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Friday, October 10, 2014

Dealing with Ambiguity?

If you feel the need for a little encouragement today, you are probably not alone.  I don't live with ambiguity very well, because I think life should have clear direction.  When things come my way which only lend to the ambiguity, I struggle with them a little.  Ambiguity by definition is the uncertainty of meaning or intention - the purpose is simply unclear.  Where there is lack of clarity, I seek it out.  This is my nature - I "uncover" what is not said - the implied meaning.  Much of my difficulty with ambiguity comes in not knowing the intent of something.  Many times you will hear me say, "We need to connect the dots so people understand the 'why' behind it."  I am really saying I believe others need to have clear intent in their actions, as well!  When we are dealing with ambiguity for a long period of time, we often need some encouragement and comfort to get through those times.  To this end, let me just point us to Christ - for no one encourages and comforts in quite the same way when the intent of something is not fully known!

Christ encourages you, and his love comforts you. God’s Spirit unites you, and you are concerned for others. Now make me completely happy! Live in harmony by showing love for each other. Be united in what you think, as if you were only one person. Don’t be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves. Care about them as much as you care about yourselves and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought... (Philippians 2:1-5 CEV)

Something happens when God's people come together in unity - there is a mutual encouragement which occurs.  One bolsters the faith of another - giving the wherewithal to face the ambiguous spots in life with just a little more energy.  In fact, when God's kids rally around each other in these times of uncertain intent, the love of God begins to invade the spaces where uncertainty exists.  In those moments, intent may not be fully understood, but the value of our community in which we are united shines through!  This is why we need each other - because we cannot face ambiguity alone!

Three things I'd like us to count on in times of ambiguity:

1) Christ's encouragement - in essence, all encouragement does is give us a little stimulation where we most need it.  Think on that one for a moment - encouragement is like a little cattle prod - it stimulates us deep within to hold on, press forward, take the first step, etc.  Without that encouragement what happens?  We simply don't move forward when we should, and we often move without a plan or purpose whenever we do step forward.  If understanding intent is so important to us, then taking steps without understanding is hard! What we need is someone to give us the thumbs up and tell us it is okay to take that first step.  This is what Christ does for us - sometimes one-on-one in our meditation time with him - other times through the mouths of those he has brought us into companionship with. Either way, he sends the stimulation we need to not be paralyzed by the ambiguity life has put in our path.

2) God's love - closely related to his encouragement, his love is what carries us when we are lacking courage in the midst of the ambiguous spaces in life.  I have a particularly close friend who does this quite often for me - oftentimes without even knowing she does it. In those times of uncertainty, sometimes all I need is a little bit of her humor, or a hug to let me know all will be well in the midst of the present struggle I am in.  God's love is understood in appreciating all the blessings he gives into our lives - but it is especially understood when his love is spoken through another deeply into the fibers of our being.  As my pastor refers to it, we sometimes need a "God with a bod" to help us understand his love!  In the expression of compassion, exuberance of enthusiastic agreement, or the solemnity of chastisement, we find the love of God expressed in the lives of those he has placed us in fellowship with.

3) His uniting Spirit - there is nothing more scary than dealing with life's ambiguous moments or seasons all alone.  God's uniting Spirit brings us together with those who can help us to walk through even the "valley of the shadow of death" and come out stronger on the other side!  To stand alone in life's ambiguous spaces is something akin to being the only target on a firing line!  It seems like everything which could attack and tear us limb for limb does so if we are trying to stand alone.  Therefore, God sends his Spirit to unite us with others - establishing us in community so we don't wander into places of deeper uncertainty, or wither under the constant barrage of unknown intent.

We all  need intent - to this end, God places us in the company of others who can help us discover the intent in ways we had no power to consider on our own.  We need each other, my friends, to break through places of ambiguity in our lives.  Just sayin!