No Good Thing

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When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”

– Corrie Ten Boom –


Help me trust you.

I DO trust you. But I also fear you, dear Lord. I, silly child, fear that this one thing will be kept back from me. One incredibly good thing, scooted away from the table’s edge out of the reach of my grasping fingers.

But You do not withhold any good thing from me, do You?

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.” – Psalm 84:11, NKJV

I was praying this last week, struggling with fear. Fear that my plans would go awry and all my carefully-constructed life would go tumbling off into uncertainty.

I’m not sure this has ever happened so vividly before, but as I was praying–nearly crying–over my fear, this verse popped into my head. “No good thing will He withhold…” I suddenly thought. The words were immediate and forceful. Not a voice, but a sudden assurance.

It took me by surprise. What a good God we have! Not a moment after I confessed my fears, He allowed this perfect verse to jump into my mind.

I was immediately both calmed and convicted. A moment before, I had been almost panicking because I was not getting my way. Now, I breathed and realized something:

If something would be good for me today, God would have given it to me.

The fact that He held back this desire of mine doesn’t mean He is not good–instead, it means that what I wanted wasn’t the best thing for me right now. Maybe it will be good for me later. Or maybe it will never be a good thing for me.

How simple! And yet, my heart was so comforted by remembering the God is not a hard taskmaster scheming for my misery. How often do we picture Him that way, just waiting to squelch our dreams?

He is not like that at all! He is a loving, indulgent Father who delights to bring us joy…but He also delights to strengthen our character. Sometimes that means doing things that we don’t particularly understand or even like at the moment. But it will end up for our ultimate joy and good.

“My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing. But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.”

– James 1:2-5, CEB –

That is my big struggle, how about you? To believe that “God is up to something good for us in all our delays and detours” (John Piper). Because, honestly?

They just feel like plain ol’ delays and detours. And dead ends, sometimes, too.

But I believe they are so much more than that. Today, I chose to smile at that precious verse–that reminder that God will not withhold one single good and lovely thing from me. And I choose to trust that His definition of “good” is a lot more accurate than mine.

Take a deep breath. Isn’t that freeing? Today, God has given me every gift I need. Because He is so good.


“Outside of the will of God, there is nothing I want, and in the will of God, there is nothing I fear.”

 – A.W. Tozer –

 

Not Even Room

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What if we dared enough to take God at His Word?

What if we stopped succumbing to satan’s lies long enough to open our eyes?

If we stepped out in faith

On the Words of One who cannot, ever, fail.

And made our stand there?

It was a number of days after the crucifixion of the God-man and a thousand hopes.

Confused disciples returned to stiff nets and barnacled fishing boats, three years seemingly wasted. They had left all to follow a rabbi who spoke in mind-boggling parables and kingdom-words that turned upside down everything they’d ever known.

But then he was dead…or did he now live? The eleven in a room had seen him, but nothing was happening. If He was alive, and more than a vision of wistful hearts, a dream that made them glad for a moment before it vanished, why wasn’t He driving out Rome? No kingdom was coming. The turning over of all their dreams was for nothing.

So they slogged through silty waters that lapped cool up their calves and pushed out creaking, reeking vessels and went fishing. It was always wait, wait, wait with Him. If it wasn’t a dream, why wasn’t He acting? But if His words were not true, what else was left to them?

And a man, one lone man talking a solitary walk on a bare shoreline, started to kindle a fire.

Perhaps over the salty breeze whipped the scent of fish baking among coals, and the heady, yeasty fullness of bread warming among ashes.

Maybe the fishermen didn’t notice. Or their stomachs rumbled and they grumbled curses because their own efforts to feed themselves were utterly failing.

Perhaps John, that one that lay on the bosom of God in flesh, smelled the drifting scent and remembered the Bread of Life, those words of eating and drinking of flesh and blood.

Impatient Peter, ripping nets up from the water, perhaps now threw them down in disgust. Once he could fish; now, he could neither fish nor follow. Follow what? A vision that bid only to wait, with no victory in sight?

But now—hear—a voice. That man on the shore is waving.

“Throw your nets in on the other side. The right side.”

Maybe Peter laughs, low and bitter. “All night,” he grumbles.

John, that loved one, gets a light in his eyes and motions to guileless Nathaniel, who once said he believed. Peter grunts and pulls himself off the floor of the boat to give them a hand. What will it hurt, after all?

