Finger Traps and the Ways of God

The first time I laid eyes on one was at a fall carnival when I was six. It was a little, multicolored woven tube in a gift bag I received after a carnival game. My mom showed me how to place my index fingers into the ends of the tube and pull slightly, thus locking them in place. Any effort to extricate my digits by the most-logical means, like pulling them apart, only drew the strips more tightly around my fingers; this is the way the dreaded bamboo finger trap works. I remember trying in vain to free myself as my mother watched bemusedly. No matter how hard I pulled, I couldn’t get loose. 

The way you remove a finger trap is counterintuitive; you push your fingers in farther, releasing the pressure, and then slide the bamboo sleeve from them. It doesn’t seem to make much sense, and that’s why fingers get trapped. 

We know how things should work, or at least, we think we know how things should work, but sometimes the best answer defies what we think should be true. The Kingdom of God is counterintuitive, at least when compared to humanity’s idea of logic. Over and over again we find events and teachings in the Bible that turn our reasoning topsy-turvy. 

Take being blessed for example. We have our own idea of what it means to be “blessed.” The word in the New Testament often carries with it the idea of being “spiritually happy.” Happiness is a good thing. We like that; we want that. What does it look like? Jesus tells us in Matthew 5: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake…” (vs. 10,11). This contradicts my usual idea of what it means to be happy and blessed. But this is par for the course when we speak of the Kingdom of God — up is often down, down is usually up, and what we think should be turns out to be the opposite. 

Just consider the life of Jesus… 

The Sovereign King of the Universe was born as a baby surrounded by livestock.

The disciples argued over who was the greatest among them during the Last Supper, and Jesus, taking on the role of the lowliest servant, washed their feet.

Jesus was judged by earthly trials, yet he is the Judge of all.

In order to offer eternal life to man, Jesus died.

This is why, when confronted with the truths of God, we often scratch our heads and think, “This doesn’t make much sense.” So we try to figure it out by pulling and tugging and fighting and stretching it to fit our own mindset. But life in the Kingdom of God doesn’t tend to line up easily with all human thought. That’s why we must restrain from fighting against his working and willingly surrender to it. We trap ourselves when begin to think we can approach him or understand him on our terms alone.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8,9).

Pray that…

The revelation of the greatness of the wisdom and knowledge of God would lead us to worship him deeply. — Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

We would “boast in the Lord” instead of our own abilities, titles or talents. — 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

We will rely upon God to instruct us as he sees the whole of our lives and our situations with complete clarity, even when we cannot. — Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

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