034 | In Reverse It All Makes Sense

In Old Testament times before Jesus was born when someone heard a prophet speak or read from a scroll of scripture they may have found some of the information about the coming Messiah confusing. The small nuggets of information reveled about where the Messiah would come from and live probably seemed random and just a little conflicting. One prophet would say the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, then they would hear He would be a Nazarene, and then that He would come from Egypt.

As you may be aware I am journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. I am on number 34 of the 100 passages. In the last sentence of his reflection on this passage Kuniholm writes "God always knows what he is doing in our lives, even when his plan isn't so clear to us."

When he [King Herod] had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written..." (Matthew 2:4-5)
...an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son." (Matthew 2:13-15)
But when he [Joseph] heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene." (Matthew 2:23-23)
Through the course of many many years God reveled specific facts through various prophets about the coming Messiah. A small piece of the puzzle here and one there, through this person, then through that person. Small seemingly random pieces of God's master rescue plan. Without all the pieces in place it may have seemed quite confusing, even conflicting.

One may come away wondering "would the Messiah be Nazarene or a resident of Bethlehem or was the coming Messiah going to be an Egyptian?"

I often see various things in my life that seem random, confusing, and even conflicting and wonder how does this all fit together. I examine situations in my life or those close to me and question why. Why Lord? it doesn't make sense. Why am I like this or that? Why did this happen, or that? Why am I not like this, or that? How do these things work together, fit together? What is God's plan for me, for my family? How does all this stuff, my personality traits, my interests, life situations, failures, successes, friends, and family fit together in my life? How is all this stuff going to come together to be God's will for me?

My need to have all of the pieces of my life together and worked out so I understand completely simply gets in the way of my faith in God. My need to know just how it all fits together distorts my faith somewhat.

I have seen glimpses of the puzzle. I have looked back at things that have happened and seen a few of the pieces fitted together. I have seen why this or that took place and why I am have a certain personality trait. In hindsight I have seen God use my fears, and misguided words and actions to arrive at His will for me at a certain point in time. These glimpses encourage me. They remind me that God is at work.

Philip Yancey has such a way with words. He writes in his book "Disappointment with God" that "Faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse."

God is at work and instead of needing to know all the details of the plan, the pieces of the puzzle, I just need to trust Him today. Grab hold of what I know today, follow Christ, and trust God as he puts all the pieces together.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)

| More on the Essential Jesus journey. |

photo credits: The top photo in this article is titled "looking back" and was uploaded to Flickr.com by motone on January 14, 2009. The next photo in this article is titled "rompecabezas" and was uploaded to Flickr.com by condormx on May 15, 2007.


  1. Brad,

    I've just learned of you through Angie Banz's site. Thank you for your kindness about my blog, uncommon ordinary and some of the words there.

    This place of yours looks amazing. I will be back to mosey.

  2. I like that satement, "God always knows what he is doing in our lives even if it isn't so clear to us." I can relate to that b/c so often our kids don't understand what we as the parents are trying to do in their lives. We know what our goals/plans/prayers are for the children, but it isn't so clear to them! Good thoughts, thanks. (I linked here from I don't remember where!)

  3. So many times we wonder why we were laid off from work or lost our job...only to figure out later that we were "needed" elsewhere. Then there are those that have lost their homes and then see that God wanted to take them somewhere better.

    That Yancey quote is a truth that we would all do well to learn. Thanks for sharing!

  4. This reminds me of a verse, I believe it's in Ecclesiastes, which states, He has made all things beautiful, in His time. The God of all creation, how could He NOT make all things beautiful in my life: but in His time, not mine:)

  5. What an important post! I have found it can be so encouraging if from time to time I look back and see how God has been working in my life - I find journalling helps with this - there is always a pattern that makes sense. It helps me see from God's perspective and look forward withn Him.

  6. I also meant to say - as an aside - that this blog design is excellent. I bow down to your superior expertise.

  7. It is all about wisdom and perspective. Parenting is a great analogy, WARREN. God has perfect wisdom and perfect perspective.

    Glad you stopped by LAURE. Uncommon ordinary is wonderful blog. I will be sure to read more of your poetry. For those who have not been there check it out. I admire those who can say so much, with so few words, so beautifully.

    Those things that happen in our lives like losing jobs or homes seem so wrong at the time, but in hindsight it may look so right. Thanks CHRISTY. Boy you hit the nail on the head for me right now. I have not lost my job or my home, but the future of my job & company is very uncertain. So this is a great reminder for me.

    Beauty in His time. Amen. Thanks STEVE for dropping by and commenting.

    This blog is my devotional journal. Before this I never journaled. I have always stayed away from writing, but you are so right WAYFAREJON, journaling is a great help. Thanks for your complement on my blog design. Very encouraging.

  8. One day a student came to my office and said: "I hear you go to church." I said, "Yep." He said, "We'd like to check it out." So I told him our church's address. About a week later he came back to my office: "We looked for it last Sunday but couldn't find it." Of course he was not to blame; at the time the church met on the second floor of a community center located on a busy street. So I told him again. The following week he found it, and he and his wife became a regular part of that congregation for years. That was many years ago. I look back at that in reverse, and it warms my heart.

  9. Warms mine too. In one way that seems like yesterday, but in another a life time ago, if you know what I mean Dave. Good memory brother.

  10. AnonymousMay 03, 2009

    Great post... I think we all need to be reminded that "God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are higher than ours". I especially loved this quote from Philip Yancey - "Faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse." Thanks for sharing... Debbie

  11. Wonderful, wonderful post!

  12. You're absolutely correct! We may not understand what is happening in our life right now but He surely does. He in fact is holding all the pieces to makes us the beautiful masterpiece he'd planned us to be. God Bless you brother!

    Your Daily Word

  13. I really enjoyed this post. I think this must be something we all struggle with at one time or another and in one fashion or another. What gets me sometimes is to think of all the horrible choices I have made in the past and wonder how it can be for good. Then I remind myself that if I had not been the person I was then, I would not be the person I am now. I had to experience the things that I experienced in my life in order to grow into the nearly middle aged woman that I am today. I have said to my husband in the past that I am glad I went through the things that I did, because my experiences led me to him. God always knows what's best. I, too, learn many lessons about God and my relationship with Him through my relationships with my children. There couldn't be a better object lesson!

  14. Awesome post. Precisely the theme of the service I have just returned home from! God is good :)

  15. Thanks for this post. It is good to be reminded that God is working things to good in our lives; even though we can't see the "how" always.

    I also appreciated Warren's analogy of parenting; since I've experienced several times my children not being happy with what I'm doing but I know I'm always doing it for their best. I know God loves me & my children both way more perfectly than I'm capable of loving my children.


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