Yesterday was such a crazy day. I woke up at 5:30 and ran through the cool grey of dawn, watching pink smears of clouds illuminate the winter sky. I prayed as I ran, then came back and wrote a poem entitled, “Peace.”
What irony, because almost as soon as I wrote it, my peace was disrupted. I was supposed to deliver Christmas presents to an underprivileged family in Tuskegee almost thirty minutes away, and part of the delivery was bikes. I had switched cars with my husband so I could load the bikes in his hatchback. Then I got busy, and forgot to move the rest of the presents from my car to his car. He drove off to work in Columbus, 45 minutes away in the other direction. The presents were gone.
When I realized this I felt terrible. It stinks growing older and more forgetful! I had carefully made an appointment with several people involved in the gift drop-off, and I hated to move the appointment. So I decided to deliver the bikes anyway, and set up another time to get the rest of the presents there.
As I drove my husband’s beat up old rattling Hyundai Accent, I prayed to God, “How can I feel better when I mess up?” In time, it came to me that God can make all things better. He can take what goes wrong, and work it for good.
And that is what happened. When I delivered the bikes, it turned out that one was too small. I would have to take it back and get a larger one. Another trip would need to be made anyway. And then one of the young men in our Tuskegee ministry who was going to help me with the delivery volunteered to take the presents to the family later this week! And then when I went to Walmart to exchange the bike, I ran into a young woman I had shared my faith with when I bought the bikes, and she gave me her phone number, and I connected her with a sister who lives near her!
Here are some Biblical examples of God working in situations that seem like things go wrong —
But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result–the survival of many people.” Genesis 50:19-20
While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” . . . He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed.” Mark 5
Lazarus now lay sick. . . So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4
1. NO FEAR – In reading these examples, it struck me how much fear was involved when things went wrong. That has been my battle lately, to unclench the tight fist of fear in my heart, to acknowledge it and deal with it. I have been repeating over and over to myself the words of Ps 45, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way…”
Even in trouble, even in situations when we mess up, we do not need to fear. God can ALWAYS help.
However, when we do make mistakes, we do need to take ownership of them. Fear is counterproductive. It makes us close in on ourselves, try to hide, instead of opening up and facing what we have done. We need to work it out through our relationship with God. “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight..” Ps 51:3-4
2. FOR GOD’S GLORY – in each of these situations, God intended to be glorified. God works things out not just because He cares about us (which he does — he wept as Mary wept), but because that is who He is. God is always working good amazing purposes. This was true with story of Joseph, and how the nation of Israel would survive and be built in Egypt. It is true with the story of Lazarus, which caused many to have faith, and allowed some of the most famous teachings of Jesus to come forth —
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” John 11:25-26
The raising of Lazarus was also pivotal in bringing about the persecution and death of Jesus, which in turn opened the way to his resurrection. It furthered God’s plan
3. GOD HEARS – Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” John 11:41 God is close to us, listening, caring. We can talk to him as we would talk to someone standing next to us. We can work it out with Him. His hearing results in action. (Think of Ps 18)
So yesterday was a roller coaster of things not going as expected. At Walmart, when I returned the bike I decided to get some of my other shopping done as long as I was there, and it took my whole morning and put a crimp in my schedule. People emailed me and added unexpected tasks to my day. My discipling group time got cancelled. But I also got so much done — a budget for church, scripts for Challenger films, shopping accomplished, butternut squash soup for dinner, even working out at Pure Barre and seeing Merike! When I look back on the day, it was great, full, blessed.
As I list the things I am thankful for, I see God’s hand so clearly. I also see that His hand will be in every day going forward. It makes me feel strong and capable.
Let me face the day without fear, knowing God hears. He is my HELPER always, even in my weakness and failure. Let me go so far as to THANK HIM that He is working good! His exciting purposes are being accomplished.
So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Heb 13:6
Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me Ps 54:4