Good and Glory
I was so mad at God for abandoning me. I was not interested in having a relationship with a Creator who had the ability to rescue me from the pit of darkness, but who chose to allow me to remain in abject despair. I refused to pray. I would not speak to him. He had forsaken me, so I would return in kind.
I was four years old.
For years and years I was sure that since God is God, and I am but clay, He needed no justification for abandoning me. If a master potter smashes a pot that he finds lacking, what is it to anyone else? I wrestled with my identity in Christ, being overcome by my circumstances, and allowing them to dictate my identity as God’s daughter – forgiven, freed, redeemed. I battled constantly with the narrative that God keeps tally of my rights and wrongs, my good moments and my bad moments, like a cosmic Santa Claus.
For years I was sure that there was a line and you needed to stay on a certain side of it to get to heaven. I tried finding satisfaction in so many empty wells. I was the good girl, terrified of stepping out of line, perfect to the point of disbelief. But inside, I was starving. Starving for love, peace, acceptance, compassion, safety, stability, loyalty, reassurance, kindness, generosity, provision.
And like an animal, I was willing to mangle myself as long as I could ensure my own survival. As if I could fight my way out of hell and climb high enough to ascend into heaven. What else could I do? God had abandoned me, and so I could either rot, or save myself. God did not find me valuable enough to waste the effort himself. If he did, why would he allow me to be subject to such crushing pain and agony? I must have lost his love and favor. I could not rely on him to take care of me. There would be no presents under the tree from him.
And then, when I was about 22 years old, Michael Gatlin who is one of the pastors at our church, the Vineyard in Duluth, told a story of a friend’s experience with deer eating his grapevines. The friend planted two grapevines. The deer came and decimated one. They ate it down near to the stump of the plant. The other plant, the deer left alone. It flourished and grew full and green. The next year, however, the vine that was not pruned by the deer produced no grapes, while the vine that had been razed to the ground by the deer feeding on it produced the most wonderfully sweet fruit.
Romans 8:27-28 says. “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 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.”
2 Corinthians 4:13-18 talks about how this leads to us giving witness to God’s provision and blessing in our lives and how in turn, this testimony of God’s grace in our own lives carries over to others and then glorifies God.
God works all things for our good and for his glory! The devil never wins. God’s plan is so grand, so full redemptive for me personally, that the totality of all of my suffering and pain pales at its sight.
Now, my reassurance is in the anticipation that comes from expecting God’s miracle. And from the peace that assures me that regardless of the pain and suffering I experience, regardless of how my life unfolds, I can be assured that it will result in good for me. I may taste the fruit tomorrow, or maybe in a month, or maybe a decade from now. Maybe not until the other side of heaven. But yet it comes.
For my good and his glory.