That Sunday started out like any other day, me sitting quietly in the sunroom, in the early morning darkness, before that room could live up to its name. After reading my Bible and praying, I reached for a collection of Frederick Buechner quotes, a book of daily meditations that I’m working my way through this year. Buechner’s reminder that day was to pay attention to tears, especially the unexpected ones. “They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are,” he wrote, “but more often than not God is speaking to you through them.”
Perhaps that’s why I paid attention when only hours later tears sprang to my eyes as we sang “Way Maker” in church that Sunday morning. I was reminded of the first time I heard that song, in a church in downtown Jerusalem, at a time in my life when I felt utterly defeated and could see no way out of the pit that was threatening to swallow me up.
As the tears welled in my eyes, I suddenly realized that even back then God must have been making a way. He had been working, even when I couldn’t see it. It made me long to someday see my story from Heaven’s perspective. What had God been up to? How did His activity and mine intersect in a way that finally gained Him the victory? I was so choked up I couldn’t continue singing, so full of thanks that He had been quietly making a way when all I wanted was my own.
Author Dorothy Sayers, a contemporary and friend of C.S. Lewis, writes this in her book, The Mind of the Maker, about the way God weaves His will in our lives: “He will not, any more than a good writer, convert His characters without preparing the way for their conversion, and His interferences with space-time will be conditioned by some kind of relationship of power between will and matter. Faith is the condition for the removal of mountains.”
We have a will of our own, don’t we? And somehow, as God works His will in this world, He doesn’t violate ours. The Bible calls us to be living sacrifices. But like many a preacher has said, the problem with a living sacrifice is that it can crawl off the altar. We must invite God on an ongoing basis to lead and guide and work. This life of faith is not meant to be a single once and done transaction. We can’t approach life as a problem for which we are in search of a single elusive solution. Life is actually an ongoing opportunity for creativity that invites us to make something beautiful of it, problems and all.
When you read a murder mystery, you quickly become preoccupied with solving the case. When the murderer’s motive is finally uncovered, you are convinced the problem has been solved. The case is closed. But as Sayers writes, “…nothing at all has been said about the healing of his murderous soul.” Solving problems keeps us focussed on the surface matters of life instead of the deeper transformation that we really need. Sure, a garden looks beautiful when the weeds are clipped, but if those weeds are not eradicated from the roots up, they’ll be wreaking havoc again in no time.
As I am learning to follow the Way of the Maker, I am discovering that He is not so much working to solve my problems as He is working to change me. He is more concerned with the healing and purifying of my heart than with the outward conformity of my actions. He is after complete and ongoing surrender, not content with me simply honouring Him with my lips while my heart crawls off the altar and far away from Him.
Like the Psalmist said, “…as for me, it is good to be near God” (Psalm 73:28). It certainly is! God is the only One who can root out those things in my heart that bring death, and He is the only One who can usher in life — abundant life. Tying up loose ends, painting on a pretty veneer, and striving to arrive is not the kind of life Jesus came to bring us. God, in His grace, doesn’t just sweep our sin under the rug. But as the Sovereign Artist He is, He makes something beautiful from it. That is the way of the Maker.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds. – Psalm 73:28