Have you ever felt the need to explain or to solve?
I do, all the time.
I’m constantly trying to solve and fix. Like me, you might credit your passion to solve as leadership. Which of course, is very good.
However, I’m not referring to it in this way.
I’m referring to the times when things are uncertain. For example - When you are misunderstood and there’s nothing you can do to remedy. When business isn’t going well, and your not sure what’s next. When there has been a loss of some kind, whether a person, a job, a deal, a plan - And your not sure why it’s transpiring the way it is. When you feel God leading you to something but you cannot see beyond step one, and the fact you can’t see beyond… well, it’s just that, it’s unresolved.
How do you handle times like these??
We both might agree that there might not be anything more frustrating or testing of one’s faith and endurance, then the lingering pain of waiting it through the unresolved - because you are met with irritations, afflictions and disappointments – and this is, painful.
I recently read a cheesy quote in the bathroom at my Trader Joe’s (of all places):
“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning how to dance in the rain.” –Unknown
Although the quote is very cheesy, the statement proposed is a challenge.
Why does the storm have to happen in the first place? Why do things transpire the way they do?
When you are in the middle it can feel nothing more than a mystery, and you can be left to ask “Why?” I know that’s not the most faith filled question to ask, but to be honest, I’ve asked God that question. At those moments, I’ve been led to scriptures like these:
“Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother's womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.” – Ecclesiastes 11:5
And this one:
“’My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’” Isaiah 55: 8-9
While we can be absolute certain God is always up to something GOOD, it’s safe to say, we cannot always understand the activity of God. It at times is a mystery, and there is so much of it that we will experience.
Eugene Peterson wrote this in his book, The Contemplative Pastor,
“Life is not so much a problem to be solved as a mystery to be explored.
That is certainly the biblical stance: life is not something we manage to hammer together and keep in repair by our wits; it is an unfathomable gift.
We are immersed in mysteries: incredible love, confounding evil, the creation, the cross, grace, God.
The secularized mind is terrorized by mysteries. Thus it makes list, labels people, assigns roles, and solves problems.
But a solved life is a reduced life. These tightly buttoned-up people never take great faith risks or make convincing love talk. They deny or ignore the mysteries and diminish human existence to what can be managed, controlled, and fixed.
We live in a cult of experts who explain and solve. The vast technological apparatus around us gives the impression that there is a tool fore everything if we can only afford it.”
This excerpt from his book proposes such a great point, that humans are constantly trying to solve – rather than let mystery exist.
Our culture has learned to reject mystery in our efforts to feel in control and safe. And in light of this, we have eliminated God - because He cannot be explained or solved.
We are uncomfortable with that which we cannot control, and with that which we cannot explain - uncomfortable with life’s pauses and points of ambiguity.
If we, as Eugene says, “become accomplices in treating every child as a problem to be figured out, every spouse as a problem to be dealt with, every clash of wills in choir or committee as a problem to be adjudicated, we abdicate our most important work, which is directing worship in the traffic.”
Fixing is good, and that is the quality of good leadership. However, there comes a point in our faith that we are just suppose to let things be - in the name of letting God be God.
We have to learn be ok with the elements of mystery - To explore it, rather than to reject it - to welcome it, rather than deny it.
In Psalms 101, Davis writes this psalm.
“My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.”
Even David contented to keep his heart in full trust of God. Here was man declared king, but spent 13 years in the shadows being mistreated by Saul, constantly forcing him to run and hide for his life.
I’m sure David was tempted to figure out how God would bring His plans to pass - “Lord, are you sure I’m suppose to be King, after all these years it hasn’t happened?” Even at one point, David asks the King of Moab “Please let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do for me,” (1 Samuel 22).
Till I know – What a powerful line that is for you and me. Even David wasn’t privy to HOW everything would transpire. David was left in limbo – Mystery. Uncertainty. Ambiguity.
How did he overcome the temptation to take things within his own hands? How did he not run off on God and blame him for the hard times he endured under the leadership of Saul? How did he keep his heart pure and blameless through the irritations, affliction, and disappointments he faced?
