Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
We sometimes like quoting popular sayings, which sometimes are thought to have come from the Bible—like God helps those who help themselves and God won’t put more on you than you can bear. And then there’s this one I have heard it said more than once God moves in a mysterious way,
I wondered where it came from—it’s certainly not a verse in the Bible. Actually it goes way back—let me take you back a long time. It was 1773 in London, and the night was dark and foggy. A man walked in the darkness from his house along a cobblestone street, his step determined and relentless, but his face was tear-stained and weary. He was very depressed, and had reached the end.
Something amazing happened
For this man life was not worth living and he had many doubts about his own faith—William was his name. As he peered both ways, looking for the lantern light of a horse-drawn London cab, the man muttered, Nothing! Am I too late? But no! I must end all tonight! And the river it must be! He intended throwing himself into the cold River Thames.
Then, in the distance, he saw one coming. Almost whispering, the man said bitterly: God, you provided me no help, but here you provide the cab to take me to my death! “Where to?” asked the cabbie, when he stopped. “London Bridge,” the man replied, curtly. “A cold night it is, sir—what sort of business have you at the bridge at this hour?” But the man said nothing. The cabbie ended his attempt at conversation, and set off toward that well-known destination, London Bridge.
But the fog became thicker and thicker, so that the cabbie could not see even his horse much at all. What should have been a 20-minute ride lasted an hour, and still there was no sign of the river or the old bridge. The cabbie peered into the fog, desperately looking for some familiar sign. Suddenly, the fog lifted. The passenger, startled from his depressed state, looked to his right and saw, to his amazement, his own home. The cab, lost in the fog, had circled back to the very place he began the journey.
“My God! You have answered me!” the passenger cried out. Later that night, this man, William Cowper, one of the greatest of England’s 18th-century poets, meditated on the words of Psalm 77 which was a prayer written in a desperate moment: “Is this the end of your love and promises?. Have you rejected me forever? Have you forgotten how to have pity? You walked through the water of the mighty sea, but your footprints were never seen.”
William Cowper, the British poet and hymn writer, believed God saved his life that foggy night, because he was ready to jump to his death from the bridge. And he wrote the hymn that says:
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Yes, it’s true that God is mysterious. There is so much about him we can’t understand. God is mysterious, but you can know him!
There is a God, you’re not Him
If you’re a sports fan you may remember the 1993 movie called Rudy—the life story of Daniel ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger, who played football at the University of Notre Dame. In 2005 it was named one of the best 25 sports movies. In the movie, Rudy endures some tough times—he just wasn’t getting there in his game.
He goes to see a wise Catholic priest named Father Cavanaugh to ask for some advice about why he wasn’t succeeding in football. And this is what Father Cavanaugh says, “Son, in my 35 years of religious study, I have only come up with two hard facts: there is a God and I’m not Him.” And this sort of helps the young man.
But I would add to that a third incontrovertible fact: There is a God, you’re not him, but you can know him personally! And that’s the wonderful news of Christianity. Yes, he is mysterious but we can get to know him.
(To be continued in God Moves in a Mysterious Way – Part 2)