God’s Secrets

Have you discovered yet that God doesn’t always tell you everything? Jeremiah 29:11 is often quoted but I am not sure we have truly got its message. “I know the plans for you, declares the Lord” may mean that we don’t know them. Jeremiah, like many of us, had to be secure in the knowledge that God had good things in store for him but that access to the divine details would be partial at best and very much on a “need to know basis”. Walking with the Saviour is not so much about getting revelation, but learning to trust Father’s good hand when clutched in the dark place. We serve a God who is both the “revealer of mysteries” (Daniel 2:47) and the keeper of many secrets (Deuteronomy 29:29).

I recently got married to the wonderful Jane but I have spent a good deal of my Christian life as a single man. It’s tricky being single in church, not least because you get invited to terrifying singles’ events and made to sit next to people whom the group organisers have kindly predestined for you. A missionary once said to me, “I want you to meet my sister. You might make a good couple” I asked him, “Does she know that I am not the most attractive cup in the cupboard?” to which he replied, “Oh don’t worry about that. Neither is she”. I never did meet her. I think I zoomed away in the car.

While I was a poor romantic, even worse was my friend Shaun; a man so hopeless when it came to dating ladies that he sometimes asked me to come along with him! I remember joining Shaun on his “second date” to visit a nice lady in her home. The lady had been married before and had a charming seven-year-old daughter. During the evening, the little girl ran in from the kitchen and asked Shaun if she could start calling him “Daddy”. He agreed but I sat there stunned, as this was only their second meeting. Later in the car I challenged Shaun about how serious he felt about this relationship, as I didn’t want this little girl to get hurt. Ever honest, Shaun admitted that he wouldn’t be getting married to the lady as he didn’t love her. I strongly advised him as his friend and his pastor to end it as soon as he could, which he did.

News of my recent interference in Shaun’s love-life spread throughout the church, and the saints were outraged at my so-called “heavy shepherding” leadership style. “Who does Peter think he is?” was one notable quote. “How dare he tell Shaun who to date?” was another. My favourite was “What does he know about love anyway?”

Now of course, I knew what they didn’t know: that Shaun had no real affection for the family and they had no dream future together. He was never going to be “daddy” to that little girl. Hurting, I went to God in prayer. How unfair all this was! I looked like the villain, but what I had done had been for the good, based upon facts that the church folks didn’t and shouldn’t know.

In my pain, a revelation shone into my mind and heart. There were no bright lights and no audible voices. But it was as though God said to me in an instant: “Son, I face this all the time. I am forever closing off harmful doors but I can’t always share the reasons why. The people grow angry with me too. But I am motivated by love, not by popularity.”

Instantly, I recalled all those times when my own fervent prayers had remained unanswered, leaving me confused, maybe even angry with God. Terrible though this is, I suspect that suppressed anger and frustration with the Lord’s dealings in our lives is not uncommon away from the “Hallelujah Sunday” masks. But here is the truth. God is love. God is kind and powerful. He also has an aerial view of our lives and knows which motorways to shut off to us, even when we don’t have a spiritual radio to tell us why. Red traffic lights may be thoroughly unwanted by motorists but they prevent innumerable crashes and fatalities every hour of the day.

If and when God has closed a door, or has not responded to our perceived need, it is only because He has a wiser take on it. Unlike us, He is always in possession of all the facts. Job said he would trust God even “though he slay me” (Job 13:15). What faith! So, instead of feeling that heaven has done you an injustice, why not reach for His loving hand and audibly say “I trust you Lord. Today and always.” His rod and His staff will comfort you. His plans are to give you a hope and a future. And yes, you can call him “Daddy”.

Originally published in JOY Magazine, November 2007

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