God Is In The Unknown

June 6, 2015 | Abbie Walker

It doesn’t take much to make me anxious. The idea that I might mess up, that I won’t say the right thing, or that I will somehow embarrass myself frightens me probably more than it should. As excited as I was to head to Colorado for the ACMNP conference last month, that fear of the unknown still crept up on me. Truth is, I’m afraid of failure, even when it comes to things as trivial as meeting new people. 

Before our flight to Colorado, my friends and I were afraid that we wouldn’t be “granola” enough for the ACMNP crowd. So we Googled mountain language. We joked about us being the odd ones, that with our luck, we would end up looking foolish. We thought that, surely, we weren’t tough enough, athletic enough, outdoorsy enough to be able to fit in. But from the moment we stepped off the plane and were introduced to the staff in green shirts and the other ACMNPers that looked just as nervous as we were, I knew we weren’t alone. 

The thing is, we all are scared of the unknown because we don’t like feeling unprepared. Just like when we stepped off the bus into piles of snow while clad in shorts and Chacos. Just like how my body felt attacked by the high altitude when I was used to air as thick as syrup with humidity. We weren’t prepared, but we adjusted. 

And the same was true for meeting new people in the Rockies. Those that started off being strangers at the conference turned into fast friends. Students from Virginia realized they had things in common with Californians. We talked about our spirit animals, planned trips to Las Vegas, and shared life stories. We didn’t know what kind of people we were going to encounter, but that made the surprise of finding wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ all the more rewarding. We may have felt unprepared, but we often will in life. 

However, one truth that someone told me years ago that still comforts me today is this—that God qualifies the unqualified; He equips the unequipped. I hate feeling out of my element. It literally makes me nauseous with anxiety sometimes, but oh, is it necessary for me to step out in faith into things I don’t understand. Every time I feel inadequate, it’s a push for me to depend on the Lord, a sign to surrender my trust to Him. 

I left the conference with my heart full of new friendships and my head crammed with fresh ACMNP knowledge. But I wasn’t sure I was fully ready to do what I signed up to do this summer. Would I be able to remember all that David and Amy had taught us? Was I qualified for this? But the Lord reminded me that He called me to this job for a reason, that the pressure isn’t on me to do a good job. He is the one I will rely on and He will come through. 

As we head out to our individual parks, that same feeling of unpreparedness takes hold of a lot of us. We may know our ACMNP team, but there are still co-workers and bosses to meet, roommates to move in with, new cities and terrains to be explored. I have a list full of things I’m worried about. Will I be able to do my job at the park? Will our worship services be a complete failure? Will my roommates think I’m strange? 

The idea of not knowing what’s ahead of me sometimes makes me a little nauseous, but then I think about what God has already done for me and what He has promised to do. 

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you. - Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT)

He has gone before me; He is walking with me now. Oh, what a comfort that is. 

It’s easy to be afraid. Feeling like you can’t do something the Lord has called you to do isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it’s true. We can’t do what the Lord has called us to do alone. Only by His power will we be able to accomplish anything. It’s a humbling truth, but a good one. 

So as you pack up your climbing gear and hiking boots, as you say goodbye to family and drive or fly to a new place, remember that God is in the unknown. As you encounter new people and new situations, remember the Lord’s promise that He will never let you down. 

We may not know what’s to come, but He does. He knows where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going. Latch on to that truth this summer, strap it onto yourself like a backpack, and may it comfort you as you head out into unfamiliar territory. 

As I recall the memory of a busload of ACMNPers having a massive snowball fight in the crown of the Rocky Mountains, it reminds me of how awesome spontaneous things can be. I hope I can learn to rest in the Lord this summer, to be open to things that I’m not prepared for, to embrace that He has my back and I don’t have to worry. I can face unknown unafraid.

And when the herd of elk passed by our bus as we traveled back down through the mountains, I realized how prepared those animals were to handle the cold and snow because the Lord had made them that way. He has equipped them. Surely, He will equip me.  

"This experience deepened my assurance of calling to the ministry and sharpened the skills I will need for congregational leadership."
– Kam, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond 2011

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