Psalms 101 is a window into the heart and perspective of King David.
“I do not concern myself with great matters or things to wonderful for me”:
“As a private man he (David) did not usurp the power of the king or devise plots against Saul: he minded his own business, and left others to mind theirs. As a thoughtful man he did not pry into things unrevealed; he was not speculative, self-conceited or opinionated. As a secular person he did not thrust himself into the priesthood as Saul had done before him, and as Uzziah did after him. It is well so to exercise ourselves unto godliness that we know our true sphere, and diligently keep to it. Many through wishing to be great have failed to be good: they were not content to adorn the lowly stations which the Lord appointed them, and so they have rushed at grandeur and power; and found destruction where they looked for honour.“ – Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David
Speculative - self-conceited – opinionated - He didn’t thrust himself into the priesthood.
I cringed the first time I read that because I felt I was guilty of these things. Trying to figure out or take matters into my own hands isn’t much different then thrusting myself into the priesthood position. In my naivety, whether under my breath or spoken out loud, voiced opinions I should have just been silent about.
“I’ve quiet and calmed myself”:
Let the mystery “smooth down the roughnesses of one's self-will… It is no easy thing to quiet yourself: sooner may a man calm the sea, or rule the wind, or tame a tiger, than quiet himself. We are clamorous, uneasy, petulant; and nothing but grace can make us quiet under afflictions, irritations, and disappointments.” -Charles Spurgeon
When we don’t get our way - it’s painful. When want the answers or the details we wish, but don’t get them- it’s painful. When uncomfortable situations linger – it’s painful. When we’re left to wait – it’s painful.
However, this is the moment of maturity. And in that pain, we are being refined. In our points of ambiguity and uncertainty it is smoothing down the roughness of our self-will.
There are so many times that will feel like we are left in the dark, and our only ability, is to go off the small nudges from God – will that be enough for you and I? So might I add, for one to successfully be prepared for the journey ahead, one must come to terms that, at times, there might be so much of life that will be unexplainable - so many questions unanswered - and so much of life not figured out this side of heaven.
But, like a weaned child, “I am content.”
“To the weaned child his mother is his comfort though she has denied him comfort. It is a blessed mark of growth out of spiritual infancy when we can forego the joys which once appeared to be essential, and can find our solace in him who denies them to us: then we behave manfully, and every childish complaint is hushed. If the Lord removes our dearest delight we bow to his will without a murmuring thought; in fact, we find a delight in giving up our delight. This is no spontaneous fruit of nature, but a well-tended product of divine grace: it grows out of humility and lowliness, and it is the stern upon which peace blooms as a fair flower.” – Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David
Can you learn to dance in the rain?
Let the well-tended product of divine grace produce something great in you. The friction you might feel is refining and is bringing you to a place absolute trust in God, so that you can confidently say:
I don’t need to know it all.
I don’t have to have the answers.
I don’t always have to figure it out or solve.
I am ok with the unresolved.
And I am ok with mystery of God.
God is in control and He is good.
I don’t need to know it all. I don’t have to have the answers. I don’t always have to figure it out or solve. I can be ok with the unresolved. And I can ok be with mystery. God is in control and He is good.
Roman’s 8 says this:
22-25 All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
26-28 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
Waiting does not diminish us.
While we might not see in what ways we are being enlarged in - we are. The waiting and the persevering through what can feel like unresolved issues all around us, is doing something in us. Perfection will only be in Heaven. Here on earth, there we live in a fallen world. Everything and everyone aches and groans for full deliverance.
But He gives us peace for the journey. Peace while waiting. Peace in the unresolved. He helps us catch our breath. The Spirit of God is right along side you and me, praying for us through our wordless sighs and our aching groans. He will keep us.
You can bank on this promise found in Isaiah 49:15:
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”
We are not forgotten. We are engraved in the hands of God and He is watching over us and guiding our every step – He doesn’t need our help getting us to where we are suppose to be.
Our job is simply: to trust.