Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Work Together for Good

I've been thinking a lot lately about Romans 8:27-28.

"Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

When I used to read those verses it meant that God was going to make sure that everything would work out well in my life, that, at the end of the day, everything would turn out ok.  Perhaps it was that mindset that kept me in denial about the reality of my situation for months.

Everything is going to work out.  It will be ok.  God will bring good from this.

When I would read this verse before, I was leaving out one key truth- people are sinful.  Because people are inherently sinful and filled with evil, even things that are God-ordained and meant to be inherently good can be, and all too often are, corrupted.  A father leaves his family, a child is killed by a drunk driver, a spouse commits adultery, and on and on and on...  In reading this verse I was too often tempted to view God as one who would just sweep up the mess, make sure that we didn't get too out of line, and shout loudly in the face of his rebellious and wayward children.  Surely God will work all things for good by imposing His divine will, right?

If the last few months have taught me anything, it's that God won't impose anything on us.  He won't impose His humility on me when I am lashing out in anger and pain.  He won't impose His purity on my words that are hurtful and crass.  He won't impose forgiveness upon someone steeped in bitterness and resentment.  He won't impose repentance on the unrepentant.

Sometimes the fact that He won't impose what is right on us really ticks me off.  I mean, I'm suffering!  Come on, Daddy, help me!  Clean up this mess that is my life, because I can't figure out how to!  And seriously, that person that has wronged me- make them sorry.  Make them repentant, Lord.  Make them see the sinful and evil nature of their ways.  Easy fix it, Daddy.  I want an easy fix.

Here's the thing.  God isn't promising that things will work out the way we want them to in Romans 8, simply that He will work all of it for good.  Now, it's become painfully clear that my idea of good is often in conflict with my Heavenly Father's idea of good.

Me- fix my marriage, God!  Bring my family back together.  Bring healing and reconciliation.  Help us love better.

God- I can't make either of you do anything, and I won't.  Your hearts can't go through real change or growth or redemption if I sweep all of this under the rug.  Lean on me.  That way, even if all of this falls apart at your feet, you will know that you are secure on the one thing that cannot be shaken- ME.  I know you want love, sweet daughter, I know you want someone to see your heart for all that it is- the good, the bad, and the ugly- and still choose you.  To still love you.  To still tell you you are worthy and beautiful. So open your eyes, my child, because I AM all of those things.  I chose you while you hated me.  I loved you while you spat on me.  I saw you then and I see you now, and you are beautiful and worth all of the pain and the sacrifice and the laying down of my Son's life.  You are worth while and loved so intensely.  Look to me.  Look to me.  I will be the good.  I will be the love.  I will be the strong arms that hold you and let you fall apart.  Look to me.  I've got you and I am never ever ever going to leave you.

Me- Ok, God, that is all well and good, and I want you to be all of those things.  So can you fix my marriage now?  Can you just help me to be whatever it is that he needs me to be so he will love me? Can you just make him see sense and tell him that what he is doing is wrong?

God- I know you're hurting, Copper.  I know you are grieving.  But you have a lot that you need to let me work on in you.  You have to stop worrying about all of the things that I need to do in him.  His time will come.  Maybe not as soon as you like- maybe too late for things to be made whole- but that's not something that you can control, so just let me take it.  Maybe your life won't look the way you dreamt it would.  Maybe you will have to know the sting of loss.  But here's the thing- that's not the end of your story.  I won't let that be the end-all.  I'm going to do works in you that are going to be so good.  And you can't see all that I can.  Your life still holds so much beauty and possibility. Just trust me.  Lean into me.  I AM the good.  I AM enough.  

So maybe my life is going to play out a little differently than I'd hoped.  Ok, maybe a lot differently. Maybe not.  That's the thing- I don't know.  But I do know that God will work it all for good.  Even if it's not necessarily my good.  Maybe my pain will bring help and hope and healing to someone down the road.  Maybe God will use all of this to shape me and mold me and give me the voice He wants me to have.  To speak life to someone that feels like they are dying.  I don't know.  I do know that He's got this.  And that I'm weak, so I am going to have to remind myself over and over and over that He has it all under control.  He's got this.  He's got me.  He is good.

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