By all outside appearances I should know a whole lot about God. I have a few degrees, work in full time ministry, and teach about this God all the time. But, through all of the books and classes and sermons and conferences, I’ve come to the conclusion that my knowledge of His goodness and faithfulness is…well…less than adequate.
Case in point: I was dropping my daughter off at school this morning. She’s 4…and she’s all girl. I let her read one of her new books in the car on the way, and when we pulled into the parking lot, she kindly asked if she could bring her book into class. I said, “No honey. You will lose it and be sad when you can’t read it tonight.”
She responded, “Ahhhhhhhggggrrrbhwahhhwahhh…bwah…bwah…grrrr,” and kicked her feet into my seat to punctuate her point.
And so I did the natural thing, and tried to have a deep theological conversation with a toddler in the midst of a tantrum. (Hey…it might work this time)
I said, “Sweety, you think that I am trying to take fun away from you. But I’m not. I’m trying to make sure that you have the most fun possible in life. And it’s no fun to lose a new book. I’m not an enemy to your joy. I’m on your side. You just have to trust me.”
She threw her sippy cup at the dash board…but I think she understood.
When I got back in the car after dropping her off, I said to myself, “That’s me…” I do this all the time, and though my tantrums may be silent, they are just as rebellious. I forget all the time that God is not the enemy of my joy. He’s for me. Through everything that happens to me he’s fighting for my joy.
My father-in-law passed away from pancreatic cancer 9 months before I married his daughter. He brother walked her down the aisle. One of our wedding presents was a sizable chunk of student loans her mother simply couldn’t pay. At first, I thought it was no big deal. We’ll get some good jobs and pay them off in no time.
But after a year or two those 4 zero’s began to sting a bit. One child came, along with childcare costs, diapers, mortgage, HOA. Then another child. Medical bills, insurance, more diapers. We also learned that filing taxes as a minster shouldn’t really be done by an amateur like me. And it certainly shouldn’t be done again while expecting better results.
After time, I began to hate those 4 zero’s. They were a weight on my shoulders that I couldn’t do anything about. Even though I was as calm as a hindu cow on the outside, on the inside I was screaming and throwing sippy cups at heaven’s gates.
And then one day, a certain woman I share a house and bed with sat me down and said, “You know, Chase, God could have taken this debt away. But he didn’t.”
And it hit me. I was acting like a 4 year old. My face was turning red and snot was running down my face…and all the while my sovereign God was working for my joy…not against it.
“He is in heaven and he does all that he pleases”, the Psalms say. Rick didn’t have to die. We didn’t have to inherit those loans. But God is in control and we did. So, whether I believe it or not, that debt is actually good for me.
Looking back on the past 6 years, I am just now seeing the benefits. I appreciate the small things in life. Without cable and internet, I got to be present during the first years of my daughters’ lives. I got to visibly, physically, without a shadow of a doubt see God provide financially for us time and time again. And the trust in God we gained from that gave us the courage to step out and go through the adoption process. When we bring our little one home from Ethiopia in a few months, I’ll get down on my knees and thank God for those 4 zero’s. Without them, who knows where our family would be.
And I learned to make my own beer. Which I think is pretty cool.
Moral of the story. Christians, when it comes to minor inconveniences, which is what most things are, QUIT WHINING! Suck it up…and praise God.
He’s sovereign and in control. Things could be otherwise, but they’re not. He’s not trying to steal your joy…he’s trying to guarantee it, sustain it, and increase it.
So the next time Uncle Sam takes a chunk of your change, your car breaks down, or your boss gives you a piece of his mind…just remember “God works all things for the good of those who love him”.