A week ago Sunday, we adopted a 17 week old, 24 lb. puppy from a Dog Rescue group. We named the dog Indiana. One day later, my new prescription glasses came in the mail. This past Sunday morning I preached on giving thanks in all circumstances and in the evening was blessed by a lesson on contentment in the midst of this fallen world at the meeting of Living Stones youth group. One more thing to factor in: I actually believe that whatever our sovereign and loving God ordains is right.
These seemingly unrelated truths and factoids all fit together, somehow I am reminded, for my good and His glory. Read on, if you want to, and I will try to explain…
A little history is in order: I had to order the new glasses because about a month ago I apparently had set my ‘thinking cap’ down a far distance from my brain and was the direct cause of my other glasses irreparably ending up in two distinct pieces (that is a story for another time, however).
So, for one wonderful week I was appreciating clear vision with no ocular obstruction. And then Monday evening occurred. I was enjoying time with my family in the living room, and I found myself at one point howling to the song that my daughter Anna was playing on the ukulele (‘dog-like howling’ that is – which is not quite a direct reference to my singing voice). As puppies are prone to do, Indie the dog jumped on my lap demonstrating a strong desire to howl a harmony part. She isn’t allowed on the couch (I still enjoy my couch privileges, however). So I was in the act of playfully ‘alpha doggin’ her onto the doggie bed on the floor in the living room when my brand new, crystal clear, perfect-fit prescription glasses ended up in between her upper and lower set of puppy teeth (think: steel sewing needles fixed between a work bench vice). The glasses were only in the canine jaws of chaos for maybe one second – not longer than two to be sure. The result? Three distinct scratches lovingly etched directly in front of my left field of vision.
Oh how I would love to report at this point that I playfully chided the dog, returned to my seat on the couch and continued the Rockwellian picture of fellowship in a pastor’s home singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to one another, with thankfulness in our hearts to God. I would have to bend the truth beyond the breaking point if I told you that. My real response? I got angry. At who (or is it whom?) or what I couldn’t tell. I walked (er, uh, stomped) to the kitchen. I closed some cabinet doors with more force than those little hinges actually require. I huffed, I puffed, and I took myself upstairs to my office.
God brought the truth of Psalm 139:16 to my attention – “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” God’s plan for my sanctification in that moment included a split second encounter between my brand new glasses and our brand new puppy as well as my toddler-like reaction (with apologies to toddlers). He needed to remind me once again that whether I label the emotion ‘slightly frustrated’ or ‘searing firestorm’ the source of my heart’s hope was being exposed for me to see.
In the stillness of that moment I wondered…
Where was my “give thanks in all circumstances” deportment?
What happened to “I have learned whatever situation I am to be content” demeanor?
Is it “well with my soul” or not?
I believe it is – just got clouded over for a bit. I believe God was showing me more of my heart and the subtle (and not so subtle) ways that I look to certain things and circumstances to give me peace and comfort. My heart’s reaction revealed where my heart was resting. And God used that revealing to cause me to repent of my anger, ingratitude and discontentment and to rejoice anew in the Savior who loved me and gave Himself for me. Hallelujah! What a Savior!
He graciously changed my perspective from the things of this world that cannot supply life, to the One who is Life and freely gives grace to all who call upon His name by faith.
That is just basic Christian life lived out in the mundane, isn’t it? All the things that occur: good things, bad things, small and big things, temporary or long term – they are all being used by God to loosen the grip this world has on us and enlighten our minds to see the grasp of grace He has on us who believe.
We believe that we were in fact designed to honor God and give Him thanks, so we can expect Him to use the events in our lives and our response to those events to enable us to live out that divine design as we live by faith.
This week as we gather to give thanks to Him from whom all blessings flow I hope your list includes the good, the bad and the ugly because He is using all of it for our good and His glory.