In All Things…

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

 

Ah, those famous words. “All things God works for the good of those who love him…” Romans 8:28 are words that often seem to come up when we are confounded by life.  They are tossed our way by other well meaning souls in hopes of offering genuine comfort or at the very least in hopes of placating our souls. For some these words do bring great comfort, for others, they can seem empty and even mocking.

I confess I’ve been in both camps at various points in my life. Sometimes, I’m able to lean and trust that God’s plans, even if they are not working out in my favor are still good plans… Other times, I’ve wondered how any part of a life burden could bring good?

It was reminded me this week that a little more than 6 years ago, I was in a pit of sorrow. I had just gone through one of the most trialing times ever in my marriage to that point. We had made it. But life was still raw and uncertain. Yet, God found reason to place in my womb a new life. And all I could figure was that He must have a good plan. God must know something that I didn’t at the time. He knew I could somehow handle caring for a new life when my own still seemed so fragile.

But, as the weeks went on… that life, that flutter of a heartbeat vanished. And I was left in the dark about God’s good plan. I was left with a vacant hole in my heart. I was left rocking and trying to understand how a “Good God” after so much hardship would strip away the very thing that might of been good, that might have testified “Restored,” from our lives.

Yeah, Roman 8:28 rang hollow in those days.

But, life steps forward whether we are ready to step forward with it, doesn’t it? Sunrise to sunset the days come and they go, and we move with them.  And to some extent time does heal all wounds and God speaks again. Jesus softly whispers: “I didn’t do the destroying. I’m too good for that. I came for you to have life, abundant life.” (Ref. John 10:10

And there were glimpses of the good plan again. If only in that I now knew the grief another might encounter. I could now better (I hoped) walk alongside someone, and mourn as they mourned.

Good enough, I suppose.

Leading the children in Sunday school last week, I found myself lead to the story of Joseph. You know him? Josephs story begins in Genesis 37, picks back up in Genesis 39 and continues until the end of the book.

Joseph: the favored son, the one who bared the envy of his brothers. The boy who at 17 was tossed in a pit, sold as a slave, later thrown into prison, and oh yeah, who God was with the whole time, yet he still couldn’t seem to catch a break.

As I read the children’s version of this story to these wide eyed 4 and 5 year-olds, I heard myself saying after every turn of the page, “But, God had a plan.”
I began to wonder, if Joseph ever questioned God’s plan? Did he ever think, “Seriously? Now what?”
It is true we don’t know his thought process in the whole matter, and sure, there is plenty to wonder about. Was it wise for him to so chipperly chat up his brothers about these prophetic dreams of his? Eh, maybe not. Should he maybe have second guessed working in the house alone with his bosses wife? Probably.

However, the theme that I kept catching as I went back and re-read the story. I began to see that whether Joseph was acutely aware or not, whether things were good or not, God was still with him.

God was with Joseph when everything he did prospered and God was with him when it all fell apart in his hands. God never at any point said, “Sorry, I’m out.”

In the end what did Joseph have to say about all that he had gone through? Essentially (and I am paraphrasing) he was able to say, “I can now see God had a plan.” (Ref Genesis 45:4-8

You see, when we are in the midst of hard. When we are in the valley of sorrow, or pain, or whatever heartache we face. The thing I hope you will remember is that God has not left you. Whether we are the subject of the enemy’s cruelty or our own poor choices. Whether we are a victim of circumstance or have come to where we are by our own steps. God has not left. He sees. He knows. And He can and will bring us to the other side, however far the journey. Why? Because of the other part of that Romans verse. Because we love him, we have been called according to his purposes. He has a plan.

Later this week we are celebrating a birthday. Six short years after my time of deep sorrow, I will hold the hand of a little girl who will be turning five years old. I call her my “Rainbow Baby.” She is the child born after the storm. Born after grief and loss. She is our gift. And God didn’t skimp either. He gave her passion, and the light and love of several children. The very light of her smile is testimony that God overcomes darkness EVERY TIME.

Romans 8-28 blog

~Rita

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Reference
Romans 8:28
John 10:10 NKJV
Genesis 37
Genesis 39 – 50

Mirror Mirror

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Read 2 Corinthians 4

I think it is interesting that one of the bi-products (if we can call it that) of having children is the opportunity to see ourselves more deeply. I’m of course not just talking about the physical attributes, though those are fun. I’m speaking more to the deeper things. The soul inspiring, or soul crushing. The things we wish to hide about ourselves or the things we love about ourselves. Never have I been more humbled than by a the words spoken from a round little face with more heart in her eyes than in her chest. Words that at one point may have been my own, be they loving and life giving, or soul injuring.

As a mother, every day I am watched and mimicked and copy-cat’ed. Sometimes it makes me laugh. Sometimes, it makes me want to hide and have a good cry. Parenting has so much beauty and it is also so much hard. No doubt, it is a refining fire.

