Sept. 19-20, 2009
Going . . . Not Knowing, Part One
by Charles R. Swindoll
The statement recurs through Scripture like a repeating telegraph signal on a high frequency radio band. Sometimes faint, barely discernible---sometimes strong, clear. Over and over. Paul made the statement as he was saying goodbye to a group of friends standing with him on an Asian beach. Several of the men wept freely, realizing they would never see the missionary again. The aging apostle looked from man to man, holding each one's eyes for a brief moment. Then, looking out to sea with his weathered hand pointing south to the stormy skies above the Mediterranean, he voiced these words:
And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. (Acts 20:22 NIV)
What an honest admission!
I am going . . . not knowing what will happen . . .
That's what this thing called the Christian life is all about, isn't it? Going
. . . yet not knowing. As followers of our Lord we believe He leads us in a certain direction . . . or in pursuit of a precise goal. That leading is unmistakably clear. Not necessarily logical or explainable, but clear. At least to us. So---out of sheer obedience---we go. We pack our bags, pull up stakes, bid our friends farewell, and strike out. We face a future as uncertain as our leading is sure. How strange . . . yet how typical!
There isn't a Christian reading my words who hasn't walked that path. And struggled with ways to convince others it was right. And endured the frowns and well-meaning counsel of those who tried to point out why the idea was a fluke . . . even downright foolish.
For sure Abraham faced it when he wrenched up roots from his hometown soil and struck out for---let's see, where was he going? He didn't know! There he was, almost seventy-five years old, loading up a camel caravan with his wife and family bound for . . . somewhere. Hebrews 11:8 puts it straight:
By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out . . . not knowing where he was going.
"Abraham, what are you doing?" asked a neighbor.
"That's right. We're moving."
"Why? Why in the world would you want to leave Ur?"
"God has made it clear that I should go."
"God, huh? You've been talking to Him again?"
"Right. He told me to leave. I must go."
"Well, where are you going?"
"I don't know. He didn't tell me that."
"Wait a minute. Let me get this straight. You know you oughta go, but you don't know much beyond that, huh?"
"That says it pretty well."
"Wow . . . that's all I can say . . . wow. God sure gets blamed for a lot of stuff He doesn't have anything to do with. You know, man, some of us have been a little bit worried about the way you've been acting lately. Up to now, it's just been a little strange . . . but this, Abraham . . . this takes you off the end of the pier. It's like everyone's saying---you really are off the deep end!"
And so it goes. Who hasn't stepped off the end of the dock to stride on faith footing? Abraham and Paul did it. And, sooner or later, all of us will be called to do it. Are you on the verge of such a decision? Tomorrow, I'll give you some things to ponder before you jump.
Excerpted from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, Copyright © 1985, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.