I never cease to be amazed by the mysterious ways of God…that is, after I’m finished resisting and protesting them! Being human and flawed, and very much still a soul in process, I still wish sometimes (ok, often) that God would do things the way I think He should. Of course, this is not a conscious desire, but one He patiently exposes as I wrestle my way through each new leg of the journey He is leading me through. I can, happily, say that there has been growth. But I haven’t yet arrived at the place where I am able to embrace the mystery of His ways on the front end of my trials.
Today, I am standing in the middle of a magnificent storm. It’s one I can’t see my way through. Last week, I hid from its terrible, thunderous roaring – wishing it would just go away. This week, I have set my heart to stand in its gusts and watch to see what God will do in the midst of its ragings. I would, of course, preferred warm sunshine and gentle breezes. I like it when life, and faith, are comfortable and cozy. I know I have to be careful not to get too comfortable, lest I grow complacent and overindulge in what simply caters to my selfish nature. But I have also learned to appreciate that God has given us such times to freely enjoy…until the storm clouds begin to form again.
As the clouds in my sky are looming and booming, the story of Naaman, from 2 Kings chapter 5, speaks a great deal to me. I am reminded by it that, while I must always believe in the power of God’s Word to heal, deliver and transform any situation in my life, He reserves the right to do things in other, and often less appealing ways. I prefer the magic wand method, where He speaks and it is done. I am grateful to have some of those moments in my story, but I also have to be careful not to idolize those moments, and desire God’s methods above God Himself.
Though God could have given Elisha the prophet a direct Word and healed Naaman’s leprosy on the spot, He didn’t. Instead, He sent him to a filthy river and told him to take a bath there, dipping himself into the muck and mire seven times. For a man of Naaman’s stature, this was humiliating and probably seemed like a huge waste of time. I can relate. God has grown me, and raised me up into realms of responsibility which require much of me. Sometimes I forget that, despite my God-given roles and what I’ve been entrusted with, I am still a base human being in need of His humbling mercy. I still need to trust Him, and be willing to take the long route to wherever He is leading me, should that be His will. I still need to make room and time for the processes He chooses to use in my life. And I still need to prioritize seeking Him above doing for Him. If the storm leads me into a fresh encounter with Him, if the trip down and into the muddy river shows me something about the heart of God and heals my false perceptions of Him and of myself, it will always be worth it.
Thankfully, He knows when I need something other than the easy route, and reminds me often that I gave Him the reins to my life. He knows when I need to grow in humility and trust, and what road He needs to lead me down in order to get there. He knows when I need the frustrating journey to the muddy river, and the instructions that don’t make sense. And sometimes, while it will hopefully always change me, it may not even be about me. It may be about someone else in my story. It may even be about God and His glory.
I don’t always need to, or get to, know the reasons why God does things the way He does. And that is a huge part of my journey in growing and healing and becoming more like Him. I have to release my right to know, because it is tied to my need for control. And the need for control prevents me from knowing the heart of the One Who really is in control of all things. Adam and Eve discovered that, and passed it right on down the family line. To this day, our need to know often keeps us from tasting the fruit of the life God wants to lead us into. Our need to see it done a certain way, and our refusal to trust God’s ways keeps us stuck in cycles of struggling that are unnecessary, and keeps our promises from being realized in the most unimaginable places and ways.
Job got a lesson in letting go and letting God lead him through a crazy path to blessing and breakthrough bigger than He could have dared to ask for. So did Joshua, when he had to assemble his troops and march them around the walls of Jericho, without a word, for a week! Neither of these men ever received an explanation of God’s unconventional plans and hidden purposes. But they did receive encounters with Him. They did receive the fulfillment of promises they didn’t know how to possess before God led them into those deep and mysterious paths. They did come face to face with the God they could not comprehend, but still dared to believe. And my guess is that they would never trade what they received in those crazy journeys for a quick, easy fix to the issues they found themselves facing.
Dear Woman of Breakthrough, what situation are you facing today that is begging for a “just say the word” kind of solution? I encourage you to keep that faith, but to press on and into the perfect, mysterious will of God for your storm, and open yourself up to wait for His unsearchable ways. If you can’t see what He’s doing, and don’t understand why He’s allowing you to go through what you are, this is a great place to pull out a camping chair and take a seat – or stand – and watch for what He will choose to do.
One thing we can be certain of, even as we watch things unfold in ways we likely never thought they would: God is good, and He is faithful to keep His covenant with us. He is working for our good in every situation (Romans 8:28), and a major part of that good is maturing us so that we become more and more like Jesus with each new breath. Beloved One, He knows just where you need to grow, and His ways will reach down into your frightened places and draw out what He never put there, and lay into your foundation what He always meant for you to walk with. And that will only draw you closer to His heart.
You were made for relationship! This is not simply about the things that are happening to you and for you. It is about learning to trust the God Who is leading you, rebuilding you, and growing you into a Daughter whose heart is whole. Do not fear, Dear One! He will not abandon you in the twists and turns of this journey. And as you follow Him into and through what you can’t now understand, He will show Himself clearly to you. And you will, on the other side, possibly even long to go back into this dark and mysterious place, just to relive the encounter you experienced here!
He is a loving Father, Who knows the way that you are taking. And He will purify you like gold in this process. That was Job’s testimony (Job 23:10) in the middle of the woods he couldn’t see his way through. Can you hold onto that today, and go a little deeper into mystery so that you, too, will receive what God has reserved for you here? I believe in God’s grace to help you! It has been sufficient for me in the times, like these, when He hasn’t removed the painful process, the afflicting storm, the wounding thorn. And I have no regrets! Oh that you will sing the same song with me one day!!