Friday, February 1, 2008
Have you ever taken one of those personality tests? There are several different types out there. Some try to liken you to one of four animals, while others prefer to narrow you down to your primary personality characteristic. But regardless of the specific test, the concept behind each is generally the same. The goal is to give some measure of predictability to your personality type, in hopes that knowing which category you fall in will help you understand yourself a little bit better and possibly shed light on likely behavior patterns in the future.
When I was in high school I ate these up. I thought I wanted to be a psychologist, so these little test thingys were right down my alley. I figured it was best to know myself up and down before attempting to psycho analyze anyone else! Well, over time the dreams of me as psychologist drifted by the wayside, and my fervor for test taking fizzled out, but what has remained with me is a desire to feel like people, especially those I am close to, maintain some basic levels of predictability.
I'm as keen on spontaneity as the next person when it involves a surprise trip for my birthday or flowers on some ho-hum day of the week when I wasn't expecting them, but when it comes to most behaviors, I want to be able to know what to expect. I know Nathan through and through, his patterns, his reactions, his moods, and any big deviation from his normal sphere of “usual” would unnerve me. I think this is one of the biggest reasons I sometimes have a problem with God.
What started me thinking about this was a verse I read the other day from Psalm 77:19. It says, “Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and Thy footsteps are not known.” I know that God’s character is unchangeable. That His love, wisdom, mercy, and grace are the foundation I can build my life upon. But this verse also tells me that while He is the Rock of Ages, the ways He chooses to act are beyond predictability. Just as the sea leaves no trail to follow, God’s actions are untraceable. There is no formula to plug in or test to predict the works and ways of our Father. That can be a lot to swallow sometimes, especially when my concepts of what is “fair” sneak in and set up camp in my mind.
As I’ve watched the many girls in my life go through the process of losing their babies, the truth of this verse has been confirmed. No one’s story is exactly the same, despite the shared diagnosis of Trisomy 18. I am left without any explanation as to why I had Poppy 3 hours, while Copeland spent 8 days, Maddox just moments, Tristan 56 days, and Mary Grace 7 hours. Who could have predicted, much less make sense of the way God chose to work?
Hebrews 11 is a chapter that highlights the unpredictability factor in the works and ways of God. In these verses, the great heroes of the faith are listed. Many of these were witness to the miracles of God. Noah was delivered from the earth altering flood, Moses was saved from death at the hand of Pharoah, and Enoch was spared physical death as he was whisked straight form this world to heaven.
But then as the chapter progresses you get to a verse that begins, “but others.” With these words, the chapter segues into a long list of the people whose faith was just as great, but who did not experience the same kind of miracles from God. These saints of the faith were tortured, mocked, stoned, cut in two, starved, and the list goes on. God allowed these to suffer tremendously even though their faith was great. What does this say? Does God love them less than those He chose to save?
I can’t explain it, but I know it’s true. I know that God’s actions are not an indicator of his level of love for His children. Why He allows what He allows will always be a mystery because His ways are beyond human prediction. He is an enigma. Yet His character is unchanging and His promises are true. That is what I will hold on to.
ps: this picture is of my Papa with poppies in Switzerland. Grammy just found it today, and I loved it so much I wanted to share it with you.