi Geis, serves with him on the team at St. John's as prayer ministry leader, devotional writer and music teacher. He has a passion and calling to rally Christian communities and disciples to help people Meet Jesus in authentic and life changing ways.

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