A few mornings ago, as we were thinking together about the question “What is God Hiding?”, I woke with a song running through my mind, over and over. What seemed strange to me is that it was a hymn that I have not thought about or sung for years. It was also a hymn that out of sheer familiarity, (and maybe its roller rink sound), I would not have chosen to sing again.
But this time, even though the tune brought back bad memories, the words were captivating. Not sure that I had all the lyrics right, I got on the internet and found a version of the hymn (by the group Casting Crowns) that I found deeply stirring.
As the words and music continued to cycle through me, again and again, I began thinking about some of the things we had recently agreed that God is hiding either from us or for us. But now I was thinking about those unknowns not just with my mind, but with my heart. The words that were giving me new perspective were the old…
Living he loved me… Dying he saved me… Buried he carried… My sins far away.
Rising he justified… Freely forever… One day he’s coming,
Oh glorious day…
Those last words (and the name of the hymn) Oh Glorious Day suddenly seemed to bring a new awareness to what we had been talking about.
Yes, God hides our sin (without failing to expose, confront, and deal with the issues of justice and mercy that our wrongs require.)
Yes, to teach us to trust him, and because our minds cannot begin to fathom the infinite and eternal ways in which God is at work within our best and worst days, working for the good of those who love him, he keeps most of that to himself (Deut 29:29); (Rom 11:33-36).
Yes, we could go on trying to imagine the content of secrets the Apostle Paul alludes to after having a vision of paradise, and after hearing things mortals are not allowed to repeat (2Cor 12:3-4).
And in the middle of all of the mystery that God is hiding, I’m guessing that many of us find ourselves somewhere in between being like our first parents who wondered if God was holding out on them (Gen 3:5)– and the better assurance that God’s “cover-ups” are nothing like our scandals.
There’s something about the lyrics of Glorious Day, especially as sung by Casting Crowns, that reassures me at a surprisingly deep level. When we begin to combine all that we know we don’t know… with what we do know about the suffering of Christ for us… we have what we need to know about the secrets of God. Whatever they are, they conceal a love and a goodness of our Creator that are infinitely and eternally better than anything we could ever ask or think.
Think of the precedent we have for such an assurance. For thousands of years this God required his people to offer awful, ugly, sacrifices. In all that time he never let them know that, on a chosen day, the Creator of untold billions of galaxies would– in ways so far beyond our understanding–become the Lamb of God… who takes away the sin of the world!
And could it be that one way we know that we are beginning to understand the wonder.. is that we find music… rising in our hearts…
PS Why the picture of the baby monkey clinging so tightly to its mother? Because often when I sense being in the presence of a God who is so much more personal and wonderful than I ever imagined, I think of the words, “Surely I am more stupid than any man, And do not have the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdom Nor have knowledge of the Holy One (Prov 30:2-3).