At the WYE

May 14, 2023

There is a point on the Seward (Alaska) Highway, at about Milepost 37, called “The Wye.” It’s the fork in the road where, when driving south from Anchorage, you decide whether you’re going to Seward (end of the road) or Sterling … and points beyond. You cannot get to either of those destinations without passing the Wye, and when you reach that point of decision, it’s critical that you are paying attention.

Three men traveled north from Seward, heading home to Sterling. They jawed and laughed about their long day’s fishing trip, bemoaning all the salmon that got away—including those of mythical proportions on fishing trips in days of yore. They were well into their third or fourth volley of “Well, you think THAT’s sad … “ when one guy suddenly noticed up ahead the familiar sign of the Tesoro gas station … in Girdwood. “How … ??? did THAT gas station get THERE??! We’re supposed to be in Sterling by now — and we’re almost to Anchorage!!” In their minds, they retraced their route, back past Portage Flats, through Turnagain Pass, past Summit Lake Lodge—until dawn broke—they totally missed the turn to Sterling. They messed up at the WYE. Clearly, they all thought that the “other guy” was watching for it … and, while one-upping each others’ fishing tales, they ALL ended up missing it. By a laughable long shot—adding an extra hour and a half to their trip home. They knew the road well; they could drive it “in their sleep.” But, when it came down to it, they messed up at the Wye.

In life, sometimes, we mess up at the WHY.

We think we’ve got things figured out—even the hard-to-figure things. We look at our “crisis du jour”—we see the what, the who, the when, the where, the how … so clearly. Sometimes we calculate: “Okay … what + who + when + where + how = WHY.” We think we understand the laws of cause and effect well enough. Like Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Cause and effect are two sides of one fact.” Simple. We feel confident that we can make assumptions that, in reality, we have no business making. Because, in God’s mathematics, there is ALWAYS more that is UNKNOWN than what is KNOWN. Simply adding up the obvious elements of our dilemma to find the answer to “Why this?” just doesn’t compute. They will never tell the WHOLE story.

Take the story of Job. Job’s calamities were catastrophic. Job looked at the enormity of his sudden loss, and he questioned God’s design and His justice. Then, Job’s “friends” showed up, each with their own assumptions and calculations as to WHY these disasters had befallen Job. They all decided that they could best “comfort” Job by taking turns to preach at him. Hard. But, their speeches included many inaccurate assumptions, including the belief that he was suffering because he had “obviously” done something wrong. Simple cause and effect. As a result, they repeatedly encouraged Job to admit “his wrong” and repent so that God would bless him again. But, it was when they wrongly assumed that they could explain why GOD allows people to suffer … that’s when the TRUE Friend of Job spoke up.

God declared that they ALL got it flat wrong. He rebuked “the friends” for suggesting that God was punishing Job. Their ideas about God’s justice were too simple, not true to the complexity of God’s own wisdom or design, about which they knew absolutely nothing. God further responded that Job, having drawn hasty and wrong conclusions himself, had insufficient knowledge to do so. God actually approved of Job’s honest wrestling for answers—God can handle interrogation. But, when Job questioned God’s justice, God raised a hand and admonished Job that he needed only to trust HIM—the Designer with the ultimate blueprint for his life. (I find it ironic that, after all that debate, Job never DID find out … the WHY?)

In our own life struggles, the “WHY” becomes like the “X” in algebra – the unknown variable. We struggle and wrestle in our attempts to justify our suffering—to find the PURPOSE for our PAIN. To calculate how this GRIEF could somehow be considered as “GOOD.” But, the WHY is always going to be “known only to GOD” – like the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. Even when we think we’ve got things figured out, we don’t. At ALL. It’s okay to ask questions, and, frankly, we SHOULD be paying attention when approaching any WHY—using all the directions and instructions that God has already provided for determining His will for us. But, in the end, when all human reasoning fails us, it’s BEST to leave ALL the WHYs in God’s hands. Our whys are safe with Him – because He is GOOD. ALL the TIME. When we don’t understand His WAYS, we can ALWAYS trust the WISDOM in His WHYS.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith 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)

And we know that ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

🎶 God is too wise to be mistaken –
God is too good to be unkind;
So, when you don’t understand –
When don’t see His plan –
When you can’t trace His hand,
Trust His Heart. 🎶

Songwriters: Babbie Y. Mason / Eddie Carswell