It is an extreme First World Problem to be able to fear for your unknown future while sunning yourself on the island of Maui–otherwise known as “Heaven on Earth”–but hear me out. The Monday before my trip-of-a-lifetime, I learned that the future-changing, career-catapulting opportunity I had been hoping for, didn’t pan out. The spiritual life excursion and escape to Wailea, Paia and Kapalua, Maui, therefore, could not have been more perfectly timed.
I was in the most beautiful place, staying at the exquisite, unmatched Fairmont Kea Lani on Wailea, with a perfect view of the ocean and the labyrinth of pools and gardens below me. But with my future unexpectedly uncertain and weighing on me, I could not fully enjoy those things as much as a sane person would have. I had to get away from my get-away and gain some clarity.
So, I walked down through the gardens and the pool areas, onto the beach that night to listen to the gently roaring ocean. When I got there, I immediately noticed the vast darkness set before me. Behind me were the lights from the hotel which slightly illuminated the waves as they rolled up to my lounge chair. Above me were the most amazing array of blinking stars and a quiet moon. But smack dab in the middle was the blackest sort of black. This kind of black is unheard of here in Manhattan, the second city of lights. This blackness was rural and natural and primal, untainted by modernity. It scared me.
I could hear nothing but waves, which, from the safety of my balcony or my bed, had been quite soothing. But there on the beach, the unknown was a threat and I immediately feared it. Chastising myself for cowardice, my second immediate thought was to conquer that fear, to get out of the chair and into the ocean, head-first. It was a stupid idea for more than one reason. Besides the fact that I am no super-skilled swimmer, couldn’t see a thing and that there was no one on the beach who could hear me scream should I begin to drown, I also realized that the sudden need to jump into vanquishing mode was just the control freak in me who couldn’t stay dormant for long.
Try as I might, if I had gone out there into the ocean with the task of conquering the unknown, I would’ve grown tired very quickly and failed in the same amount of time. Unless God turned the lights on, I would just have to sit and wonder if a pirate ship was careening towards me on shore or not. And that’s when it clicked.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” Some theologians interpret the “eternity” in this verse to be a “veil” or a “darkness” that God places over us to protect us from things we might want to know but would handle poorly if we did know. It’s inside that safety net, that veil of protection where we learn to trust in God and His infallible plan for us fully. That darkness should not only be comfortable, but I should learn to thank God for it and the things He keeps from me like the loving Father He is.
In that moment, I understood: God had pre-ordained when the sun would rise on Maui and illuminate what I couldn’t see. He wasn’t late in His task; at 11 o’clock at night, I was early, hoping to receive answers before their appointed time. So I decided then and there that I would sit in the expanding darkness until it was beautiful to me and I was neither afraid any more or desiring to conquer it. I leaned back in that chair and stared into the eye of the unknown until I was comfortable with it. And after about an hour of staring, thinking and whispering prayers, I was.
Sometimes, what is unknown can become known with effort or even just with the passing of time. By all means, in those times, do all you can to know all you can. But for those times, like your future, when there is no earthly way of knowing which direction we are going, that’s the time to get comfortable not knowing. You might as well: your discomfort, fear or your need to conquer the unknown will not change your access to the things God has hidden from your understanding for your protection.
Instead, trust that the future is in God’s all-knowing, all-powerful hands. And be thankful He watches over fools and babies. I know I am.