I often cannot see the guiding hand of God over the days, weeks, and months, but over the years it is crystal clear. I often identify any cascade of consecutive trials as an erosion of his covenant promises, but the dusk of each season of life finds him faithful once again.
“God doesn’t play games with us,” an elderly Christian once told me. God is not in heaven pulling arbitrary strings for maximum self-entertainment and minimum human enjoyment. He possesses a clear purpose and plan and marches forward in his relentless and effortless mission: he will get glory, and we will get good.
The intellectual non-believer begs to differ. He cannot countenance conflicting acts, cannot stomach the twists and turns of the epochal drama. He demands the denouement, even while his demand tightens the tension that will make its arrival so arresting.
We can beg to differ, or we can beg to delight.
The artist has colored the canvas by his own skill and sensibilities. His sophisticated color palate finds a competitor in those who think they see, but to the self-acknowledged blind it is beautiful. Since we need his lenses to appreciate his world, only the humble can love the ways of God.
Yes, the cosmos is strewn with sin, pain, and sadness. There is no pleasure in sin, no nobility in pointless pain. But where sight sees mismatched shards that slice and skew, faith sees a colorful mosaic whose rugged beauty requires the jagged shape and precise placement of each piece.
Never is such faith more difficult than when the jagged shape lacerates our own lives or when the precise placement presses against everything we hold dear. But never are we more refined than during these surgical lacerations or when the painful pressure molds us into a new and better shape.
We live in a world of smart phones, drive-thru, and unpixelated pornography. Nothing seems unavailable, nothing can be slow, and nothing is left to the imagination. We cannot believe that we don’t know best, or that we should have to wait for the best that we know.
Enter faith. Faith acknowledges unavailability, embraces delay, and hangs on imagination. We yield, we wait, and we anticipate. What you see is not what you get, and what you do not see is infinitely better than what you’ve ever gotten. The distasteful can even become delightful with time and perspective.
The years of our lives progressively unfurl the deep strategies God uses to embed his purposes and priorities into our hearts, to saturate our minds with his renewing Word, to burn the image of his Son into our psyche. Throughout these years, God is exercising his character on our behalf. And God’s ways mirror his character: often unseen and always underestimated, but forever perfect.
I can’t wait to look back and see all that I will see. But hindsight is not for today.
After all, everyone will see it then. But the faith-full see it now.
I will not live my life saying, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
No, I’ll believe it until I see it.