Monday, July 7, 2014

God is good, all the time...

Noah cracks me up; he gets his sense of humor from his dad. There are times when he says something so funny, I have no words. I just laugh and look at him, then say, "I love you."

Once, after I said that, he laughed and said I just love him when he's funny. He was kidding, but it made me wonder why I say  it so often during times he makes me laugh or does something sweet. I do love him then, but I also love him even when he is being obnoxious, or in a mood. My love for him isn't based on what he does. I just love him all the time.

There is something our awesome worship leader says at church frequently: "God is good, all the time; and all the time, God is good." 

It is true. Often I hear other people, and I will say it myself, after something goes really great in my life and we talk about how good God is. Like, getting extra money that was needed, or a surgery going well, or making it home safely. And He definitely gets the credit for all those things, and I am extremely thankful for each one of them. 

But I have to make certain I know He is good even when...

Even when money doesn't come, or there are complications, or car trouble. God is good.

His good isn't proven by His actions. He defines good. All the time.

In the Bible, a guy named Hezekiah was King of Judah and was doing an excellent job at it. II Kings 18, verse 5 says, "Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him." He kept God's commands and was very successful.

But he wasn't perfect. In chapter 20, some visitors from Babylon's kingdom stop by for a visit after Hezekiah had been so sick he nearly died. He welcomes them in and shows them every single thing he has in his kingdom.

What's the harm in this? It doesn't sound that bad, but it's possible Hezekiah is doing this in an effort to sway the Babylonian kingdom to his side in fighting the Assyrians, just leaning a little to the side of depending on human power rather than God's.

Isaiah quickly brings a message from God, saying that Judah will eventually be taken over by Babylon, leaving nothing. While this won't happen during Hezekiah's lifetime, it has a devastating impact on his descendants.

Crummy, right? But Hezekiah's response...

"The word of the Lord you have spoken is good."

God's word is good because God is good. He defines good.

Seriously, read this book... So good...
In Jennie Allen's book, "Anything" (which I HIGHLY recommend, by the way), she talks about her friend Rachel, who had a damaging childhood, with lasting effects into her adulthood. Yet Rachel is filled with joy and love for others, even for those who had hurt her, and most especially for her Jesus.

When asked how she could not feel like a victim, she answered, "You have to thank God for the seemingly good and the seemingly bad because really, you don't know the difference." (page 59)

She knew beauty could come from what seemed bad, and the same can happen from what seems like our bad as well.

We really don't know the difference, just looking at a situation as it's happening. Only God does. We have our own ideas for sure, but our scales aren't weighted the same as God's. He can see with an eternal sort of vision.

We can be much like a kid would see a good lunch as one filled with Cool Ranch Doritos and gummy worms, but a parent would know that vegetables and fruit and protein are good for helping the child grow and thrive. The parent knows what ultimately is good for the child. God knows what is good.

It is easy to see God as good when we are given the metaphorical Doritos and gummy worms, but He is just as good when we are given the metaphorical carrot sticks. He knows what is best for us, and ultimately what is best for bringing Him glory.

And trusting Him in this, it is the most freeing thing we can do.

If you are in the middle of some crummy stuff, trust God. This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. If you believe He is real, and He is good, then you can trust His plan. And that trust can bring with it peace and rest, which is way better than worry anyway.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good;
     Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him." - Psalm 34:8

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A lesson from some lightning bugs

The sunshine had gleamed off the pool water just hours before, but suddenly a storm was rolling in. What seemed to be one enormous black cloud that covered most of the sky was moving quickly toward our home, and the wind ripped through our neighborhood. And just like that, the electricity was gone.
As the evening turned to nightfall, with the storm long-gone, the hope for a quick fix was beginning to fade. I stepped on the porch, looking at my usually busy and well-lit neighborhood and seeing simple darkness.

But the longer I stood there and let my eyes adjust, I began to see a few lightning bugs in our tree. Then as if they were multiplying, there were bunches of them in the tree, and as I looked across the street, the other trees in the neighborhood began flicker with their light
This isn't my yard or my bugs,
but it was a pretty picture :)
It was beautiful. In that moment, I felt God’s presence and began to thank him for the lesson he was teaching me.
Every evening those fascinating little bugs could be filling the trees and I miss out on them. Between my busyness and the lights and distractions all around me, they are hard to see, and I don’t take the time to stop and look for them.

Often, I’m sad to say, my time with God is similar. I let so many other things distract me from purposely taking moments of my day to focus on Him, listening for his words that He is speaking just for me that day, and sharing things from my heart with Him. Sometimes it’s hard to hear Him when I let so many other things take priority. It’s not how He intended it to be.

Our time with God is crucial. When I don’t take those moments with God, my fears get bigger, my confidence weakens, and my sense of direction gets skewed. God knows how much we need Him; He created us to be with Him. But there is someone else whose main job is to keep that from happening. Satan doesn’t want us to focus on God. He knows the power that comes with that, and for him that is bad news.

Thankfully, there are times in our lives when we are forced to slow down and make him a priority. Often those times don’t feel like a blessing, muck like the loss of electricity with its frizzy hair and cold showers didn’t feel like a blessing in the beginning. But when I begin to see what God is trying to show me during those times, it is worth it.

Spending time with God has so many benefits… Seeing new things in scripture, feeling a sense of direction, peace just when we need it, a reminder of how much we are loved by the creator of everything.

So together, let’s make it a priority to spend time with God daily. We need it. And keep your eye out for the lightning bugs… they really are beautiful.

Matthew 6:33

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”