Today I Saw God
"God is goodAll the time!
And all the timeGod is good!"
Ah, the call and response of a faithful people. We like knowing how to respond. But do we believe it?Is God really good all the time? For the parent who's just lost a child? For the man who's just received a dire diagnosis? For the teen who is bullied, the wife who is abused? What of the family without a home? The children who live in fear? The list goes on and on.
Is God really all that good? Certainly a good God would have none of this.
Recently, I attended a funeral service for my friend Bill. He had beena good husband, good father, good son, good uncle, good friend, good businessman and, by all accounts, a good Christian. His family suffered with him through nine months of brain cancer before they lost him. Is God still good?
What is good? According to me, it's an outcome; it's a judgment; it's the feeling I have when everything goes my way. On those days I chime right in:"God is good all the time and all the time God is good."But Bill and his family and friends remind me that that's not the good that God is.
God is love; that's way more than good. God made this substitution, so we can know that:
- God is patient.
- God is kind.
- God does not envy, does not boast, is not proud.
- God is not rude or self-seeking.
- God is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs.
- God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
This God I can actually see in those circumstances of sorrow and hurt and pain and loss. There may be no good in any of those, but there is God. God is so much better than good.
More than this, love is not just what God is but what God does.
- God always protects.
- God always trusts.
- God always hopes.
- God always perseveres.
Since love does that, so can we, if we believe in love. God is there, no matter the circumstance, providing what we need to respond in love to the one who is in need.When we offer protection and trust, and when we hold on to hope that perseveres, we are in love.Love never fails.
God is so much better than good. God does good, in and through us, when we let God.
At Bill's memorial service, a man came to the pulpit to share memories of their longtime friendship. "People come into our lives for one of four reasons," the man began, "to add, subtract, multiply or divide. Bill was an add-er."
Oh my yes. Bill added so much; and somehow, there in the saddest of circumstances, it seemed that what Bill added, God was multiplying. Love is like that.
This post originally appeared on "The Kinesthetic Christian."
When our daughters were growing up, my husband often traveled out of town for work. Over the years, the girls and their daddy developed a ritual for saying their farewells, which they still observe today as the girls leave for college each semester or when it is time to say goodbye after a visit.
Each time they part, Steve will kiss the palm of each of his daughters' hands, and the girls will then hold their palm to their face for a moment while they say out loud:
"Daddy loves me."
Then it is their turn to remind their daddy of their love for him. They kiss their daddy's much bigger palm, and he holds his palm to his face and repeats the reassuring promise.
"Alex loves me."
"Brookie loves me."
After wrapping them tightly in his arms for a final hug, Steve looks them in the eye and reminds them of his expectations for them. Each time, he says these words:
"Be good, be strong, be brave!"
You can imagine how adorable this ritual was when they were tiny and he had to pick them up for the goodbye hug. For me, it may be even more meaningful to watch now that they are 21 and 23-years-old. As independent young women, they still choose to go out into the world under the covering of their daddy's blessing and love. He names them beloved and reminds them who they are and to whom they belong. They are good. They are strong. They are brave. His blessing and exhortation reminds them that he expects them to remember who they are and behave accordingly.
As we were discussing this ritual the other night, Steve and I talked about the messages we received from our fathers, who are both now in heaven. We discovered we both still hear their voices in our heads sometimes. While my relationship with my father was complicated by his struggle with alcoholism, he instilled in me a strong belief in my ability to tackle any challenge and achieve my goals. From the time I was born, he delighted in me and told me I was smart and strong. According to him, there was nothing in this world I couldn't be or do. Although he couldn't defeat the demons that kept him trapped in self-destruction, I never doubted his belief in me. He and my mom named me well, perhaps the greatest gift we parents have to offer our children.
Throughout scripture, we are offered a similar blessing and promise from our Abba Father who names us beloved. Repeatedly, in both the Old and New Testaments, God reminds us who we are and to whom we belong. In a variety of phrasing and in many different contexts, God tells his people to take heart:
"Be brave. Be strong. Do not fear, for I will be with you."
God doesn't promise life won't be hard. He doesn't promise we won't have trouble and heartache. He does, however, promise over and over and over again that he will never leave us. He will go before us, and he will come behind us. We can be brave because we know our mighty God has our back in every situation.
Because of God's passion for us, we are named beloved. We are good. We are strong. We are brave.
When we forget, we must remind one another until we remember who we are. Let's choose to show up for each other and name each other well.
Hey friend, in case someone hasn't told you in a while, let me remind you of your name today. You are good. You are strong. You are brave. And best of all, you are God's beloved.
Originally published on www.kellyiveyjohnson.com.