So I went for a walk and it rained. Hard.
Yes, I consulted the meteorological radar on my handy phone app before I left and I was prepared. But without my nifty folding umbrella that expands generously to dimensions suitable for golfers—apparently—I would have returned home much wetter, and much sooner.
I guess you could say I made an informed choice. I didn’t want to forgo a fresh air walk just because I knew there were marauding showers lurking out there in the uncertain clouds. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to breathe deep into my lungs the easterly autumn breeze that so often comes with a Sydney low pressure weather system. My app told me there was a 90 per cent chance I would get wet, and I did.
As I walked and the rain grew heavy, the gutters turned from trickles into torrents and sheets of water rushed across the road surface, so I was grateful for the cover of mature trees. Then, sadly, I recalled how many of them had been lost in the recent storms.
Those botanical giants which had cooled and protected our suburb as generations came and went, were now also gone. Saturated by a deluge, blasted by a gale and no longer supported by the sodden earth, they had simply fallen over, roots and all. By now their growth rings have been chipped and mulched, and their leaves shredded, and they will return to the earth that once held them firm – that gave them up.
How I miss them.
On my return home, I threw my exercise gear into the washing machine. As I dashed upstairs in search of clothing, I was glad to be out of the rain, but glad too to feel the oxygen and energy coursing through my body. I smiled wryly as the sun briefly poked its tongue out at me through the clouds. Gotcha!
What I know: It was good to be prepared for the rain but to go walking anyway. I knew my umbrella would protect me from a moderate downpour, though a full-on storm? Probably not. I also knew that if things got really bad I could run for home, to the dry and safety of shelter, providing I wasn’t injured by a falling tree or swept into the rising creek or tripped by my own feet!
Actually, everything I ‘knew’ was really just me being prepared for what I didn’t know. In reality, I had no idea what might happen or how bad things might get.
But isn’t that the life we lead, every day?
I’m no expert in the rigours of statistical probability; I’m neither mathematician nor actuary. But after returning from my walk I realised that unconsciously, constantly, I make decisions based on a certain kind of probability—my perception of what normally happens and what might happen.
And I suppose you do too. Although my judgements may have no foundation in statistical probability, I still believe I can prepare for many possibilities or, conversely, take risks based on reasonable expectations. I have neither the skills nor the time to try to do this mathematically!
If I’m honest though, there are times when I make impulsive choices based on nothing more than the fact that I like the colour green, or my favourite shoes just fell to pieces, or I’m running late, or I’m just sick of thinking rationally. Whether shaped by personal preference, raw emotion, desperation or pure stupidity, I can, and do, make irrational decisions too.
But even if it were possible to make every decision and take every precaution based on rational, mathematical probabilities, I must always contend with forces and events I cannot control – as it turned out, if I had gone walking later I wouldn’t have got wet.
But let’s suppose I’d gone walking later. Maybe I might have been less cautious, slipped on a pile of soggy leaves, twisted my ankle and spent the night in hospital. It’s a possibility, but I cannot say for sure.
Who I know: The truth is I cannot and will not ever know, or control, how my earthly life will play out, whether in the next hour, the next week or further into the future.
But I know the One who does.
Even though I lack certainty about what will happen in my everyday life, the God of heaven and earth does not leave me to try and figure it out. Instead, he invites me to know him and trust in him. And this makes all the sense in the world because he does know what happens next. He is the only one who knows.
Even though I lack the power to control future events, the Lord God does not leave me without resources. Instead, he invites me to depend on him. This, too, makes all the sense in the world because he does control what happens next. He is the only one who can.
I cannot know what future burdens will weigh me down or what storms will buffet me. But of this I am sure: if my roots go down deep into the bedrock of God’s mercy and love, I have a secure foundation that will keep me standing into eternity. Those burdens and storms may leave me scarred, aged and bowed down, but as I trust in the Lord and depend on him, he will help me to endure. He will not let me fall.
I can prepare for rain, but my heavenly Father will keep me safe in him no matter what weather comes my way.