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Allison Althoff
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Natalie Lederhouse
Natalie Lederhouse

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March 26, 2010

The God of the Third Way

God reaches us where we didn’t even know we needed to be seen

This Lenten season has brought a freshness of anticipation and wonder to me like none other I can remember. Yes, it has been marked by repentance and introspection, but with knees bent and palms turned up to heaven in contrition, I can’t help but strain my neck to see just what my Father will do next—what incredible way he will demonstrate again his divine wisdom and great love towards us.

Our God is a God of the Third Way. We can storm our minds for wisdom in our need; we can consult other resources and people for best and godly practices, but God is a God of a surprise, consolation, and beauty that transcends even our noblest human ideas. He provides a way beyond our conceptions and reaches us where we didn’t even know we needed to be seen. I’d like to share one recent story of our Father’s way.

At the lunch table last week, my friend Marian confessed her internal struggle and grief over her mother’s health problems. Her mother, who has been told by her doctor that she will not walk again due to a broken leg and debilitating osteoporosis, insisted to once again have her shattered bones x-rayed. This meant another long trip to the doctor for Marian and her mother to hear the same results repeated. Several of us discussed with Marian what might be the best way to handle her mother’s insistence and denial, and how to mediate between her mother and the doctor. We listened to her grief with real concern and responded as best we knew how.

The next day, I asked Marian how the appointment with the doctor was. My spirit was stirred by the glow of her face as she told a story none of us would have expected. The doctor, who could’ve dismissively rolled his eyes at a woman who needed a simple medical reality spelled out for her once again, set aside a chunk of time to gently and graciously explain that, no, she would never walk again, but also how she, in fact, has so much to be thankful for: she still has her leg, though the possibility of amputation had been very real when the break initially occurred. Marian watched as her mother’s countenance changed into one of true gratitude as the doctor told her she would not have to worry about amputation anymore. And as this man patiently cared for Marian’s mother, a nurse came in with a tub of warm water. The nurse quietly crouched down and began gently washing Marian’s mother’s broken leg. She washed off the dead skin that had built up under her leg brace. She lathered cooling lotion on the woman’s bathed skin. Marian’s mother’s tough exterior softened as she looked down at the nurse and said simply, “I like you.”

Marian’s mother will continue to suffer the pain of broken bones and disability. But the God of the Third Way entered into that situation as none of us would’ve been able to conceive. He touched this hurting woman in a place of need even more fundamental than we knew or thought to go. The God who made us knows how to reach us and he mercifully deigns to do so; he satisfies us with his love.

At Easter we get space to ruminate on our transcendent God and the Way he has ultimately paved. We needed salvation from our sin. And God was not stuck in the routes that we would’ve seen before us—the route of justice and punishment, or the route of mercy. Our Father gave us the third way—the way so far above our ways: Jesus Christ. The life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ blew through our understanding, fulfilling both justice and mercy in one act, and offering to us an eternal Life of our Father’s third ways—a Life that is here now for us to drink in deeply.

As we reflect on God’s salvation this week, we’d love to hear how God has provided his third ways in your life.

Related Tags: Resurrection


Awesome story! Happy Easter everyone!

His ways are not our ways, and I love how He reminds us.
Our Creator is so creative.

Thank you!! i've been wrestling between two choices, turning to friends for advice. I'm going to wait for God to show up with his third way.

the lord just answered prayer my husband losted his wallet looked everywere he thought but god is good he found it were he didnt expect praise the lord

1 Corinthians 10:13 came to mind as I read your words. No matter what God allows to happen in our lives, He always prepares the way of escape. He knows just how much we can bear. If we are truly seeking His plan, we will be able to see the way out...a perfect way that He has carefully prepared for us wherever we, or a loved one, might be. I'm not sure I agree with the phrase "the God of the third way" because as I understand Scripture, He is the God of the only way to salvation, peace and eternal life. I believe that includes the difficult times as well as the good times. According to Scripture, God is always working in my life to bring about His plan for my best interest. His very best for me (Jer.29:11-12). As you shared, He often brings relief from sources that surprise us, even astonish us. My Mother suffers from severe dementia and it is hard to watch her daily decline. Yet in all the sadness, God is always there showing my sister and me how to care for her and protect her. I take great comfort that the God of all comfort knows before hand exactly what I need...I just need to trust Him to let me see it when I need it. Knowing He is always with me and will never leave me is what keeps me going, no matter what my circumstances. I think this is most difficult when the difficulty is a loved one's and I am watching them live through it.You reminded me of the many surprising ways God has met our needs when the answer seemed impossible. Thank you for sharing your story.

Wow! What an Awesome story indeed!
The God of the Third Way! He sees and knows just how we feel, and He is willing to meet and touch us exactly where we feel deserted. He Is a Fiathful GOD! Halleluyah!

Thank you for the encouragement. I am praying for a friend and wondering why he is not healed. God loves him. I am encouraged to pray for him in faith that he will see God's love and acceptance and stand up and recognize who he is in Christ! Thank you. God is the God of miracles!

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