You know the old saying “God works in mysterious ways.” Well, that may be true, but that doesn’t make my confusion over why things happen in my life any better! In fact, I have to confess to you that most of the short and cute little theological phrases (“Just trust the Lord” or “It’s all for the best” or “It was God’s will”) we use to “comfort” others during hard times are simply not helpful.
There goes some of my best one-liners to make me sound like I care and know what to do!
But seriously, why all the mystery about God’s will for my life? Why is it so difficult at times to “see” His purpose or His plan for me? It gets pretty frustrating at times, and there are too many stories to tell here of those who have lost their faith altogether when their life didn’t make sense.
Life can be frustrating, confusing, and scary, and the whole message that “this is all a test” doesn’t really help and usually hurts! Who wants to worship a god who just toys with you?
Thankfully, we don’t worship that kind of god! But we do confront a God Who knows the end from the beginning; Who sees every consequence to every potential decision I could make from the biggest choice to the smallest. The God we adore in the theology of the Orthodox Church is the God Who is beyond being because He is the Cause of being. He is beyond existing because He is the Cause of existence.
No wonder our Lord taught His disciples about the reason for parables and then followed it up with one of His most famous parables in today’s Gospel Lesson.
Look at Matthew 13:10-23,43. In this passage you’ll read why the Lord uses parables AND the Parable of the Sower. The Sower tosses His seeds and they fall on different kinds of ground, but only one kind of ground, the good soil, does the seed take root and produce a harvest. Look at Matthew 13:13-17:
At that time, the disciples of Jesus came to him and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: ‘You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see and your ears, for they hear. Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
“Hear then the parable of the sower. When any one hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
God already knows all about you. There is no mystery to God about who you really are or even who you could become. God knows even the number of hairs on your head! God knows you! But, and here’s the real problem, YOU don’t know YOU! You don’t know what you’re capable of; you don’t know what you are meant to be; you don’t know your truest self.
And make no mistake, dearest, you NEED to know all of this about yourself! But you won’t know this about yourself simply by being told. No, we humans have proven this all too many times. How many times have you heard good advice and then promptly ignored it? We have to learn these truths about ourselves, not for God’s benefit, but for ours.
So our loving and gracious Lord places us in real lives where good things and bad things and everything in between things happen to us; where we have to make choices, decisions, and set priorities; all of which teach us about who we really are and reveal to us (not God. He already knows) the places in our soul most gripped by fear and the slavery to our passions. It is at moments of deepest love for God and others that this information about my own self proves to be the places and times where I grow best; where I mature, develop, and become who I really am. No wonder the Fathers teach us to say “Glory to God for all things!”
Today, are you willing to be tutored by your life about yourself? The whole of the Faith is meant to bring you to the place of spiritual maturity where you can learn who you really are so that God can restore His Image in you and make you into His Likeness. Your whole life is meant to bring you to that glorious place. Wanna go?
P.S. On the next Faith Encouraged LIVE program we tackle the issue of Same Sex Marriage and the Orthodox Faith. The Supreme Court has ruled in marriage equality cases and the implications are now being felt all across the country. Join me this Sunday at 8 PM as we talk about the sober and loving wisdom of Orthodoxy that offers a tumultuous society wisdom and peace. That’s THIS SUNDAY NIGHT at 8 PM on AncientFaith.com!