If I were granted three wishes, one of them would not be to know what the future holds. You can keep your crystal balls. I have enough trouble wrestling with today’s demons without knowing what crosses await me tomorrow. As the wise rabbi said, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” And some days are so sufficiently evil that tomorrow looms like the open jaws of hell.
For some of us, that evil day was when we sat in divorce court. We can still feel in our guts the glass shards of broken dreams. The tomorrow we awaited, and the weeks and years after that, were too fear-filled and hope-empty to wrap our brains around. We didn’t even want to know what the rest of that day would hold, much less the future.
For others, that evil day was when we drove away from a cemetery with the passenger seat empty of the love of our lives. The one who shared our memories has become a memory. And we’re left with a hole in the heart out of which pours grief and anger and innumerable other agonies of irreplaceable loss. We don’t even want to know how we’re going to lay in bed that night alone, much less face a future without the one with whom we shared a past.
I don’t know your story, but I bet you have one. Broken relationships, broken hearts, broken promises—they all melt into the ink of tears with which we write our stories. And the blank pages yet to be written frighten us most.
Reading back over the last ten years of my life—years that were punctuated with losses I never dreamed I’d experience—I’m so grateful that God didn’t give me the gift of foresight. It would have felt more like a curse. Nor do I want to know what’s ahead of me on the path I walk now. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad, most likely it’s a cocktail of both.
I can say this: as I read back over those years, I'm reminded of the Portuguese proverb that says God writes straight with crooked lines. I stumbled down labyrinthine paths, crawled in and out of cavernous pits, got lost a million times, and somehow ended up a little farther down the road to healing. Yet in all those crooked lines I see the hand of God writing straight.
I'm not saying that I finally see how God's plan unfolded in my life. I don't. I’ll never understand why some things happened. All I know is that they did. They ultimately did because I’m a deeply flawed sinner, living shoulder-to-shoulder with others who are screw ups like me, and we’re all trying to limp through life in a world where stupid and senseless things happen with predictable regularity. There are crooked lines everywhere we look.
What I can tell you is that the hands that write straight with these crooked lines have everlasting scars that tell of crucified love. I can tell you that down every labyrinthine path, in every cavernous pit, wherever we’re lost, there’s a God of compassion hot on our heels. He’s leading us into death and life again. He kills and makes alive. And it hurts—damn, it hurts—but mixed with the hurt is the healing blood of God.
That blood of Jesus painted the ground beneath his cross with crooked lines that write straight these words: All for you.
What we need in our fragmented world, full of hurting people, is the love of Jesus Christ, who welcomes home sinners with a grace that knows no bounds. My book Christ Alone: Meditations and Sermons, is packed with reflections that go that extra mile of grace. Again and again, they present the Christ who is crucified and risen for you. Please take a moment to check it out here. You may also be interested in my collections of hymns and poetry entitled, The Infant Priest, which you can purchase here. Both books are also available on Amazon, as is my booklet Why Lutherans Sing What They Sing (also on Kindle). Thank you for your prayers and support!