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 –

 

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Days to Come

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Laughter is a form of release, a kind of surrender to the moment. It is, when sincere, truly opening yourself to the joy of right now, almost a form of unconscious thanksgiving.

I want to laugh.

Tomorrow is a crazy, uncontrolled thing. Scary at times, uncertain, wild as wind.

I want to laugh.

But I can’t quite decide what kind of laugh I want. Some laughs are overdone, annoying. Some aren’t even worth the breath used, as dry and mirthless as a frown.

I want a laugh that is alive, brimming over with joy and faith in the God who holds not only my history and moments, but the history yet to be written, and the moments yet to be born.

I want to laugh, because I believe that in and beyond all the weary frustrations and holy moments there is a wild, sacred joy that lays just beyond my stretching fingers. I brush the fringes, the outskirts of the Uncontainable. The shivers run up my fingers–hot, cold, jolting–like an electric current, like a sea of blue ice.

A laugh can be a prayer, a fountain bubbling up.

A laugh can be forgiveness, soothing over a fault with love, the healing of a joyful spirit. Laughing at ourselves, knowing when to be serious and knowing when it is good to just see the humor in our constant relational contortions.

A laugh can be faith, a kind of looking toward the dawn that is sure to come…but is not quite yet seen.

Strong, brave, joyous is the woman who can lift up her face to the road ahead and truly laugh.

“She laughs at the days to come…”

– Proverbs 31:25 –

Is there a “Christian” laugh?

I think so.

The laugh of faith.

The Christian laughs at this life where condemnation is the only expected reward and yet we get…grace.

Grace! For us, the rebels who ran. Grace, because God came to us.

Laughter of boundless joy, of faith in a God of impossibilities, was a familiar thing to Abraham:

“The laughter of Abraham and Sarah at the angel’s extraordinary announcement does not eliminate the darkness, because through the long, childless years of the past, darkness has already taken its toll, and in the long years that lie ahead there will be darkness for them still as, for instance, when Abraham is asked to take the child of the promise and offer him to God as a burnt offering. They both still have to face the darkness both of death and of life in a world where God is seen at best only from afar, through a glass darkly; but with their laughter something new breaks into their darkness, something so unexpected and preposterous and glad they can only laugh at it in astonishment….It all happened not of necessity not inevitably, but gratuitously, freely, hilariously. And what was astonishing, gratuitous, hilarious was, of course, the grace of God.”

– Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth, pages 56, 57, emphasis mine –

This grace of God is what secures our tomorrow. This grace of God is why we can laugh the laugh of faith.

Abraham’s laugh was smack in the middle of a long journey to an unknown land. The apostle Paul sang in a cell. Jesus rejoiced between planning ministry trips, condemning the hardness of Israel’s heart, and debating with lawyers (Luke 10:21-22).

Laughter is not about reaching the end of the journey, getting out of the prison, escaping from the crowds.

Laughter is about faith in a God of grace, who has a glorious plan–not only for this day, but also for the days to come.

Lift up your faces to the dawn and laugh–He holds the Future!


 “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

– Philippians 4:4-7, NKJV –


Thanks again to Atalie Bale Photography for such a lovely photo for today’s topic!