Thursday, September 27, 2007

P.S. It's All Good

When I was a dorm supervisor at Bible college, I once shared a devotion on Romans 8:28. You're familiar with the verse no doubt, quoted below in the KJV I used at the time:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Using the ingredients panel of a cereal box, we agreed that a few ingredients seemed palatable - sugar, raisins, nuts, etc., but that most either taste bad on their own (salt, flour) or have no taste at all (niacin and all the other good-for-you vitamins). And then we discussed how all the ingredients God places in our lives are important and together, he works them for our good. This meant, for us seventeen to twenty-five year olds, even the not so pleasant things like family struggles back home, final exams, broken-down cars and break-ups with boyfriends. Oh and of course, the perpetually empty wallets!

Fast-forward twenty years - wow, has it been that long? I still believe, without shadow of doubt, that God uses everything he brings into our lives. But if I could share again today, I'd add two postscript thoughts.

One, God is at work in my life and yours - this we know. But I think his work is evident in so much more than just negative circumstances. We don't have to wait until we've got our backs up against the wall to be assured of his amazing presence. He is at work in our lives day in and day out, through the people he brings into our lives, the books we read, through his providence, through his Word and his Holy Spirit. He is constantly weaving together strands of mercy, hope and grace. I am confident that God works in every detail in my life for his glory.

For his glory. That's the second thought I'd add. HIS glory. HIS purpose. I'm afraid that for many years, I read that verse this way:

to THEM that love God, to THEM who are the called according to his purpose.

THEM = ME. I loved God. I was the "called." So his work was on MY behalf. So he could bring about his purpose in MY life.

Today, I'd have to change the emphasis, based on a better understanding of the context (here in the more familiar NIV):

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.

Emphasis on God. In fact, much of chapter 8, especially from verse 18 on, speaks of the glory that will be revealed in us, and the whole creation waiting anxiously for redemption. It's not about me. It's his story, not mine. His creation. His plan. His purpose. His glory.

All things. It means so much more to me now and I expect in years to come, this verse will continue to mean more to me.