good: revisited.

I'm sitting here in a weary, weathered stupor convinced that the tears have stopped. But sure enough, a few thoughts and the trusty blues have gone wet on me again.

I was driving home tonight after a couple frustrating hours and I realized how easy it is to dwell on the things gone wrong. I realize this is not an epiphany that startles many (I am just slow). But, driving home in my metal box with hands clenched to the shuddering steering wheel, I realized that the immeasurable and unimaginable things God is capable of are exactly not what I could hope.

When we think of "things beyond our imaginations" we think of unprecedented good things, falling from heaven like magnificent Christmas miracles wrapped in the magic of angeldust. Okay, maybe that's what comes to my mind, but I am just adding color and pictures to what (I think) most feel and hope. Far be it from me to attempt to know, explain, or even guess at how the work of blessing comes about in the mind of our Creator...(of course I foolishly continue)... I think I have pushed my assumptions about what the Lord has waiting for me, in hopes of realizing some magical, inexplicable blessings. Though I can't contemplate what God has already said is past our bounds, I can meditate on the words of Scripture to seek wisdom.

In Acts 9, God chose Saul to be His instrument (9:15) to spread the Gospel to the Jews (who he had previously been persecuting) and to the Gentiles. When Ananias, the servant God commanded to meet Saul, questioned the Lord this was His reply, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name" (9:15-16).

And so I think about that. This blessing - far, far, far beyond what Saul could have possibly asked for or imagined. In fact, he did not even know how to imagine something like this, from a God he scarcely understood and from a religion he vehemently opposed. To suggest such a scenario prior to his experience was the very reason he was, "breathing out murderous threats" (Acts 9:1).

I am not a scholar, far from. But, it seems to me very simple - this business of blessing and good things and being a child of God. All good things do come from above, yes (James 1:16-18). But I must understand my own definition of good. I associate certain expectations and assumptions with the words 'good' and 'gift'. Among those associations there is no reference to: shipwreck, starvation, persecution, imprisonment, physical and verbal abuse... the list of trials afflicting God's chosen instrument goes on and on. Paul explained in his letter to the Philippians (4), that he learned the secret to living in any situation: Christ. The Lord told Ananias, "I will show him (Saul) how much he must suffer for my name." And even as Paul's situation looks most dire he is writing the church at Philippi to REJOICE. He is sharing the secret to that joy and contentment: the good and perfect gift of Jesus Christ. The Lord gave His Son to the world - a gift that would be marred with stripes and heavy with the burden of a world's iniquities. This gift is beyond good - and beyond any superlative I could substitute. In the same way that we cannot imagine how the Lord will bless, we cannot begin to understand the goodness of our Savior.

The selfish compromise - the sin of our humanity - has made necessary our understanding of 'gift' to be in light of a greater, future glory (Romans 8:16-25). There is so, so much more here! We, the children of God, are groaning with creation as we await our adoption and the redemption of our bodies. A restless heart, indeed!

And so, I sigh and know that I can be at peace. For the LORD, Maker of heaven and earth, holds me in His palm. Though failure stretches across my past and present like a dreadful scar, the LORD hears my groans and gives blessed hope (Romans 8:24-25). And I will struggle in perseverance as I wait eagerly for what I do not see, toward that which cannot be explained, because I know. I know that my Redeemer lives!

and I am brimming with thankfulness that His plans are exactly not what I can imagine