A friend recently quoted me this:
“When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on or we will be taught to fly.” – Patrick Overton
There may have been a time when I agreed fully with Mr. Overton. I don’t anymore. Why? Because God’s deliverance just doesn’t nicely fit the way we imagine or would like it to be.
Remember how the disciples thought they were ‘in’ because they acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah? Yet they could not have anticipated or understood the way in which Jesus was to be Messiah. They expected a conquering hero who would triumph over injustice and sin through might. Instead they were rudely confronted with a suffering servant who was “despised, the lowest of men, a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering, one from whom we averted our gaze, despised, for whom we have no regard.” (Is 53:2-3)
How many people grapple with these questions – How could a loving Father let His beloved Son die? What kind of a God would ask Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac? If God is good, why is there so much evil in the world? If God loves me, why would he let me suffer?
There is a reason why it is termed “the mystery of faith”. For as long as we are asking these questions, we are still hoping to apprehend God from a safe distance with our intellect. But God says to us, “If you wish to know the answers to your questions, follow me.” The deepest and most burning questions of our hearts can only be answered by entering into relationship with God.
Like the apostles, we will probably get it wrong many times. We will have moments where we witness the wonders God can do and we think “This is it! God is powerful and almighty and He takes away all my pains and illness!” But for a true maturing of faith, we would also need to experience Good Friday when all our cleverly constructed understanding of God gets smashed to smitherins. Our faith will be shaken. We will betray our Lord against our best intentions. We will tremble in terror and confusion when the Messiah whom we need to be all-powerful and mighty in order to save us defies our expectations and allows himself to be humiliated, tortured, and crucified. We will have to learn through excruciating experience that there is no bypassing Calvary. Death must come before new life.
God defies us. We long for God to come as a comforting balm, and He comes as a purifying fire. We long for tranquility, and He brings the sword of Truth into our lives (Mt 10:34). We ask for healing, hoping for a quick cure without pain, and He tells us to take up our crosses and follow him (Mt 16:24).
We cannot come into contact with fire and not be burnt. We cannot choose to follow Christ and not have our world turned inside-out and upside-down. Upheaval and turmoil will surely be part of the journey for the unconditional love of God is also the transforming love of God. Let noone be misled into thinking that God’s mercy comes without the sting of truth, or that He would be content to leave our souls in a state of slavery or disease. His ways are not our ways. The peace that He brings which the world cannot give is a peace beyond our understanding.
If we think we know how God works, we are still far from knowing Him. There comes a time for every disciple when we learn to die to any knowledge or expectation of how God works in our life and simply learn to let God BE.
It’s a lesson of a lifetime.
“The message of the cross is folly for those who are on the way to ruin, but for those of us who are on the road to salvation it is the power of God. As scripture says: I am going to destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of any who understand.
Where are the philosophers? Where are the experts? And where are the debaters of this age? Do you not see how God has shown up human wisdom as folly? Since in the wisdom of God the world was unable to recognise God through wisdom, it was God’s own pleasure to save believers through the folly of the gospel.
While the Jews demand miracles and the Greeks look for wisdom, we are preaching a crucified Christ: to the Jews an obstacle they cannot get over, to the gentiles foolishness,but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, a Christ who is both the power of God and the wisdom of God.” – 1 Cor 1: 18-25