Do you believe God is good? But, what about when… ?

Its an interesting point to note that when Jesus was addressed as “Good Teacher,” he said, “Why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone (Lk. 18:19).”  Jesus was reminding his hearers that “goodness” is an essential characteristic of God.

When things are tough, one of the great questions we have is, “how can a good God allow all this?”  It’s a fair question.  But it presupposes that what we think is good, is actually good.  We have a perspective that is admittedly limited.  Many of us think cheeseburgers are good.  But they are not, if you want to actually nourish your body with your food.  Our definition of good has a lot to do with our value system and our over-arching purpose.

If our value system is wrapped up in the here and now, then suffering and struggling is a horrible violation of how we want to experience life now.  But if we value the eternal, growth, maturity, transformation, etc., our ideas of what is good, will be drastically changed.  Because it is in the hard times that we are formed into something new, especially when we grow through it under the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit.

Author and theologian, Peter Kreeft, wrote in his book, “Making Sense Out of Suffering”, these words, “If we love God, we will understand that everything is grace, that Job’s sores were grace, that Job’s abandonment was grace, that even Jesus’ abandonment (‘My god, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?’) was grace.  Even the delay of grace is grace.  Suffering is grace.  The cross is grace.  The grave is grace.  Even hell is made of God’s love and grace, experienced as pain by those who hate it.  There is nothing but God’s love. ‘Everything is grace.’”

When you read the word grace in the paragraph above, replace it with the words “a good gift.”  This can be a tough exercise because it confronts our idea of what is good.  But doing this teaches us that all things God gives to us are good gifts, given to accomplish His good purposes.  He can only give what is good because He is good.

Rather than judging the goodness of God by our circumstances, let’s define our circumstances by the goodness of God.  No matter what we are going through, God is good and He is bringing about His good work in our lives.  To believe this is the beginning of experiencing the goodness of God in every area and every experience of our lives.

 

Thank you for reading, for your comments, your shares and your likes.

Jim’s Life Adventure #10642

Usually these begin with one of my great, fun ideas!  I’ve been looking at used cars since I sold my old pickup to my son.  And I thought, “hey, why don’t I get something fun!”  So, I started looking and settled on a Mazda Miata.  One of those little two-seaters that my wife and I could enjoy tootling around town in.  Since I travel almost every week, I searched all over my territory.  I found one two weeks ago in Hudson, Wisconsin, right across the river from Minneapolis/St. Paul.IMG_3974

The transaction was a little hectic.  I squeezed in looking at the car between appointments.  And we settled on a deal.  I put down a deposit and promised I would be back the next week to pick it up.  I used my Southwest miles and got a plane flight to Minneapolis, landing yesterday at 8:15am.  Now, at this point you may be thinking… “you’re going to drive an old car, you don’t know 400 miles on your first trip?”  “Sounds risky.”  But then again, this is the stuff adventures are made of.

I handed over the cash, started the car and off I went.  All seemed well.  About an hour into the trip, I thought… you know, I don’t really know if the gas gauge is accurate.  I better stop and fill it up, so I can make sure it works.  And if it doesn’t work, I can keep track of the mileage to make sure I don’t run out.  I stopped in Eau Claire, WI.

I filled up the car and was ready to get on the road, when I noticed that the battery light went on.  I knew this was an indication that there was something wrong with the electrical system.  Huh.  What to do?  I whispered a prayer… actually the whole day, my mental conversations were prayers.  Across the street I noticed a auto repair garage.  A little blessing from heaven, I thought.  I drove it across the street and was told they’d be happy to take a look at it.  I sat and waited, then the bad news came.

The battery looked good, but the alternator (that thing which charges the battery as you drive), was registering no output.  The car was running on battery power only.  He said no one in town had one to fit the little Mazda.  But helpfully he said he could order one for the next day.  And I could be on my way by tomorrow evening.  Well that wouldn’t work.  I had another trip to take tomorrow.  So, I thought, prayed short-rapid-fire prayers and asked, how far can I go on battery power?  He wouldn’t venture a real guess, but was sure I wouldn’t make it more than an hour, or two of a 5 hour drive.  He didn’t have any options, other than a $400 tow.

I didn’t want to be stuck on the road, but I did certainly wanted to get closer to home.  So, I asked, what if I bought a second battery?  He was sure that wouldn’t get me home and who knew where it would strand me? Again, I prayed and considered.  It seemed like the best shot.  So I went to a Wal-Mart about 5 miles away.  When I searched and my car wasn’t on their battery list.  Okay, Google-time.  I bought a battery and wrenches so I could make the switch.

I drove in constant prayer for God’s favor.  I put the top down, but the battery didn’t have the power to roll the windows down.  I left the radio off, the cruise off, the a/c off.  And off I went.  About 2 hours and 15 minutes in, as I was approaching the Wisconsin Dells, I began to feel a little confident, but overly so.  I texted Kris that I was still going on battery 1 and just as I hit send, a dash light began to flicker.  The radio clock went blank.  And the car started losing power.  I put the car in neutral, coasted onto exit 85, I’m blessed it was a downhill ramp, so I could roll well off the road.  I texted Kris that it was time for battery 2.  I switched the batteries in about 3 minutes and I was on my way again, still 3 hours from home.

In my mind I kept devising plans for what I would do when this one died.  But I asked, that if God would give my his favor, I would certainly appreciate it.  Any way and however it would work out, I was glad He was there and I could count on Him helping me through.  One other little discomfort to my trip was that it was 95 degrees out and I dared not stop for water, or the bathroom.  I didn’t know how many starts was left in that battery.  Rockford, DeKalb and then exit 109, Sugar Grove!  Kris had opened the garage door, so I could drive straight in.  I made it!  Over 3 hours on that battery!  It was a precious gift that God gave to me.

I was tired.  I was sweaty.  I was thirsty.  But I was home.  When Kris asked if we could move it out the driveway to take a few pictures, I tried, but it wouldn’t start.  The battery was dead.  Wow, thank you Lord.  A long day, enhanced by the evidence of God’s goodness and grace.  This makes me think of something that has some spiritual significance… in other words, you’ve read all of this, for this…

Why didn’t I get freaked out?  Why didn’t I get mad at people who sold me a car that they probably knew had problems?  Why didn’t this shake me?  Because I went into it with a different mindset.  I knew there could be issues.  But I was also confident that I would not be alone.  And in the end, God and I would work it out.  And He reminded me of that throughout the day.  My open heart made me stop for gas, so I would see that light, so then I could find the shop, who would point me to the Wal-Mart.  He gave me the phone that I could search the Google and get a battery.  He then kept me praying and singing and fellowshipping with him in a state of constant dependence.  At the end, He led me to try and start that car one more time, so I could laugh and rejoice in His immense goodness!

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So, why is this so different from everyday life, when things frustrate me and anger me? The difference was I woke up ready for an adventure with God.  And He let me have one.  I wonder if I could wake up like that tomorrow?  I wonder how much I would revel in each day if I just thought of everyday as an adventure with God. If I did, I think I’d be less overwhelmed by each days worries and I would be open to see all the good He surrounds us with and rejoice.  I can’t wait for adventure #10643.  I just don’t want to do it without Him.