Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Dead Guy's Song

When I was growing up, people would sometimes say about those big, inexplicable things of life (sickness, pain, death, disaster, etc.), "well, God moves in mysterious ways..." And that was the end of it. I found that frustrating of course. I wanted someone, anyone, to plumb the depths of God's purposes and get to the bottom of it all. I wanted answers. But since so many seemed to answer, "well, it's a mystery," I decided to take the plunge myself. Over the years I have thought about it and revisited the subject from time to time and studied and prayed and by now you have guessed what my results were: God is actually as mysterious as everyone said (actually even more so) and He just doesn't lay it all out for us. Indeed, He actually intentionally keeps His some of (probably most of?) His purposes from us. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."

But Christians hang their hats on the Sovereignty of God, trusting that He knows what is going on down here and beyond that, that he cares, and beyond that that He loves and beyond that, that He has planned all of this out from before He created anything...even planned using the results of our human sinfulness for His Great Purposes. (Browse the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50 -but be sure to land on 45:5 and 50:20 to stop and think. And there are many more examples throughout Scripture.)

God's Sovereignty has become to me immeasurably sweet. To know that God has all things well in hand, that He hasn't looked away and that my troubles do not go unnoticed by Him and that rather, He has great things in mind not just for my future but for my now - even in the midst of trouble - this is immeasurably sweet. Mysterious, sure, but sweet nonetheless.

So why do people say, "God moves in a mysterious way?" William Cowper (evidently pronounced Cooper), the great poet from way back in the 1700's, wrote those words as a hymn that was included in John Newton's (of Amazing Grace fame) Olney Hymns. I know its old, but can I just say that with only a few exceptions, I think that old dead guys still have the greatest song lyrics?

The original tune for this is rather boring, but you can try it to the tune of, "Oh God Our Help In Ages Past" if you know it.

I love the third verse so much, and the fourth...and the fifth...

God Moves in a Mysterious Way by William Cowper

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.


  1. I think Yahweh keeps things "mysterious" so that we will do just what your blog title suggests: Earnestly seek Him.

  2. I think about this always. Thanks for pointing all of us toward His smiling face.