29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the way God works. I know, not exactly the easiest topic to navigate early in the morning, but with so many unknowns in my life right now, it’s a relevant topic for me to try and grasp.
You see, there’s the often predictable ways that God works, the common laws that God invites us to so that we might live to our fullest. You know, the 10 commandment type of laws, the principle of reaping what you sow, the maxim that if you eat at McDonalds everyday you likely will have health issues – these all fall under the rubric of God’s revealed will.
God wants me to be faithful to my wife. God wants me to live with integrity in my finances and truth-telling.
I understand these because they’re as clear as day.
It seems like 75% of my decisions can usually fall under some simple, revealed guidelines by God so that I can best follow a wise course of action.
But oh, there’s that 25% that drives me nuts. The secret stuff that God is doing that is out of my control and I have to – gasp – trust Him.
What’s crazy is that sometimes I can follow God’s revealed will to a tee, and somehow, I don’t end up in the place I thought I would be.
Has that ever happened to you? You obeyed to the best of your ability, and now you’re in a place that seems worse off than before.
Illnesses. Changes in the economy. Other peoples’ decisions and behaviors. Death.
The secret stuff can be pretty demoralizing.
And yet, God does some of his deepest work in the secret stuff.
I read recently from St. John of the Cross that the reason God works in secrecy and darkness is because if he didn’t, then 1) we would try to take control of the process, or 2) we would jump ship and stop the process altogether.
Yep, that sounds about right.
I want to be in control of my fate and I don’t like following another person’s direction.
And these are the very things that God wants to purge out of me.
I realize that with God, before “obeying”, there’s the issue of “trusting”. The Christian life is not “obey and trust”, it’s “trust and obey”, and the deepest way we really learn to trust is when it comes to navigating through the secret stuff.
When there are so many unknowns swirling around me about my present, my future, and what to make of the past… When the road ahead seems bleaker than it’s ever looked before, like an endless desert with no sign of respite… When I suffer and grieve and get heartbroken… these instances are when the substance of “trusting” is really put through the fire.
St. John of the Cross also writes that whenever one endures suffering or questions or doubts God’s ways, he or she is to simply look to the cross and be silent.
Just look to the cross and don’t say a word.
Sounds a lot easier than it really is.
I suppose that’s where maturing trust first starts though – at a cross where we see a God who dies on our behalf. We’re quieted by that truth, instead of wanting to take matters into our own hands.
It’s like God says, “You can trust me with the secret stuff because I love you enough to die for you.”
“So just relax. Trust me. It’s going to be okay.”
Ah yes, it really is going to be okay.
Romans 8:28, 32
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose… 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Postscript: The reality is, so many others around the world don’t wrestle so much with God’s will because the lot that’s been handed to them is pretty narrow. One of the luxuries of being in the richest country on the planet is the plethora of options before me, which is something I am so grateful for and intend to take full advantage of. But yeah, it’s nice to get some perspective once in awhile about what others in the world are experiencing… and to look at the cross and be silent.