I’m going to do something I’ve never done with this blog before, and that’s expound a little on a previous post – my August 27 post, The Fixer (https://quickandrandommusings.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/the-fixer/). And I’m doing that because something kind of amazing has happened. Maybe for the first time in my Christian life (43 years of my 58-year existence), that flash of illumination I got (yeah, you should really go read that post first; it’s short and it’ll explain that) has stuck. It didn’t disappear. I still get it! It’s about dang time.
I have to admit that usually those flashes go as quickly as they come. It really is like lightening on a dark night – I see everything so very clearly for just those few seconds, and it’s marvelous, it’s exciting, it’s awe-inspiring. And then it’s gone.
That’s probably not something a 43-year veteran of the Christian family should be bragging about. But that’s what makes this flash such an amazing one – because here it is, a week later, and I still get it. In fact, I get it even better than I did a week ago.
It’s all about Romans 8:28. If you’ve been a Christian for more than, say, a week, you know the verse. It’s probably second only to John 3:16 in a Christian’s arsenal: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose.
I could quote that verse almost from day one. Shoot, that’s one of the very few verses I actually know where to find in the Bible. I am notoriously bad at learning a verse’s “address.” Another thing I probably should not be bragging about.
But it was only in the last week that I really, truly, down in my deepest soul, got that verse. Got what God meant by that verse. And by getting that one verse, out of all the verses in the Bible, my faith has become the kind of faith that really, truly produces peace that passes all human understanding.
I’m honestly not sure I can articulate this very well, because I think it’s something that everyone has to experience for themselves. I’ve read commentaries on Romans, including that verse of course; I’ve heard sermons on that verse; I’ve done Bible studies on it. It’s been pounded in my head for 43 years. I’ve clung to it for comfort during difficulties; I’ve used it as a mantra at times – “God works all thing for good, God works all thing for good, ooohhhmmm oooohhhmmm.”
Maybe it’s because, in my own particular life, things have always worked out pretty well. I’ve had an easy life. I lost a brother in car accident; that was a tragedy and was difficult, but ultimately God revealed to me how that actually did work for good. My older son was born very prematurely, and that was scary and very difficult, but it led to my being involved in starting a support group and a breast milk bank at the hospital, which were good things, and ultimately my boy was just fine and is now a grown man with a family of his own. I lost my dad earlier than I would have liked, but not before my kids got to know their grandpa. My mom lived to be 80 and although her last years weren’t that great, they weren’t as bad as some, and we had some really good times together as I cared for her. I got cancer, but it was resolved with surgery, and I’m just fine now.
I still have my sister, one of the best friends I could ever ask for. My husband still loves me after close to 36 years, which is a minor miracle in itself. I have three amazing grandchildren.
When you’ve had such a blessed life, it’s easy to read Romans 8:28 as saying “Just wait, honey child, it might be a little rocky right now but pretty soon everything is gonna be okay.” That’s how I always read it up till now. And by “okay” I meant my definition of “okay.” As in, the problem would be solved to my satisfaction.
But what happens when it’s not okay? What happens when it’s not resolved to my satisfaction? I used to think, that just means I need to wait a little longer, right? Because God promised “good.” Right?
Here’s what was revealed in the Flash: God has a broader definition of “good” than I do.
Throughout the past year, and continuing even now, I’ve been dealing with some difficulties that I want to control, that I have been heartbroken over, but that are not mine to fix. There are uncertain outcomes in my future. In some cases I have high hopes – the demons that chase some of the people I love seem to be losing the battle, but demons are wily and I want to put on the armor and go into the fray and beat them once and for all myself, but it’s not my battle. In other cases I am unsure – relationships I thought were rock solid until the end of time seem to be teetering, and I want to go in with superglue and bandaids and make everything hold together, but I can’t. There are health issues for me and people I love that I can’t fix because … well, duh, I’m not God.
So here’s the thing. If the demons get their claws back into my loved one, that is not okay. If relationships rend apart, that is not okay. If my health deteriorates, that is not okay. If the health of my loved ones deteriorates, that is not okay. The list goes on. None of that is okay. (Well, the health issues are kind of inescapable with age, but I’m getting old and I don’t want them.) None of that is good.
Except … I love God, and I am called according to His purpose. So, therefore, all of that, if/when it happens, is going to work for good. It might not turn out with my proverbial happy ending. It might not make me happy happy happy. It might be painful. It might cause me to suffer. It might be everything I would define as “not good.”
Max Lucado, in his book You’ll Get Through This, gives this analogy:
“Suppose the wife of George Frideric Handel came upon a page of her husband’s famous oratorio Messiah. The entire work was more than two hundred pages long. Imagine that she discovered one page on the kitchen table. On it her husband had written only one measure in a minor key, one that didn’t work on its own. Suppose she, armed with this fragment of dissonance, marched into his studio and said, ‘This music makes no sense. You are a lousy composer.’ What would he think? Perhaps something similar to what God thinks when we do the same. We point to our minor key – our sick child, crutches, or famine – and say, ‘This makes no sense!’ Yet out of all his creation, how much have we seen? And of all his work how much do we understand? Only a sliver…. Let God finish his work. Let the composer complete his symphony.”
If and when things in my life do not turn out the way I would define them as “good,” I know (“And we know…”) that there is more to the symphony than I am hearing, a bigger picture I cannot see.
Now, after 43 years of being a Christian, I fully trust that the picture I cannot see, that I may never see until I get to heaven, is a good one, no matter what it looks like to me here on earth. And because I fully trust in that, I am finally experiencing that other thing Christians talk about all the time — the peace that passes all understanding. It’s not happiness, it’s not giddiness, it’s not “let’s go dance in the rain” joy. I still hope God’s idea of good looks a whole lot like my idea of good. I really really really hope it does.
But I know now that it might not, and I know that that doesn’t mean God doesn’t love me. It just means I’m not hearing the whole symphony. It may not make me feel giddy with happiness, but it’s not going to make me sick with worry. I am at peace about it. My life is in good Hands.
I hope you guys figure it out quicker than I did.