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Dr. John & Company Blog

Precarious Living

September 22, 2023

You are riding on a bus through the Andes. The road is as wide as a fat donkey, but little more! The driver speeds like this is NASCAR and the drop to your right is a doorway to eternity. How do you feel? Or — you’ve worked hard on a project, but your boss is famous for being fickle. They could smile or fire you just as easily. It’s some of your best work, but after you’ve hit the send button, what’s in your chest? One more. Your oldest is getting married. It sounded like a great idea to have an outdoor ceremony at the beach, but as the day moves forward, the forecast is foreboding. Everything is set. There’s no turning back. On the morning of, you view dark hail clouds on the horizon. You feel like your situation is ….what?

There’s an adjective that perfectly matches your feelings in those situations. The insightful have already looked at the above title and know the answer.  Yes, it is precarious. The dictionary blends the pictures I’ve scripted under one word and defines it as, “dependent on something or someone outside of our control.” Precarious describes a context where we are not in control. It need not be a dangerous situation. The circumstances could help you as much as they could hurt you. But what makes the context precarious is that we are not in control. We are dependents. So, we feel insecure, unstable, afraid. We don’t like being dependent. We prefer to control, to predict, to live with certainty. By nature, we shy away from precarious living. So now comes the shocker.

Latin scholars (a dying breed) know that the word for “prayer” comes from the word “precarious”. They are the same word. It’s not a linguistic connection I would make on my own, but the sense of both words does make sense. When we pray, we are living as dependents. The requests we send heavenward are out of our control! God is driving the bus. God receives the work of our hands. He can send sunshine, or He can deluge with hail. We do not dictate to God. We let go of certainty and grip faith with both hands. We live precariously – completely dependent upon God.

Does that seem like chance? It might if God was erratic. But He isn’t. God has proved worthy of our trust. His heart is shaped like a Father. His love is proved through the Son. By His Spirit, He is as near to me as air. He invites me to live as if everything that matters to me, and even the things that don’t, rest in His Hands. That is the posture I pray with. What will God do with my prayers? When will there be answers? Will my prayers change anything? Will they change me? I am not in control. My situation is precarious. Ironically, with God, that’s the safest circumstance to be in.

Scott Tolhurst

Scott Tolhurst

Scott and his wife have spent almost 50 years following God together through life, marriage and ministry. They’ve hop scotched across Canada and landed at the water’s edge on Vancouver Island. They’ve harvested the riches of family (5 grandkids!) and the delights of God’s people. Life has not always been clear but the fog has been pierced with these truths. The heart matters. Kingdom work is God’s. Nothing can replace faith. It never ceases to amaze Scott that, if his life is a gift, how great the Giver must be!


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