"Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take."
~ Nehemiah 9:19
This morning I realized that I have become comfortable with uncertainty. I don't know why. Perhaps it's because each new patient I meet through hospice is facing the greatest journey of uncertainty that they have ever encountered. When I think about my conversations, I realize that somewhere in our words, they are filled with uncertainty, but surrounded by hope. These are the conversations of my daily life, which of course, then become part of mine.
I feel as if we all have some "want," to know what today will bring. We hang calendars on our walls where we can plan upcoming events. My family even shares an electronic calendar that is coordinated and synched each day so that when we look at our phone we can see what the day looks like for one another. Even my meetings at work come to me as an "invitation," through emails, and then magically arrive in my calendar when I accept the invitation.
While we have these tools to plan out our lives, ultimately, we realize that in the back of our minds, there is always the existence of uncertainty.
Years ago when I would sit with prospective candidates interviewing for positions in a company I worked for, I would often ask that monumental question, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" I admit, I didn't have a response to my own question then, and I have to admit, the older I get, I'm still not sure!
I would listen and evaluate the candidate's response, while knowing my own truth.
Like the person I just met that is living with a life-limiting illness, all of us actually do live with uncertainty. And it's okay. Frankly, there are no answers to these questions. I am reminded of trips into caves as a kid in Southern Indiana. The flashlight I carried often only provided enough light to take me through the next step. So it is with our journeys. We often only have enough real knowledge to know what to do in the coming hour or the following day. It's as if we are artists, staring at a blank canvas, and learning that the art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not to worry about what it is that we do not know.
Having uncertainty about "what's next," means that we are learning to have hope, and to trust that we will have enough light, or knowledge, for the next step that follows. It's as if the steps of faith find us living a life filled with trust in God. At the end of each day, I am amazed at what life has brought, and I'm often surprised by what I have experienced. Even when my calendar heading simply says, "Patient Visit."
Uncertainty is filled with just enough light for the next step. Hope and trust in God allows us to confidently step forward, even when the light is limited by our own doubts and fears.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
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Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.