Of course, you remember the classic meme where a woman reviews her life by means of a series of footprints on the beach. She wonders why God disappeared at the most difficult moments of her life, but it turns out He carried her then. He was there all the time.
Recently a dear friend spoke about the “book of her heart”—a memoir of her childhood that she wishes to write. Childhood often prompts delicious nostalgia, but some of her memories bring as many tears as smiles. Yet as she begins to trace the mysterious hand of the Rescuer, she sees He was there all the time.
“Blessings sometimes show up in unrecognizable disguises.” –Janette Oke
Her story reminds me of a picture book of Proverbs my daughters enjoyed as little children. Beautifully illustrated, it featured a tiny ladybug hidden on every page. Sometimes they had to search long and hard, but it always turned out the cute little bug was there all the time.
Seeing the Back Side
I’m sure you’ve also heard the lesson of the tapestry. Right now, we glimpse only the random, often ugly and tangled, threads on the reverse side of the great masterpiece God is weaving of our lives. It is hard to imagine beauty could emerge from the dark mess we have access to.
“Trust to God to weave your thread into the great web, though the pattern shows it not yet.” –George MacDonald
Once again, I’ve had occasion to wonder—and whine—about the latest setback in our plans to move. Always another delay, another unforeseen hurdle or hindrance. It’s oh-so-tempting to doubt, not God’s existence but His goodness and love. Is there any kind of point? Does He really have our best in mind? Or…even His best?
Ever so subtly, Satan nudges me to question God’s presence and to forsake His peace. How easily I forget that if my joy depends on perfect circumstances, I’ve lost it already. God may see a side I don’t, but He has no dark side. Because “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (I Jn. 1:5).
“Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.” –Unknown
Plot threads seen from the background of a story appear different as well. While editing Destiny at Dolphin Bay recently, I realized that the character Angélica De la Cruz changes practically before Melissa’s (and the readers’) eyes. Only…that’s not really what happens.
God’s unexpected appearance in Angie’s life is hardly the arbitrary hand of fate it seems. In Hope Chest, my work-in-progress, God also shows up, albeit behind the scenes. Despite the ongoing obstacles which make up her story, we see that God was there all the time. In His gracious and timely rescue, in the seeds of the gospel sown in her heart.
Seeing the Big Picture
“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. He plants His footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm.” –William Cowper
If you want to read some interesting comments, try typing “God’s mysterious ways” into your browser. You’ll find the usual positive thinking clichés, but surprises will pop up too.
- “God is a sneak.”
- “God’s mean and conniving.”
- “That’s a euphemism for ‘Stop asking hard questions.’”
- “Ineffective and breathtakingly cruel.”
- “That’s a smokescreen of mystery.”
Wow, I thought as I read. Just wow. Heartrending realities lurk behind those harsh remarks. Details so painful that any vision of a loving and present God has been blocked. The attack of humanity’s Great Antagonist has twisted the big story of “God with us” into the parody of “God’s against us.”
Isn’t that what Satan excels at—lying? And in our faithless desperation, we fall into believing his lies more than God’s truth. The subplots along life’s way distract from the main story. They deceive us, as we read our own story, into doubting God’s goodness. Somehow, instead of questioning those diabolic hisses, we accept them as more trustworthy than the Word of God:
“Ssstupid, sssilly…Princess—you? Who do you think you are—some kind of story heroine? What makes you so special that God would love you?”
No doubt about it, God’s ways make me wonder. His paths go past understanding. His moves ARE mysterious, and His plans and presence beyond fathoming.
“We cannot always trace God’s hand, but we can always trust God’s heart.” –Charles Spurgeon
Yet He’s there all the time. And doesn’t mystery and suspense create the best stories? The damsel in distress, under attack by the Enemy. Rescued by the Prince from “the pit of destruction” (Ps. 40:2) at the eleventh hour (more exciting at 11:59 ?). Then she’s carried off to his castle in the clouds.
Seeing the Invisible
These days we like a feistier heroine. Instead of crying, “Help! Help!”, today’s anguished damsel is supposed to rescue not only herself but everybody else. Maybe the Cinderella Syndrome is passé if we’re waiting for a human savior. But the sooner I give myself up for a goner without the Rescuer, the sooner I’ll discover His footsteps beside me.
Droplet Gift #28: I will trust in God’s presence whether or not I can see Him.
Do you remember the cooking magazine that promised a prize to the lucky reader who could locate the drawing of a needle within the pages of each issue? Cleverly camouflaged in the fine print, it was almost literally hidden in a haystack. I never could find it! Did you?
Invisible or not, “God…calls into being that which does not exist” (Rom. 4:17). Sometimes He shows up unexpectedly, and sometimes when I want Him, need Him, look for Him most—He seems absent and silent. But I’m sure He’s anything but.
He’s there all the time. Listening to my hard questions.
Joseph, after his experience of pit and prison, recognized that God had answers after all. “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Gen. 50:20). In Spanish, the word for “meant” is translated “encaminó.” Meaning God “showed the way, directed, guided, aimed at…God destined!”
God can carry my hot-and-bothered frustrations and frets. He meets and treats my melt-downs with mercy. He is there, able to sustain the weight of your disappointments and mine—our burdens and baggage—for the rest of our life journey.
“Be on the lookout for mercies. The more we look for them, the more of them we will see.” –Maltbie D. Babcock
Lord, don’t take me home… until my spiritual eyes are opened to the Lord of hosts–on my side.