I have often flipped back and forth between the answer to this question: If God's main goal is His glory - since anything else would be idolatry or sin on His part, not an option - then how can He work things out for MY good? How is MY good tied up in HIS glory?
One way (an erroneous one) that I have tried to answer this in the past was to say: It's only the selfish American mindset that makes me think I have any stake in what God is doing in the world. The more I think things have to work out for me, the more frustrated I am when they do not. So I need to get over myself and just face that God does what God wants to do. Yes, He is loving. Yes, He is good. But He is not concerned with just how things affect me. So I don't need to be either. That longing I have for more intimacy and more knowledge of God is just an over-romanticized and western egocentric concept that my experiences don't always back-up.
Well, many a denomination has left the reservation because people started believing and obeying their feelings and experiences over what God's word says. The funny thing about my experiences is I tend to think of them negatively, just because I'm overcompensating for my disdain for the blab it and grab it sort of religiosity. I don't want to be one of those, but I don't want to swing the pendulum too far in the other direction either, as though God doesn't consider me at all. Let's get back to the source.
What does the BIBLE say?
- "For I know the plans I have for YOU" - Jeremiah 29:11
- "God works all things together for the good of those who love Him" - Romans 8:28
- "He will give you the desires of YOUR heart" - Psalm 37:4
- "Come to me, YOU who thirst" - Isaiah 55:1
- "I have loved YOU with an everlasting love" - Jeremiah 31:3
- "He was pierced for OUR transgressions, crushed for OUR sins. The punishment that brought US peace was upon Him, and by His wounds WE are healed." Isaiah 53:5
It all kind of made sense when I got back to this one, simple scripture. The 23rd Psalm reads, "He guides me in paths of righteousness for His Name's sake."
My good is directly linked to God's glory, because it has to do with His nature as a Father, Provider, Protector, Redeemer. If He does not guide me down the best path for my life and relationship with Him, then it is His name that fails. He has not shown Himself to be a good Father, or any of the other descriptions worthy of our All-Powerful, Loving God.
Consider this: "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though
you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more
will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"
It reminds me of waiting for Thanksgiving dinner to get ready. It seems like every year, no matter what time things get started, nothing's ready to eat until about 2:30 - a miserable joke of a lunch-time. Old women in the kitchen chase you with wooden spoons, lest you should manage to get a finger into the questionable gelatinous filling of the pecan pie - not to taste it, just to ask, "What manner of creature is this?"
The bread is always the last thing in the oven. After the pies, casseroles, and turkey have been pulled. Everyone knows that as soon as the rolls are done, we can pray and eat. Stomachs begin to rumble in anticipation and someone hollers out, " 'Bout how long till the bread's done?"
That's a pretty good analogy to my prayer life right now. I'm praying for bread, and everything else is ready to go. All we're waiting on is the bun in the oven. It hasn't even been put in to bake yet. I know God is good. I know He's not going to give me a stone. He may have someone bring bread to us - e.g. adoption. Or He may let us make some of the homemade variety. Either way, I can trust that He knows what's best, and when it's best. And it'll be so satisfying as we sit at the table and count our many blessings.
What kind of bread are your waiting for? Keep waiting for it. Don't crank the oven up, which is an old trick that doesn't work - because you'll end up burning the bottoms of the rolls, or scorching the outside of the bread, while the inside doesn't have time to fully cook. In other words, you'll get an answer that came by YOUR hands, not God's. This is as much a reminder to myself as it is an encouragement for you, one of my three faithful readers. God does care about how your specific needs affect YOU, as much as how it affects His plan and glory. And He's in the kitchen right now. Just trust.
Happy Hallowingmas, you big turkey!