And it reminds me of something else, for these mirror like little bodies walking around me all day long, I am also a mirror. Or at least I am supposed to cast the reflection of someone else. Sure, I am a reflection of my own upbringing, but if we are Jesus followers we are also supposed to be vessels of light shining the nature and character of the one who has seen us in our most broken states, and loved us anyway. The one who had no fear of our screaming, our tantrums, our own ugly moments and saved us anyway. We are to be Jesus mirrors.

Every day (by God’s great mercy) I find myself learning more and more about the reflection I am casting on these little ones around me. Of course I will not even suggest that I have things figured out. No, our bedtime routine (or the lack there of) last night was an absolute testimony to the fact that I don’t. But, I am in the process of learning and becoming more aware, that while I am walking in the mercy and grace my Father in Heaven has shown me. I must also look for the opportunities to shine Christ, though dimly, to these little ones and others around me.

~

I know these people. They are probably the most unique people I have ever met. They have chosen to do something really, rather radical. They said, “Yes” to God. And they said, “Yes.” wholeheartedly with no holding back. What is so interesting about these people is that I would say they glow. Not in some weird ethereal way. But, often (and I do know they are human) they shine Jesus in a way that I would say is rare and precious today.

It has taken me a long time to understand it. But, it dawned on me the other day, as I was coming away from a moment where I had yet again failed to be light in my own home, to my own little mission field. That what was making me different from these people I so admire and respect, is that when I look at them, I totally see the reflection of Jesus.

I began to consider why there was such a stark contrast in how me, as a redeemed human’s light was so different from these other redeemed humans? It finally dawned on me perhaps it was the level of “Yes” they had offered God.

~

Isn’t Jesus good? Today, as I sit here watching the sun rise on a land that yesterday was cast in shadows, rain, and darkness. That the difference between darkness and light is the filter through which it shines. The sun was always behind the clouds of yesterday, though they blocked it’s golden rays. But, this morning, with the clouds scattered that light is free to fall on and through the freshly washed trees and grasses.

My point: Christ is always with us, waiting patiently to shine through us. And the best way to clear out the clouds is to repent, and then say, “Yes.” Not so we can be like anyone else, but so that we can shine more like Him.

 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

2 Corinthians 4:5-7

~Rita

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Reference:
2 Corinthians 4

Perspective Adjustment

2 Cor 13-11

I personally love to receive adjustments to my perspective. These moments where God steps in a realigns what is out of place in my heart are of great value to me. I also love how they come in the moments I least expect.
My most recent adjustment came last week.

So, last week my son got glasses for the first time. As you can imagine this was a significant event in his life. For me however, it was a bit of a shock. Up until this year, he had had pretty good vision. He had no trouble reading. And other than seeming to be inching himself closer to the TV, I really hadn’t noticed a change, nor did he ever complain about having trouble seeing anything in the distance.

Nevertheless, the result from the eye exam: Nearsighted.

Fast forward two weeks when his glasses arrived and we went to the eye doctor to have them fitted. This is where the adjustment in my perspective began to take place.
As my son sat in the chair in front of the attendant, mirror before of him, the gentleman cleaned the already spotless lenses of his new glasses and handed them to my boy. “Go ahead and try’em out.” he said. Gingerly holding the glasses my son slid them on and over his ears. “What do you think?” I ask. Totally expecting him to be looking at his own reflection in the mirror. To my amusement he was not even looking in the direction of the mirror. He was looking at the rows of glasses on the wall, he was looking toward the back of the building. His gaze took him around the entire room. And that’s when my heart broke a little. He was trying to see everything he couldn’t before.

He also, was not the least bit interested in what these glasses did to change his appearance.

Over this past week, so many new observations have been shared. Things I have taken as common place have been exciting for him. Things that I have counted as small have shown up large to him.

This week, that still small voice within has been asking if I get it yet? Do I get that it is more important and more valuable to see what is around me than to focus on me? Do I get that the ordinary in every day can be extraordinary? Do I see that letting my gaze fall far, letting it fall on Christ and the glorious future he has planned for us, helps bring meaning, purpose and clarity to what seems out of focus or out of order today? 

Then on Sunday, our pastor took time to notice my sons new glasses and take time to celebrate them. If I’m honest, I haven’t been feeling so excited about this process, thinking still about the hassle glasses might impose on a energetic young man. But, in that moment that still small voice piped up again, “Do you get it? Do you see that restoration that brings clarity is worthy of rejoicing?”
Yes, I think I’m starting to get it. And so, we rejoiced.

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice!
Strive for full restoration,
encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.
And the God of love and peace will be with you.

2 Corinthians 13:11

 

~Rita