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God's crooked lines

The photo above was taken in Door County. Wisconsin. Maybe some of you recognize the road as one you've been on before.

The highway reminds me of one of my all-time favorite sayings.


The exact origin of this proverb is uncertain. It's most often attributed to the Portuguese. The murky background of the saying is in keeping with the truth it contains.

God works in mysterious ways. God writes straight with crooked lines. You won't find either saying in the Bible; still, each captures a Biblical truth.

When we look at the world, it's often hard to see what God is doing. This is the case whether it's the COVID pandemic, or the war in Ukraine.

Without faith, it's easy to fall under the sway of a different adage: History is just one thing after the other.

Life is not one random event after another. We cling to the promise that God works all things for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28-39).

Clinging to God's promises for dear life is sometimes all that we can do. As Christians, we're not immune to the ills of the world, whether they be war, disaster, or disease. Trusting God, no matter what, is hard lesson. The experiences of Joseph (Genesis 45) and Habakkuk (chapter 1-2) are Biblical proof of this.

This leads to one of the more mysterious, but for me, also one of the most comforting passages of Scripture.

"The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart. Devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death" (Isaiah 57:1-2).

Sometimes God delivers us from evil, here and now. There are also times when He does so by taking us from this valley of sorrows, bringing us to our eternal home.

Here and now, we must trust that God is writing straight with crooked lines. Amidst the chaos and evil that is so prevalent in our world, God's good and perfect will is being accomplished. We must keep in mind that God's timing is not our own. The people of God were slaves in Egypt for centuries before the Lord used Moses to deliver and bring them to the promised land. Waiting is a part of life with God. The Church has been waiting two thousand years for Jesus to return to fully establish His kingdom that has no end.

What is true on the grand, historical scale is true as well for us individually. God is writing straight with crooked lines. "Therefore, my dear friends... continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose (Philippians 2:12-13).

My life with God looks a lot like that Wisconsin highway captured in the photo at the beginning of this post. My life with God has been filled with many twists and turns. I'm guessing that this may be true for you, too. We really have no idea what tomorrow may bring. We must live by faith, one day at a time.

This promise made to God's people reminds me of two of the great collects (prayers) of the Church:


Almighty God, You alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant Your people grace to love what You command and desire what You promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Lord God, You have called Your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


I will close this post allowing a new friend of mine to speak.

Alex started his own blog last month. In his first two posts, he describes his long and crooked path to becoming a Lutheran. I, for one, love the honesty and passion of his writing. Here is a link to his blog. When you have time, please carefully read both entries:

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