I just wonder, how wide their eyes opened then, after a night of sleepless watching for just a scale shining among the tawny fibers of net?

I just wonder, how brilliantly that morning stole up behind them, glittering on the silvered backs of one hundred and fifty-three of the sea’s largest fish?

How that vessel must have at once exploded with shouts and jumping over cast-off clothing and dredged-up piles of sea debris in the rush for the teeming nets. Shoulders muscle-knotted with lives of labor—unable to pull up the catch. Just too many.

And then the silence. “What kind of man is this?” Did the whisper come again, like the refrain of a symphony, through lips that had once spoken it before? (Matthew 8:27)

The nets groaned with flapping, gill-gasping life. The brawny, weather-cut hands are still, open in wonder.

And life fluttered within seven disciple hearts gone limp. Peter looked at John. John’s eyes widened. “It’s the Lord.”

One book I read recounted this:

“But when Jesus came and stood in their midst, they merely had to let down their net once and such an abundance was caught that they didn’t even have room in their boat to contain it all” (Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy, page 168).

Not even room to hold it.

This abundance that fills over capacity and yet does not break the nets.

This filling that only the universe’s King can bring to a heart—and makes a dry spring overflow with life-water joy.

Maybe they had cursed their inability to feed themselves after a night of toiling, sweat-dripping fishing.

Don’t we do the same? Grind ourselves into the ground just to survive, just to eat and live.

But the man on the shore beckons to the right side.

His side, the side of right, the side of the pierced wounds.

Throw there, just there.

All of you—throw overboard all your labors, your nights of wearying, your own way of doing it.

Throw yourself too, there, at His feet.

And just see if the windows of heaven are not thrown open and your hungry mouth is filled.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace,

that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

– Hebrews 4:16, NKJV –

Thank you to photographer Karen Arnold in conjunction with Public Domain Pictures.net for the fishing net image.

Abundance, a Song Big Enough

“I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.”

~ John 10:10b, emphasis mine ~

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“That He came to us is the most stunning event, most astounding fact in history.

That we can’t get to the cross…so the Cross came to us.”

– Dr. Jeff Meyers, emphasis mine

In a culture and world so desperately sin-sick, I so often lose sight of the “bookends” of God’s story. When I lose the creation context, I forget that God is the Planner, the “Blessed Controller.” The fall sweeps me into the hope-vacuum and it becomes focused on me and my constant failures, my own desperation.

But as a storyteller myself, I finally came back to the Redemption and my personal world rocks with the glory. My heart, my head, can’t quite wrap around the starkness, the blinding, universe-shaking moment that the dragging, imploding darkness flees with the explosion of glorious light. And my heart quiets, somehow wishing for a song big enough to encompass my redemption.

In the world, it seems my personal failures are only mirrored, compounded, and spreading like a virus. What can solve this sin-death, but the One who took on flesh?

And oh, the breathless beauty that He did!

By Jesus taking on humanity, He abundantly sanctified all our normalcy.

“How is such a spiritual, “out-there” thing so earthy? So, here and now?

So Redemption is what we live in, the light that floods us with life.”

– Dr. Jeff Myers, emphasis mine –

There is a life out there that many of us have only begun to taste. An abiding, abundant, peace-radiant, joy-bubbling, Christ-longing life.

Our Father knows what we need before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8).

He knows we need this abundant life. He knows there is a song-gap in every heart, a longing for music with a swell big enough to carry us through a life and into an eternity.

Not only does he know about this song-hunger–He made it. He made souls that serve a Master. But what Master will we follow?

Only one song will quench us. Only One Life will fill us.

My dear teacher Dr. Jeff Myers taught his students about the principle of abundance. That is, we are not to be content with mediocrity. We are not to be content with merely a well-run race of our own.

An abundant life is a life that spreads. It is light that reaches out. It is a singer that teaches the Greatest Song to every longing soul she finds.

And this abundance–it isn’t something you have to find. It is already yours.

It’s why He came.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

– Matthew 7:7-8, NKJV, emphasis mine –

Sisters, just ask. Today, ask. Enter the abundance that the Cross unleashed.

“If God has given you life abundantly, why aren’t you using it?”

~ Luci Swindoll ~

“To the one who is able to protect you from falling, and to present you blameless and rejoicing before his glorious presence,to the only God our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, belong glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time, now and forever. Amen.”

– Jude 24-25, CEB, emphasis mine-

Special thanks to Atalie Bale at ataliebalephotography.com for her beautiful photo of abundance!