** This is written as part of the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday **
It may sound overly self-deprecating, but if I’m being entirely honest I’ll tell you that I’m not that smart. Really, truly. Time and time again I have thought life situations through, made plans, budgeted, strategized, plotted… only to see my plans go up in smoke.
My foolishness is not limited to planning. How about praying? As I look back over my life I’m utterly horrified to think of some of the things I have actually prayed for. In retrospect, I simply cannot believe some of the things that I really thought it would be a good idea to ask God to give me. Hindsight being what it is, I can see how many of my requests that I brought to God were totally foolish.
Sometimes the things I have wanted were silly. Other times they were evil. Sometimes I was honestly misled and disillusioned. Other times I think I knew subconsciously that what I wanted was wrong, but still wanted it bad enough that I thought maybe if I prayed, God could figure out a way to give it to me in a way that would be good. Whether I realized it in the moment or not, that’s dumb.
Sometimes God has given me the foolish things I sought; other times not. Sometimes this has been his discipline; other times it has been his gracious condescending benevolence overcoming my near-sighted selfishness.
As I look back now over all my life and all the things God has given and all the things God has withheld, the only thought I’m left with is this: he is wise, I am not. He acts for a purpose, and his ways are good. In all the dispensations of his providence in my life, no matter how they felt in the moment, I have always consistently seen his wisdom. My wife, my kids, my sin, my growth, my church, my house, my van, my family, the divorce of my parents, the weather: in everything I have seen his wisdom. His thoughts are not mine; I don’t know them ahead of time, and often I don’t know them in retrospect, but what I do know is that what I see is wisdom.
Of course, I’m thankful for that because it highlights the gospel for me again. Who would think of honour through shame? Who would imagine a king who is exalted to his throne by way of a cross? Who could fathom the one sinned against becoming the sin so that the sinner might become the righteousness of God? Who could look ahead, declaring the end from the beginning, announcing the victory of Jesus at very moment of humanity’s fall? Who could use rebellious enemies to accomplish his perfect plan? Who would send his Son to die so that he might redeem from death his now adopted sons & daughters?
His ways are not my ways, and his thoughts are not my thoughts. I’ve seen this in my life; I’ve seen it in the gospel. Now I pray that if God gives me another 30 years on this planet, that I would live like I believe he is wise. I pray that he would give me grace to not lean on my own understanding, but to acknowledge him in all my ways, believing that he will make my paths straight. I cannot understand him, this I know; but I can trust him, because I know he is wise.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Rom 11.33-36, ESV)