"How are you today?"

“How are you today?” We hear this question, and variations of it, several times a day. The question is often used as common etiquette, a quick and polite exchange. But how often do you reply with an honest answer? Or even better, how often do you ask it in the hope of receiving an honest answer? If I were to answer that question honestly 100% of the time, I would be exhausted. I might tell you I’m tired, busy, okay, fine, good, great, not so great, been better. I could go on and on. Lately it’s been a difficult question for me. My answer is probably a bit more than what you’re bargaining for. It’s a little deeper and a little messier than “fine” or “busy.” So here’s my honest answer: 

Things feel pretty up in the air. I am 24 and coming to the end of a season in life. When I came to the end of high school, I went to college, when I came to the end of college, I went into an internship and part-time job. Now I am coming to the end of this season and to be honest, I don’t really know what’s next. 

My confidence wavers, my optimism ebbs and flows, and the future feels like the sun on a cloudy day, playing hide and seek between the clouds. Sometimes I feel its warm invitation to step outside, and sometimes I’d rather just stay inside and wait. 

I’ve grown up around people who love Jesus and who try to follow him with their whole life. I’ve seen the power of prayer and experienced the love of God. I’ve recounted how God has been faithful and how he has never left me. And yet, when I think about my future, my mind becomes foggy and my vision blurred.

I am reminded of Israel. A whole nation of people rescued by God out out slavery, guided through the desert, provided for left and right. But Israel was so quick to forget. They replaced God with fear and worry and made idols out of what was convenient. They cried out to him in desperation as a last resort. I tend to do the same thing. I forget how God has provided for me in the past and I worry about the future, how I will get along, if I will have what I need. 

My love for and faith in Jesus are held together by God’s grace and my stumbling obedience to Him, but doubt still creeps in and tries to take hold. I know I am not alone in this. I have friends who are in similar places. They are wanting to seek God first and be attentive to his voice. They are wanting to live lives of surrender and intimacy with Jesus. 

But, like Israel, we are all prone to forgetting the faithfulness of God and only calling on him when we think we need him. So what do we do?

When we are filled with worry we recall Philippians 4. “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

When we are unsure of what our future holds we read Proverbs 3. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” 

And when we just don’t know what to pray for we remember Romans 8. “Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches the heart knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

Every person on this planet who has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit has someone praying for them even when they do not know what to pray. How humbling to know that the Creator of the Universe chooses to intercede for us; wants to help us in our weakness. Think about that. It is a concept so far outside of our limited human scope, it’s sometimes hard to grasp. But it is true!

My hope is that we won’t just meditate on these words when we feel like it or when we think we need it, but all the time, adhering to truth even when we are in calm waters, not waiting for a storm to hit to go to God. 

Whether you are in a joy-filled season or a low season, graduating college, moving to a new city, feeling stuck in a job, unsure of what direction to go next, the Spirit is interceding for you and for me. God himself in you is speaking truth and encouragement and guidance. We are unsure of what to pray for but we can have confidence in the fact that God’s Spirit is for us and works all things together for the good of those who love him. 

The future is unknown but God knows it all and he does not waiver. 

Hi! I'm Vanessa! Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, I graduated from UC Santa Cruz and currently reside in this beautiful beach town. I have a passion for youth ministry and theology. You can find me by the snack table at just about any party. I love learning about the character and grace of God and being reminded of his faithfulness in my life and in the life of his people. I enjoy listening to live music, watching good movies, and going to baseball games. If I had to choose one kind of food to eat the for rest of my life, it would be Mexican, hands down.