Sunday, March 27, 2016

God Is Good No Matter Where I Am

My Pig is dead. The Ford Explorer I've driven for the past fourteen years has breathed its last. At 2:40AM on March 17, 2016, the paragon of mileage and memories known as The Pig Mobile crawled her way up the exit ramp off I-95 and bled to death in a parking spot right in front of my eyes. She was more than transportation; she was my companion, my daily living space, my prayer closet, my ticket to freedom, my dance floor, my workhorse. She had so selflessly conformed her seat to mine, beginning on the day we met. She had endured terrible weather, loads of "stuff," bumps and bruises, kids, dogs, barf, poo... I digress.

"Oh, it'll all work out."
"You know, all things work for good."

I assume the folks dealing out these platitudes like some fateful deck of cards, are trying to embrace a remnant of Romans 8:28:
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
The fact is, I know it'll all work out. And I even know the entire verse. And the one after it. And it all applies. But, what I didn't know until this morning is how grossly I had misused that verse; how twisted even Bible-banging, spiritual warfare-waging, church-going Christians get this.

I'd had a particularly rough night last night, dealing with the Pig's untimely demise. (It sounds silly and shallow, I'm sure, to someone who's never had a close relationship with a piece of Georgian tonnage.) As I was reading in Philippians 4 this morning, I paused at verses 6 and 7:
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
I paused and gave thanks. I know this assurance to be true; I know this peace to be real. I know God was with me the morning my precious Pig passed; I know He's with me now. I know He is handling this entire situation, and I know it's going to be better when it's done than it was before. I claim it because my Father God is sovereign and working for my good. Now, here's where it got real.

Why? I mean, why is God working on my behalf? Why is God working for my good? Because I love Him and He loves me. Well, yes. But this is not some saccharine-sweet, big purple dinosaur, facile relationship. We are not His equals; we are His creation. And He loves us -- it's true -- but being good and being loving are part of who He is! He has instilled goodness and love in us; we can relate to those qualities, but the "familiarity" of His goodness and love should not dismiss the reverence due Him. There is no other who is always good, always loving, sovereign, omniscient, omnipotent. Only God! He has earned and will continue to earn our worship; and -- here's the "real" part -- He is working for the good of those who love Him because of who He is!

God is not handling my situation for my good because I love Him. He is not handling my situation for my good because I am seeking His will. He is not even handling my situation for my good because I am walking in complete trust of Him. (Grace is just that, grace; it cannot be earned; it is not a conditional situation. But that's a discussion for another day.) My Heavenly Father is working for my good because that is who He is, and if I am joined to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, I experience the benefits of His goodness. Did you get that? Let me run that past you one more time: My Heavenly Father is working for my good because that is who He is, and if I am joined to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, I experience the benefits of His goodness. And His love. And His sovereignty. And His omniscience. And His omnipotence.

God loves me, of that there is no doubt. But God does not stop being who He is because I decide not to be in relationship with Him. He's not some jilted lover who stops opening doors or lending me His stuff. Doors might still be opened, but if I'm not walking with Him, how will I even see them? His stuff is all around me: creation, joy, charity and kindness; He's not going to remove them from the world simply because I've chosen to do things my own way. But if I am not looking at that world through the eyes of Jesus, if I am not growing to be more like Him each day, if I am walking in places where He is not leading, I will see a world very different from the one He has for me.

Who knows? On Easter my mind is geared toward resurrection. Maybe The Pig will rise again. But I know God is working for my good because of who He is and -- thanks, God -- where I am!

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