Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11, a Black Swan, and Our Faithful Guide

Our Trustworthy Guide

Nassim Taleb, a Lebanese essayist, wrote an influential book about the Black Swan Theory --  a theory about completely unexpected events that have profound impact and seem like they could have been predicted after the fact. His theory is named after an old saying similar to "when pigs fly." If something was described as a "black swan" it was considered impossible. Then, in 1697, someone discovered black swans in Australia. Surprise! Pigs do fly. Taleb described the rise of the internet, PC, WWI, and 9/11 as Black Swan events. They changed the world we live in and we never saw them coming.

Black Swan events are coming your way. Expect the unexpected. What can you do to prepare? And how will you respond when the events take place? You need a guide. The prophet Jeremiah said it this way, (Jeremiah 10:23) "O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." We need the one who "leads [us] beside still waters", the one who "leads [us] in the right paths for his name's sake." It's good to know that, even with Black Swans looming, we have a Trustworthy Guide.

God is our guide
God's people have always needed and received guidance from above. Direction came to them through dreams, visions, prophecies, Scripture, fleece, cloud, pillar of fire, and a still small inward voice. They all faced their own Black Swans, but God never left them. He was always there to guide.

When the unexpected catastrophes hit do not assume that you took a wrong turn. Even with God's guidance, your path will not be an easy one. The easy path is deadly. It takes strenuous effort to march the upward path to the holy mount Zion.

God's plan for us is that we become like Jesus. Part of becoming like Jesus is sharing in his suffering. His was a painful path. Following him will not be easy.

Nevertheless, we can take comfort in the assurance that we have a faithful Guide through the Black Swan events of life. His wisdom and power are matchless. His goodness is limitless. He will never lead us astray. Though the path may be difficult, it will be good.

The question is not how well our Guide will lead us. The only question is how faithfully we will follow. When we get to the rocky cliffs and narrow passages the answer is not to question the guide. Then is not the time to begin to chart our own courses. Our task, our sole duty, is to trust and faithfully follow the Master. He will guide us faithfully through the Black Swan events of our lives.

Don't be a mule
God will not force you to follow him.  God gives you the freedom to reject his leadership. The best counsel ever given is this: Don't be a mule.

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.  Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. -- Psalm 32:8-9

If you trust in the Lord with all your heart instead of your own feeble understanding he promises to direct your steps (Prov 3:5-6). This may be a time for you to wait patiently for the Lord to show you the next step (Ex 40:37). The God who has brought you this far is not about to leave you.

Sure, there will be Black Swans. Our faithful Guide is not surprised by them. Trust your Guide.