Gods Mysterious Ways
By Nancy Kreutzer
From the beginning of Creation, God has been masterfully working to establish His Kingdom and righteousness through the lives of people just like you and me who, by His grace, have surrendered to His Lordship. About twenty-five years ago He took my broken, sin-scarred life and sealed it with His beloved Spirit, giving me a new heart that’s not only able to see and hear His call to follow, but one that longs to see His Kingdom come and His will be done.
Together with Christ my spirit yearns for the fulfillment of His purposes, but my flesh often resists (Rom. 8:7). This internal conflict that Paul speaks about in Rom. 7:15 forms the reality of my daily life as I seek to take thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5) and resist the world, the flesh, and the devil so that I can joyfully follow God’s calling and produce fruit for His Kingdom.
One of the most difficult, yet incredibly amazing, aspects of living by faith has been coming to grips with God’s mysterious ways. Sometimes His will just feels right – like when He answers “yes” to a request I’ve been praying about for a long time, or when He delivers me from a difficult situation, showering me with unexpected blessings. When these scenarios play out, I’m able to marvel at His ability to masterfully control even the most intricate details of life, and contemplating His character brings great comfort.
At other times, God’s will is such a mystery that embracing it almost seems impossible. Often what I perceive to be His best is, in fact, the exact opposite of what He intends for me. On many occasions, I look at a situation with such certainly that He’s going to work it out one way, only to see that what I envisioned happening is not His plan at all. I pray and wait – wait some more and continue praying until the answer is clear. The initial shock comes when I begin to realize I’ve been wrong in trying to predict His mysterious ways and that what I’ve asked for wasn’t His will. When this happens, I tend to replay the scenario in my mind a thousand times trying to scour the details for any clues of hidden blessings in His decision. If I can’t find any, disappointment creeps in, and before I know it I’m questioning God’s wisdom and goodness – a dangerous and extremely miserable place to be.
Several years ago, God called our family to move to Korea, which meant leaving behind all that was familiar. We traded the certain for the unexpected – the comfortable for a season of challenging adjustments. After flying for nearly fourteen hours, we landed in a country we’d never visited to live among people whose language we didn’t speak and whose customs were completely different from ours. Because it was such a drastic change, I was tempted time and again to doubt God’s leading and the wisdom behind our decision to follow Him.
At home, life wasn’t always easy, but it contained elements of predictability that brought a sense of calm and stability. We were part of a culture that we loved and understood – one that accepted us and called us its own. Our house sat on a small patch of land, nestled among misty, blue mountains, and offering picturesque views of amazing sunsets. Simple beauty was within reach with waterfalls and forests, apple orchards and bubbling streams.
From a human perspective, trading such comfort and beauty for the unknown made absolutely no sense. I couldn’t fathom why God would call us to say goodbye to a life which felt so right in order to follow a calling that everything in my flesh rejected. I spent hours moving the puzzle pieces around trying to discern the picture He was drawing, but His wisdom eluded me every time. I tried logical reasoning until my brain ached, only to realize that no matter how much I analyzed my circumstances the results always ended in the mysterious.
The most remarkable part of experiencing this frustration was coming to a clearer understanding that His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are beyond my understanding (Is 55:8). By learning to accept that I will never be able to comprehend the mind and purposes of God beyond what He’s shown in Scripture, I began to experience freedom to live in Korea with joy, even on days when it didn’t make sense to me.
Part of learning to trust Him and surrender my plans and demands to His sovereign and mysterious grace is proclaiming in prayer, “I’ll go where You want me to go and do what You want me to do, even if it involves hardship. You’re my Lord and my God, and I belong to You” (Jn. 20:28). It’s not a prayer of defeat but one of extraordinary freedom as I’m able to release what I perceive as what is best and embrace His wonderful plans for a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11).
As God guides me by His Spirit, He often calls me down roads which look way too risky from a human perspective. He sometimes leads me through doors that are extremely narrow, while adjacent ones are wide open and beckoning for me to enter. He many times directs my steps on paths that are uncertain, while alongside them lay trails that promise ease.
I’ve discovered that I’m frequently seeking different goals altogether from what the Spirit wants to fulfill in my life. In my flesh I intensely long for safety, and yet He’s called me to a life of adventure and dependence on Him so that I can learn to walk in His loving presence. He allows trials and suffering to grow me into the likeness of His Son; I want to cling to comfort and the familiar so that I can relax and simply enjoy my life. He wants to test my character so that I become mature and complete, lacking in nothing (Js. 1:4); I often long for life in the trenches of the familiar where I don’t have to change. He wants me go into the enemy’s territory, where many are existing without hope, so that I can share with them the life transforming message of salvation and redemption (Jn. 16:15); I’m tempted to retreat into a safe place where I can spend time with people who are friendly and predictable.
God desires that I consider all of life from an eternal perspective so that I’m able to embrace His Kingdom plans and release of my own (Mt 6:33). In my flesh, I want to see the world from a merely physical point of view, storing up earthy treasures so I have a sense of security and power. He wants me to surrender my whole being – body, soul, and mind – to His will so so that He can use my life to bear much fruit and glorify His name (Jn. 15:16). However, I struggle with wanting to be in control, so that I can receive the praise and honor of people rather than giving the glory to God. He wants me to love and bless my enemies – those who despitefully use me and try to hurt me (Matt. 5:44). Yet I often plead with Him to first change them, to make them more lovable and desirable. And finally, He wants me to give thanks and praise even when I’m hurting and disappointed and don’t understand His mysterious ways (1 Thess. 5:18), though many times I’m tempted to wait for my circumstances to be transformed before praising Him.
In His amazing, infinite wisdom He knows that unless I daily walk by faith, trusting Him with all my heart, I’ll forfeit the grace-filled, fruitful life He has designed for me (Pr. 3:5-6, Heb. 11:6). I don’t know about you, but when I reach the end of this journey, I don’t want to look back with regrets that I missed out on innumerable blessings because I was afraid to trust God’s goodness in spite of my lack of understanding His mysterious ways. Instead, I want to cling to Him with confidence and certainty that His love is so high and long and wide and deep that I can fully trust Him no matter what (Eph. 3:18). As I abide in His love, I’m able to enjoy abundant life and am free to approach each day with a sense of joyful expectancy, watching as He accomplishes not only the mysterious but also the miraculous.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out (Rom. 11:33)!