The Certainty of Uncertainty by Elder James Groce
There is perhaps no other profession which must constantly be aware of uncertainty as that of the apostolic preacher. It is true that uncertainty is a part of everyone’s life; however, the causes of the kingdom of God with which a preacher must interact are deluged with uncertainty. Uncertainty can be a paralyzing emotional experience! Many times the uncertainty of what might happen is more difficult to deal with than the actual event itself. The economy of the church is made up of people and nothing can be any more uncertain, it seems. A gospel preacher proclaims a life-giving message to humanity but the results of that message in accomplishing its intended end is a very complex process within the hearts of those that hear him. The parable of the sower illustrates the complexity existing among the varieties of hearts. From day to day (and year to year) situations can arise that seem to change long-lasting dedications. Also events transpire that can suddenly create doors that never existed before. Sometimes the bad gets better and sometimes the grounded become uprooted; sometimes the surface of a church is placid and, then quite suddenly, like a thunder clap, things are in disarray. The excitement of yesterday can become dismal over the most insignificant thing. Yes, a preacher lives daily with uncertainty.
When there security (whatever form it takes) is threatened and they are left to wait, and speculate, and wait some more, with the mind breeding all kinds of “what-if” scenarios, uncertainty can cripple them emotionally and spiritually. It can make the situation more agonizing by its ubiquity; it has a paralyzing power. There is a breed of goat called the “fainting goat” which some think originated from Nova Scotia.
These goats are sometimes called nervous goats because any sudden movement or scare causes them to faint. Their legs immediately lock in the straight position causing them to fall over, completely frozen, in a faint condition, for a few moments. When the episode is over, they go back to life as normal. (A fainting goat is a breed of domestic goat whose external muscles freeze for roughly 10 seconds when the goat is startled. Though painless, this generally results in the animal collapsing on its side. The characteristic is caused by a hereditary genetic disorder called myotonia congenita. When startled, the younger goats will stiffen and fall over.)
Hebrews 12:3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Dealing with situations and events that mayor may not happen causes far too many preachers to fold under pressure; yes, many times it is not the known problems but the fear of the unknown which plagues us. Instead of presuming that our plans and dreams will be fulfilled, we ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” When we submit our plans to God’s will, we can enjoy his peace in the midst of life’s uncertainty.
Elder James L. Groce was born June 12, 1945 in Pasadena, Texas. He is married to Brenda, and to this union were born three children. James attended Texas Bible College in Houston, Texas. He evangelized for twenty (20) years, and has pastored for twenty (20) years. Elder Groce is a member of the Apostolic Ministers Fellowship. He served as editor in chief of the Apostolic Standard (the official organ of the AMF) for ten (10) years. He is also a former Chairman of the Apostolic Ministers Fellowship. Elder Groce is also a member of the steering committee for the Apostolic Ministerial Conference (AMC), and is editor-in-chief of the Apostolic Compass, a publication designed for the edification of conservative Apostolics.
Elder Groce is presently the pastor of Calvary Apostolic Church in Molino, Florida.