God Works In All Things

A couple of weeks ago, our family went away for the long Labor Day weekend (College Guy was not able to attend). We rented a home near Galveston in La Porte. We played board games, ate tons of takeout from local restaurants, and explored the beach. Our youngest, Linus, beat everyone at Monopoly. Twice. It was an old home, built in the late 19th century in Galveston, before being relocated to its current location. For decades, it was a family lakehouse, but now the owner is widowed, and her kids and grandchildren are grown. She hopes to sell the house to a new family to make their own memories. As I walked around the house, I could see, hear, and feel its history and emotion. 

Contrast that sense of feeling and place I felt there to where we are today. I am writing this article in my office, behind a desk, staring into a computer monitor. This evening I led a Bible study in my office, behind a desk, staring into a computer monitor. Tomorrow I will participate in a training session from my office, behind a desk, staring into a computer monitor. Thursday and Friday are day-long continuing education events, which I will participate in from my office, behind a desk, staring into a computer monitor. Nearly every family or church activity for the last seven months has occured at home or in my office, behind a desk, staring into a computer monitor.

Tonight, on that video Bible study, we discussed the ministry of the prophets of the Bible. Moses, Jeremiah, Amos, even Jesus looked beyond current circumstances to give people a sense of direction. They never looked backward (ever heard of the “Back to Egypt” committee in your church? They usually show up when a bold new direction for the congregation is shared). The Israelites during the Exodus were unable to focus on their future, because the past, though oppressive, was familiar. They accused Moses of leading them into the wilderness to kill them with hunger or to be destroyed by Pharaoh’s army. Moses had to keep them focused on the Promised Land. Jeremiah bought a field outside of Jerusalem as an invading army surrounded the people. It was an investment in God’s future, which would not be realized in the prophet’s lifetime. 

The stay at the La Porte house was only a vacation, and it was soon necessary to return to normal life. Ha Ha. Normal. Remember normal? We are living in a moment none of us will forget. The world is so upside down. We want things to return to how they were seven months ago, before an invisible virus killed 200,000 Americans and nearly a million people worldwide. We need to escape, whether to the beach or into our memory. Weren’t things better in 2019 or 2016 or 1990 or 1970 or 1950 or 1930? In my mind, things were absolutely better in 1984. No question. Nostalgia is warm and comforting, but we cannot remain stuck in the past; the beach was great, but our lasting memories will be made in Sherman, not elsewhere. “We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called for his purpose” (Romans 8:28). The verse doesn’t say God causes all things; it says God works for good in all things. If we hold fast to those words, even in our days of weeping and mourning, we will be able to catch a glimpse into a promised future, like Moses and Jeremiah. In the midst of all our struggles, may we find peace and rest in the assurance of God working good in all things for all people.