Swaziland captured my heart from the first moment I arrived. I was enamored. With the beauty. With the people. With the weather. In the time that I lived there, I learned so much. About myself. About other people. And in general, about life. But one lesson sticks out more than anything else.
Not long after I moved to Swaziland – to manage an HIV prevention initiative that was a national voluntary medical male circumcision program [yes, you read that right] – the CEO from my company visited. The program had been struggling before I moved to Swaziland and became the director. And, it was still in quite the state when he visited. We had super contentious meetings. No one was getting along. No one seemed to know what was going on. And most importantly, no one was getting circumcised.
I was frustrated that I didn’t have all of the answers to fix all of these issues. In one of our conversations, Chris stopped and said, “Liz, the more comfortable you become with ambiguity, the more you will know you are growing as a leader.”
Those words have stuck with me since. I’ve been forced to learn to trust the process. Be ok with the ambiguity. And, in my frame of thinking, that’s trusting God’s process.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve thought a lot about what Chris said to me that day because of a change that the church that I attend – and where I am an Elder – is currently going through. Our senior pastor of 39 years resigned a couple weeks ago and the timing was all a bit wonky. There was and still is not a specific transition plan. There’s no specific candidate for senior pastor. And, well, we might not even end up having a senior pastor. There’s a lot of ambiguity. And y’all. That ambiguity? It’s a gift from God. It is making us to lean into His wisdom and trust the path He is leading us on.
None of this was a surprise to God. He knows the way forward and He’s going to take us there. We just have to trust Him.
I’ve come to understand that comfort with ambiguity is not just a professional state of mind, but a personal and spiritual one as well. The gap in not knowing the way forward – the response to ambiguity – is TRUST and FAITH.
I’m comfortable with where my church is headed. I’m comfortable with that ambiguity.
At this point in my life, I can get more comfortable with not knowing the outcome of something much faster than I could in the past. But it’s taken me years of learning to TRUST the PROCESS to get there.
Psalm 55 directs the way that I think we should respond to this situation – and any situation where we are anxious, unsure, fearful (you name the uncomfortable feeling) – and it TOTALLY corresponds to being more comfortable with ambiguity. We are to 1) Ask for God’s attention, 2) Pour out our complaints to God and 3) Return to God with a statement of TRUST. [thanks to my classmates at Gordon Conwell for this summary!!!]
Ultimately I’ve got to come back to trusting the process. In my WHOLE life. At work, with my family and friends, in the community and here, without a senior pastor, at my church.
I trust God as my guide. He doesn’t want me over-analyzing my situation. He wants me to follow the path that He’s set before me and then trust that He’s in charge. I doubt that He’ll take me into the path of hippos and crocodiles [who knows though….He totally could]….but I do know that He will take me into a path that is uncomfortable and feels unsafe at times.
So God, I will trust you. I will lament this situation. I will ask for your attention. I will pour out my complaints to you. And then, I will turn my trust back to you with a statement: Abba Father, I trust you with my church. And even more, I trust you with my life. Keep leading me into the paths that will grow me and our church. I welcome it and I’ll not over-analyze it. Be my guide. Amen.