Mystery. It’s something we enjoy in movies, but in life, well that’s a different story. There is mystery all around us. There is mystery in creation, in relationship, in dreams, in our work places and in relation to God. Mystery makes us uncomfortable. Most of us, self included, really like to know facts. I love certainties and am comfortable with knowing where things are going and how I’m going to get there.
Although my life doesn’t always show it, mystery can make me uncomfortable. I feel like the more I walk in trust of Jesus, the more mystery I find myself in. My idea of trust and obedience is: being told where to go or what to do and going and doing as told, and repeat. It is a system, an organized movement forward that I can know I’m building on something and growing spiritually, professionally and personally. Life, when it is responsibly lived always moves in a forward motion, right? Isn’t that how it is supposed to work? Much like stairs going up, an arrow shooting ahead, a map leading somewhere, being invited to trust and step obediently is to propel me, us, forward in a systematic fashion that draws me closer to a goal.
That idea simply doesn’t play out well for me. No, life is not as neat and tidy as a map, an arrow or stairs it is much more messy. I have come to know God doesn’t always work within human standards and norms. He is larger in view and deeper in understanding. He knows exactly what we each need to create the picture and story he desires our life to be and tell. I don’t think an arrow would tell my story of trust and obedience well, but I do think a connect the dots game would.
Each dot holds with it an invitation to trust and obey. Each dot adds to a picture that is being created with my life. This is where mystery comes in. There are times when the dots go in a nice and orderly forward motion. Then, out of nowhere, seems to come a dot that takes me backwards. A dot that seemingly takes me away from my goal. A dot that takes me in the opposite direction of human success. Mystery.
Why would God invite me to move backwards? Why would he take away? Why would he actually ask me to obediently follow him in the opposite way of success? Mystery.
Every dot in a connect the dots game is important. Each dot adds to a picture that is being created. Each dot adds depth, dimension, and clarity to the picture. Each dot has equal value. Each dot denotes movement. When I choose to trust that God is at work and he invites me to obediently follow him in a way contrary to forward movement, I must believe that he is creating a picture with my life that needs this dimension or turn.
I’m still figuring this out. I’m still learning to trust that God invites us to obedience for our good, for the good of those around us and for the grander picture of what he is wanting to paint with our lives, my life. So yes, I may take one step forward and two steps back, but whose to say those two steps back aren’t actually, in reality, forward steps…. steps toward the completion of the picture God is wanting to create with my life.
It isn’t easy. Trust and obedience are in fact extraordinarily difficult. But the outcome of obedience is always good.
Tonight I’m going to create a connect the dots map of the past years of my life and see, as I look back, what God might be creating.
Have you ever felt a step of obedience was a step backwards? Did you take the step anyway? How might you engage obedience differently if you thought of life as a connect the dots game, rather than a systematic set of stairs or map leading you forward?