If ever there was a passage in Scripture which declares to us that God’s ways are not ours, it is in Matthew 16:24: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” The first thing a person does to follow Christ is to forget himself. “I” is no longer the point of reference for living, with regard to direction, or resources. If that were not enough to drive the point home, then comes the issue of “taking up the cross.” The “cross” addresses an attitude of not only ignoring, forgetting oneself, but of “dying” to oneself. Paul writes, “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:11) Now, the question is “Why?” Why is it that we are born into this world, only to learn that all that originates in the heart of sinful man is not to be the point of reference, and not that upon which we must rely? It is in order to reveal the goodness, mercy and grace of God…”…that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” (Eph.1:4) What an exchange of worlds!! How can this be?
Let us look at a couple of short stories which might enlighten us. First of all, the Samaritan woman, who had had five husbands, was dissatisfied, and certainly, was insecure. Jesus’ words to her, “…If you knew the gift of God, and who it was that saith to thee, ‘Give me to drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given thee living water.'” (Jn.4:10) Compare what the woman had in her life, and experience, to that which God wanted to give her. No comparison!!! The second story is that of the prodigal son, who left his father, squandered his inheritance, and then returned to the father, a broken and almost, hopeless individual. What does the father do for him? He welcomes him home, only to declare to the oldest son who had remained with him, “…For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” (Luke 15:24) Compare all that the son experienced with what the father could give him…life from death. And how shall we compare what we “have” and “are,” independently of God, with what He can give…and this forever?
So, we come back to the issue of God’s thoughts and His ways, as opposed to our own. After revealing to us that the difference between His thoughts and ways, as opposed to ur own, is as great as the heavens are higher than the earth, the Lord speaks through Isaiah by saying, “…So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void…it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Is. 55:11) Remember how Jesus rebuked Satan by saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.'” ((Matt. 4:4) His ways and thoughts, expressed in His word, are immeasureably powerful and life-giving. Lastly, the whole matter of the singular simplicity of the ways and thoughts of God can be summarized in the words of Jesus when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (Jn.14:6) Christ becomes, by this declaration, the only means of our approach to God, the beginning point in all things concerning life, and the very essence of all our resource for living. How can it be that in such a singular simplicity there can be so much blessing, eternal blessing…and this, available to all men? It is simply because God is good…intrinsically, everlastingly, and unalterably good…absolutely worthy of our trust.