Posted by: Phil Anderson | February 2, 2014

Mysterious Ways

“The Lord moves in mysterious ways.”

It’s an old saying that has a lot of meaning, acknowledging that although we may think we understand God and know what he’s doing, we often (even usually) don’t. It reminds me of a familiar story:

Bob was driving down a country road during a monstrous blizzard. His car slid out of control and into a snowbank. It was stuck fast and Bob had nothing to do but pray.

The next day, a snowmobile came by and found him. “Do you need help?” the driver asked.

“No, I’m okay,” Bob replied. “God will protect me.” The snowmobiler shrugged and kept going.

The following day a man on a dogsled found Bob. “Here’s a blanket. Get on the sled and I’ll take you back to town,” he said.

“Thanks,” Bob answered, “but I’m trusting God and waiting for him to rescue me.”

That night, Bob froze to death. When he got to heaven he asked God, “Why didn’t you help me?”

“I tried,” God explained. “I sent a snowmobile and and dogsled, but you refused their help.”

This story serves as a good warning for us when we assume we know what God is going to do and how he’s going to do it.

When I write, I’m the god of my own little world. I like to keep secrets from my characters and my readers, and generally it’s for dramatic effect, so I can reveal the answer at just the right time to make the most impact. I remember one particular scene in my play, Nothing But the Truth, in which I had to maintain three different perspectives: what the characters thought, what I wanted the audience to think, and what I knew was true. I’m kinda proud about how that dialogue turned out.

I don’t think God keeps secrets from us for dramatic effect (though I acknowledge that “the Lord moves in mysterious ways”). Most likely he wants to test our faith in him, or exercise it to make it stronger. Sometimes the things that we experience have nothing to do with us, but are going to impact someone else in an important way, so we don’t need to know what they’re about. Often I think that we wouldn’t be able to comprehend God’s plan if he did explain it to us.

So when things happen that you don’t understand, remember that you’re one small part of a bigger story. Trust in the author, that he knows what he’s doing. Maybe someday it will all make sense.

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