“And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
“In one thousand trials it is not five hundred of them that work for the believer’s good, but nine hundred and ninety-nine of them, and one beside.”
How wide is this assertion of the Apostle Paul! He does not say, “We know that some things,” or “most things,” or “joyous things,” but “ALL things.” From the minutest to the most momentous; from the humblest event in daily providence to the great crisis hours in grace. . . all things “work together.” It is a beautiful blending. Many different colors, in themselves raw and unsightly, are required in order to weave the harmonious pattern. Many separate tones and notes of music, even discords and dissonances, are required to make up the harmonious anthem. (Streams in the Desert)
Following three weeks away from home, it was especially satisfying to be surrounded by family for an afternoon at our daughter’s home and pool. The water was garden variety H2O with the correct Ph balance, but to me it felt more like a healing spring—washing away layers of fatigue built-up over the past few months. During a brief break in the action, I surveyed the family scene and was struck by this personal application of Romans 8:28. I am not sure there is such a thing as “normal” family, but if there is, my place in ours is, at the very least, complicated. My wife and I each once sang our own version of the blues that morphed into a joyful harmony when God brought us together. That granted admission into a family in which I inherited two step-daughters, two step-sons-in-law, and one step-grandson. Time and love erased the prefix; I emerged as Papa to them all.
On this afternoon in the sun, to my left swam a namesake grandson and oldest grand daughter, while the eldest grandchild held center court from a chaise lounge adjacent to the hot tub. In front of me swam grand daughters in stereo—one stared at me behind the poly carbonate goggles we purchased earlier for her from the Five Below store; the other moved in pulsating circles around me like a frog. She is special to me in that she and I share the same designation—“adopted.” Adult “children” formed the backdrop for this aquatic American Gothic snapshot, and the panorama was—in a word—satisfying.
Where we are and who we are is the accumulating effect of a divinely orchestrated ebb and flow. Although convergence awaits eternity, at any given moment in time we are a complex masterpiece forged on the providential anvil of disappointment, bewilderment, mercy, and redemption. Recognize your past as one crammed full of spiritual markers that outline your path of discipleship, and you will face forward resolutely to embrace what awaits with grit and determination. Regardless of all sensation to the contrary, God is weaving these moments of pain or ecstasy into a larger tapestry of grace.