Sometimes, apparently, God shows his power/love/mercy/goodness, and then adds an exclamation point. That's the way I felt this morning, anyway, when I read again the familiar verse, "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them" (Romans 8:28). In a gentle, only-God-can-do-it-like-that kind of way, it was like he said, "SEE, JULIE!!! I've kept this promise to you. I AM good; and my works are good....And you are Mine."
On this, the 1 month birthday of our precious Joshua, I am testifying to a God Who has indeed pulled out all the stops. We received a contract last night for the sale of our house in Frankston (that's the exclamation point to his goodness). I've never considered myself a person for whom God answers personal prayers. Really. Certainly not at the moment I ask them. I celebrate and applaud when I've prayed for others and seen God work in their situations, but I'm like the Children of Israel when it comes to faith. I remember what He's done in the past, and praise Him for it, but I don't expect Him to act again. I'm embarrassed to confess these feelings, but in the interest of complete vulnerability and authenticity...it's true. And I rarely, if ever hand people the line, "all in God's time." Even though it is biblical (Ecc. 3), it doesn't help. When I've finally gotten to the point that I ask God to act, I usually need him to act now! But, the events of the last month and half have reiterated the truth of God's sovereignty. He does nothing haphazardly or by accident or without intent. My mom, when she learned about the contract on the house, said, "It's like the Lord was waiting for one piece of the puzzle to be put in place so the rest of these prayers could be answered." That one piece was Joshua. It's no accident his name means, "God is salvation." God has been saving us and saving up all of these answers. Yet, Satan knows just how to play with me. I'm not the eternal optimist my husband is. I'm a die-hard realist who can quickly slip into cynicism and negativity. Knowing that, Satan tells me, "Sure, things are great now, but the bottom will drop out. Watch and see." So the power struggle for Truth rages on in my mind and heart.
It's a struggle familiar to most who walk with Christ. My friend Beth, battling cancer right now, for example. Her sweet husband Dave blogged yesterday about Christ's deliberate choice to wait to go to Lazarus. His delay meant not simply healing, but instead the necessity of actually raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11). But Jesus had a reason: "for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified (v. 4) and for the benefit of the people [watching], that they may believe that [God] sent me" (v. 42). [You can read more about Beth's journey here, if you'd like to join her prayer team.] Two chapters earlier, Jesus himself tells us about a man born blind, "so the power of God could be seen in him" (v. 3).
While our struggle with infertility, this man's blindness and Beth's cancer can't be resolved with "Sunday School answers," there is a comfort and peace in knowing that God has a reason. And that reason? His glory. It's not because he's vain or needs the ego-boost of our praise. It's because in his orchestration of the details of our lives and his work in them, we come to a place of humility, recognizing our need for his hand. His glory is a way of reminding us, even proving to us, his value and worth and necessity in our lives. What's amazing is that he desires to be a part of our crazy, mixed-up, error and sin-filled existences. Because of love. As Darin preached on Sunday: he chose us.
While I would have been fine for God to answer our prayers one at a time over the course of the last 18 months, perhaps he chose to bundle them all together, "so the power of God could be seen." Hear me clearly, it is not because Darin or I have earned any of the blessings he's bestowed. It is because God is good and powerful. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things; To Him be the glory forever. (Romans 11:36).
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