Thursday, 8 December 2011

Mysterious ways

God works in mysterious ways!

So we are often told.  This is one of those phrases that we all know.  Those of us who can't decide which god we believe in the least find that the expression is used with monotonous regularity by christians whenever you ask them a question that they find impossible to answer.

Where does this phrase come from anyway?  It seems that it is not to be found in the bible in this form, even though some people contrive to find it in various (mysterious) passages.

Most people will have come across the expression in one of those glorious hymns that I miss singing, as it originates in a verse by William Cowper (1731–1800),  God Moves in Mysterious Way.

God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

I always thought that the writer of the hymn must have thought in mysterious ways too, with ideas of planting footsteps in the sea.

There is an urban myth about how the words came about.  Who cares whether it is true, but its a plausible story.

Cow­per oft­en strug­gled with de­press­ion and doubt. One night he de­cid­ed to com­mit su­i­cide by drown­ing him­self.  He called a cab and asked the driv­er to take him to the River Thames.  How­ev­er, thick fog pre­vent­ed them from find­ing the river [yeah yeah - very likely!]  After driv­ing around lost for a while, the cab­by fin­al­ly stopped and let Cow­per out. To Cowper’s sur­prise, he found him­self on his own door­step and concluded that God had sent the fog to keep him from kill­ing him­self.

1 comment:

Hilary said...

Interesting, though the funny thing is I don't think I've ever heard any christians quoting this and I never quote it...however I do quote the more Biblical expression from Isaiah chapter 55 which I will quote here...verses 6 - 9

'Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him whilst He is near,
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrightwous man his thoughts,
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him,
And to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor My ways your 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 is well worth reading...