Sunday, March 11, 2018

My good and God's glory

I've never been big on that whole thing Facebook does where it says "four years ago today ..." or "seven years ago today ..." and reminds you of what you were posting back when. Sometimes it's entertaining, but until recently I haven't really been stuck on calendar dates. I'm happy celebrating my birthday sometime the week of, and pretty much the same with Christmas or any other holiday. But the past many months, I've gone through some pretty significant life-altering things, and I've noticed that my emotions tend to ride the one-year-later roller coaster pretty hard.

I have been pondering today what the takeaway is from this past year. Pain, frustration, hopes and yearnings and disappointments galore -- what is God up to in all that?

First, I'm going to park on the fact that God is faithful. There is an insidious voice inside my heart that over and over again wants me to believe that God has been playing dice with my life. This little voice wants me to say I've never really heard God speak or experienced his guidance -- all the times I thought I did were just coincidences paired with my overactive imagination. But if I take that to its conclusion, there are so many things that are hard for my inner agnostic to explain: supernaturally perfect timing in dozens of interactions and conversations; key words that were spoken by what I thought was God's Spirit, then reiterated within a day or two by a preacher, a friend, an enemy, a song on the radio; unlikely decisions I made or risks I took because I believed I was stepping out in faith and contrary to all expectations, those actions bore good fruit; doors of opportunity that opened over and over, sometimes in spite of others trying to slam those same doors. There's a lot for my inner agnostic to explain, if I start to believe he's right. Objectively I have to say there's evidence for God doing good work in all these things.

I'm not saying that this past year and more has been easy. Far, far from it. But when I am tempted to disbelieve in the goodness and sovereignty of God, it's helpful for me to take a step back and remember all the good he's done this past year as well. And that's just the good I know about! I've often shuddered to think what my life must have looked like this past year in the spiritual realm. What attacks were thwarted that I didn't even see? What oppression was broken without my knowledge? What plots were foiled by God because he has chosen to love me and show mercy to me? I have a hunch that if I could see those things, I would fall to the ground in worship -- because just the little fragments I've glimpsed along the way amaze me.

So I'm choosing to default to Romans 8:28, that promises God works in all things for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purposes. And while I make a ton of mistakes and fail more ways than I can count, I do love him, and he has called me for his own purposes. Deep down, I'm still confident in his faithfulness to keep his promises. So I will choose to be delighted in him, to commit my way to him. He is faithful, and while I might not understand all his agendas, I trust that he is working for my good and his glory. One year, or four years, or seven years later, that's not a bad place to park.

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