Taking the Road Less Traveled: Trusting Through Great Mystery

Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.”

Psalm 77:19

The soul can be quite unsettled by mystery. The Christian must learn how to walk through mysterious providences without being undone by doubt and uncertainty. There will be seasons where direction is given moment by moment, step by step, without the security of knowing what tomorrow may bring.

When coming across this verse, my husband and I were both in the midst of an unpredictable season in our lives. The trajectory of our lives was kept concealed by The Lord for a time. We could not lay out His purposes for our family in an order that made sense to us or to those around us, and we were forced to our knees for insight. Yet, for many days we were kept in the dark. His way was made clear to us moment by moment, instead of day by day. The way of God was mysterious, undeclared, and concealed.

I found great comfort in remembering the heritage of my faith through the Exodus of God’s people. A redemptive road was set before them, but it was unlike any road men had traveled before. To say it was peculiar would be putting it lightly. I began to think of all God’s beloved, assembled together, to pass through…the sea. Have you really considered how utterly strange that must have been? Frightening, yes. Chaotic, certainly. Also, very unusual. It was literally the road less traveled.

Consider mothers who were asked every thirty minutes, “Mom, where are we going?”. “Mom, how much further?”. “Mama, why are going this way?”.

Fathers, gathering together the members of their family, in order to journey through territory at a pace that would afford them no time to search out what was ahead. 

The Lord said to go, so they went. The people of God were not privy to much more information than that. Nevertheless, the way of God through the Red Sea, though mysterious, became a pillar of clarity to those who looked back on it. Isn’t that amazing? Only God can produce such a marvelously-glorious outcome. The Great Shepherd guided the Israelites down a very strange path. Peculiarity lead to stronger realizations of the faithfulness of God for them, and for us. Now all of God’s people can look back and rejoice at His faithfulness. Yet, when do we look back? In the moment of our own uncertainty. In those very strange seasons when God’s footprints are unseen.

Darkness forces us to depend upon the revelation of God. Sometimes the darker the circumstance, the clearer we can see. Circumstances may remain as they are, but our faith will not. The lessons we are taught become fastened to our soul in times of darkness in which they never would in the light. Darkness becomes to us a gift. A strange season yields a more skilled discernment of the presence of God. Unanswered questions direct us to the answers God has made known to us. We can find joy, not in proof, but in God’s presence. “When I plead for proof, what I most need is your presence.” Mystery is not an enemy to God’s people. Mystery is an opportunity to trust. We rejoice in an omniscient God who has every right to conceal His purposes from our understanding in order to reveal the sacredness of His presence. Oh, the presence of the Lord should be sacred to us! I may not understand– the sovereign plans of God for my life may be hidden–but let me welcome with desperation the glory of His presence! Mystery can stay if it means my heart becomes more acquainted with the character of God. Nothing is my enemy that leads me to a greater understanding and stronger embrace of God, my Shepherd.

Consider what has been revealed to you, beloved. Through the great waters of chaos and uncertainty, we know our God is true. We know His word is sure. When our lot is held in secret for a time, we can rest knowing a faithful God is attentive and present though He may choose to keep His particular providence a mystery. At the end of the day, our portion is God and we have a beautiful inheritance in Christ. Every attempt to know the present plans of God for our lives should be anchored in the already-revealed plan of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The question is, will that be enough for us? The footprints of God may be unseen–His judgments like the great deep—is knowing his person a greater treasure to us, than knowing his plans? If it is not, our worship will always fluctuate by degree of how clear our circumstances present themselves. If knowing God is our treasure, we will worship when plans are hidden and when plans are revealed. The sea before us doesn’t get to dictate our faith in the God above us, and the God within us. When the plan unfolds slowly and we are given grace only for the moment, we can trust that our season of mystery can be used for someone else’s certainty. No part of our lives, the known and unknown, will be wasted. To which we will respond with great wonder: “Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways!”

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

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

-William Cowper