Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” (Romans 11:33-35)
As a child, I relished the opportunity to play the game of Clue. From a very young age, I remember my mom and sister playing, so I wanted to learn the moment I was old enough. Colonel Mustard and Professor Peacock were intriguing to say the least. And Miss Scarlet, with her lead pipe, was utterly scandalous.
I loved the idea of being a detective, writing my secret notes, all the while determining the exact culprit, location, and weapon hidden in that tiny manila envelope that read “Top Secret.” And the best part, making an accusation, declaring before all those present my brilliant ability to crack the case.
Sometimes I think I live my life with God kind of like a game of clue. I so long to understand this God, what He’s doing in my life, what His plans are. I attempt to determine His work in my little world and pin it all down to a conclusion that makes sense to my finite understanding.
I assign God motives and tell Him what He’s up to. I get my hopes up and let my expectations sky-rocket, assuming He’s given me certain promises that maybe He never gave me at all.
I come up with plans for my future, guessing they’re probably His plans too. I try to figure out His paths, and when His plans don’t fit into the blueprints I’ve laid out, I’m ultimately disappointed.
A.W. Tower says it like this…
Left to ourselves we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms. We want to get Him where we can use Him, or at least know where He is when we need Him. We want a God we can in some measure control.
And that’s me. Trying to fit God into that little manila envelope I’ve crafted in my mind. Jumping to conclusions and summing His work in my life down to a great accusation, until He doesn’t do what I told Him He was doing. And this God I’ve created…I realize He’s no God at all. He’s the product of my own deductions.
I think it’s so natural and normal for us to want to understand God. I think it’s right and good that we should pay attention to what He’s doing in our lives, prayerfully consider how He may be speaking to us, step into the plans He has for us. For me, the problem arises when I jump the gun.
I’ve been around the board of my life a few times, searching for clues. I’ve rolled the dice, paid attention, and made some “suggestions” to God about what He may be doing. I’ve checked different boxes in the notepad of my mind, attempting to discern how God may be at work, all the while telling myself I’m fully surrendered to His will.
Until His will doesn’t seem to match mine. I’ve made an accusation that doesn’t match what He’s actually doing. And all the detective work of my life comes up wrong. So, I’m disappointed. Sometimes I’m devastated.
And yet, I know this about God. I know the old hymn declares…
Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes…
Or as the Romans passage states, He is deep and unsearchable. His paths beyond tracing out. In many ways, He is incomprehensible to a mind like mine.
Or as the Apostle Paul writes…
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
I know in part, and yet I so long to know the whole. The whole of who He is. The revelation of the mysteries around me and all that doesn’t make sense. The whole of His plans for me, the whole of what lies ahead. And so I go about my detective work, only to realize again…
Who has known the mind of the Lord? Certainly not me.
So, why the mystery? Why the confusion? Why the need to discern, only to find that so often my discerning is altogether wrong?
Until it dawns on me. Were it possible for me to fully comprehend Him, He would cease to be God at all. And one thing more. Were I to fully comprehend Him, were I to understand it all, were He to reveal the “whole” that I long for to me…there would be no need to trust.
And so I’m told…
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5,6)
So much of the detective work of my life is summed up in this. I lean on my own understanding. I want to figure it all out. Because trusting feels scary. Unknowing is uncomfortable. And I want to know where I’m headed.
But He wants more for us. He wants our trust.
Because when we trust Him, we can rest. We can put our thinking, our figuring, our searching to rest. Instead of leaning on our own understanding, we can lean on Him. Let Him lead the way, believing our best life is found in Him and all He has for us. Not in some tiny manila envelope that holds our own conclusions.
I don’t want to serve a God that fits neatly into my detective book and can easily be comprehended by a finite mind like mine. I want a bigger God. I want a God who gives me clues to who He is, attributes that I can hang onto when I need to trust.
Things like knowing He is good. That He is faithful. That He has my best at heart. That He loves me, receives me, knows me better than I know myself.
That He is infinite, yet ever-present, and all-knowing. That He is mighty, merciful, compassionate and so full of grace. That He is always, always at work for good.
These are the things I’ll write in the detective book of my life, the things that I know to be true of my God. And then, I’ll trust. Trust that He can make my paths straight, if I’ll only lean on Him.
And I’ll save my detective work for Colonel Mustard, in the Lounge, with the Candlestick. Because that tiny manila envelope on that little board, that I can handle. My life, well, it’s better off in His hands.
What about you?
What has your experience of discerning God’s ways been like?
What helps you to trust in times of unknowing?