“I don’t know.”
These may be the most nerve-wracking words in the English language.
They’re usually being said in response to something. Someone has asked and expected us to have an answer, or at least an inclination. Instead, all we have to say is, “I don’t know.”
Standing at a crossroads means that you don’t know exactly what lies down either path.
Sure, you may have seen a map that says, “Waterfalls here” or “Dangerous pit of vipers here.” But you haven’t seen either route for yourself. You don’t know exactly what lies along the way, or what awaits you on the other side.
In that first example, it’s pretty easy to surmise that the path with the waterfalls would be the best route to go. (Just ask Indiana Jones—“Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes.”)
But what if the map says “Beaches here” and “Mountains here”? What if both paths seem like great options, and you’re unsure as to what will bring you the most enjoyment and fulfillment?
Or, what if there’s no map at all?
You stand at an unmarked crossroads. You’re free to choose either direction. You have no idea which path holds the fulfillment you seek, or the regret you fear.
You’re paralyzed by the decision.
As humans, we crave freedom—the freedom to make our own schedules, be our own bosses, to travel and explore, to make our own choices.
However, we often fail to recognize (or choose to ignore) that with increased freedom comes increased responsibility.
We become completely responsible for our actions and reactions.
And if we don’t question the motivation behind these actions—if we don’t keep our responses in check—we’ll find that our decisions are merely reacting to circumstances instead of acting despite circumstances.
Now, don’t misunderstand me—the events in our lives are can be catalysts to what God has for us. Even if He didn’t cause an event to happen, we serve a powerful God who can work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28)—our right and wrong decisions, our missteps, the things we have done or the ways decisions of others have affected us.
But when we don’t choose to give things to God, we’ll find that we often make knee-jerk reactions out of fear, anger, or anxiety instead of saying, “I trust God. I know He is in control. I will embrace His peace” despite the waters raging around us.
Quick reactions cause pain. Thoughtful actions bring gain.
We serve a God who gave us free will. We serve a God who will respect that free will (Revelation 3:20).
Thankfully, we also serve a God who will work out His best for our lives when we surrender that free will (Proverbs 16:9).
Going back to our earlier example, imagine that you’re not alone at this crossroads. You have a guide with you who has traversed both paths—who has seen both the challenges and scenic views along the way, and can tell you with certainty which path is best for you.
Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”
You see, God knew that unchecked freedom can illicit unprecedented fear. If you can do anything, there’s a lack of certainty and often a void that it leaves. It’s un-channeled and unchecked. It’s like a weapon wielded by someone who doesn’t know how to use it, and often does more damage (including collateral damage) than good.
However, in surrendering our free will to God, we experience even greater freedom—freedom from worry, stress, fear, and shame.
Our freedom has been channeled into a purpose—for Him and for His Kingdom. In freeing God to work, we can free ourselves from worrying about it. We have the God who knows all things and from that standpoint, can work all things together to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
“I don’t know” may be one of the most nerve-wracking phrases in the English language.
“I don’t know, but God does” is the most freeing.