“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”
Isaiah 55:8 (NLT)
I spent the summers of my youth on a chain of lakes in Canada. These lakes were dotted with islands with colorful names like Blueberry Island (where we collected pailfuls of blueberries), Copper Island (named for the Copper Beeches that lined its shores), and Ferry Island (which was close to the island’s only transport). There were many islands, but one that stands out in my memory is Picture Island.
Picture Island was a good half hour boat ride from the town. Too
small for a house, it was solely populated by scrub pines and bushes. It was unremarkable, except for the fact that thousands of years before, a glacier had cut the island in two, sheering off a flat rock face dozens of feet high. Think of a movie screen made of stone. Over the centuries, lichen had grown over the rock wall, supposedly forming a picture. And the picture had a story.
I heard the story when I was eight, well before I saw the rock face. Per the tale, in the 1800s, two postmen delivering mail were caught in a snowstorm. They huddled together, but eventually froze to death. Supposedly their tragic tale was immortalized on the face of Picture Rock.
While this might seem ridiculously far-fetched to an adult (the storytelling qualities of lichen are not scientifically accepted, to say the least), it fired my eight-year-old imagination. I remember listening with wide-eyed wonder to the grim tale. I also remember badgering my parents to take me to Picture Island to see the rock face.
After weeks of whining my parents finally took me out to the island to see the famous picture. I recall it was a sunny day, with small swells and a light breeze–perfect for picture viewing. We finally we reached to island. My dad rounded the end of the island, driving slowly past the big rock face. I remember holding my breath and looking up…and seeing clumps of lichen that didn’t form a picture of any kind, much less two mailmen freezing to death in a snowstorm.
I was sooooooo disappointed.
I think this sometimes also happens in our relationship with the Lord. We and other people sometimes create our own story about what He’s going to do and how He’s going to do it, rather than checking scripture and listening to the Holy Spirit. We expect Him to do things on our schedule, rather than waiting for His. And when He doesn’t exactly fulfill our own Picture Island story in exactly the way we expect Him to, we’re disappointed.
God loves us. He sent His beloved Son to die for us. This is not the action of a Lord who disappoints. But Scripture also tells us that His ways are not our own. We don’t always see what God is doing in our lives, any more than I could see what I expected on Picture Island.
The picture I expected to see wasn’t there, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t another better picture waiting to be seen. Sometimes I wonder what would have been on that rock face if I’d looked for the picture God wanted to show me instead of the one I’d expected to see.
One thing’s for sure. I would not have been disappointed.