“And we know that in all things
God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28 NIV
It is an amazing day in the garden! I am feeling confident. The arrows of sin cannot touch me because I know that all things will work for my good. The flowers have never been more beautiful. I am prepared today to cut a basket full of these gorgeous blooms and place them in a treasured antique vase on my kitchen table. Life is good!
In my happy mood I call out to the Master Gardner and ask him to walk with me along the pathways of my heart’s garden. I begin the conversation by saying, “Thank you Lord for your promise to me that in life all I set my hand to will work for my good. I’m so glad you are on my side. Being a Christian sure does have special privileges!”
Then HE speaks. Jesus begins to teach me, and for a moment I feel like we are sitting on a hillside near the
Mount of Olives.
His words are clear, gentle, loving, and kind. “Paula, I believe you have a bit
of a misunderstanding here. I did not say all things in your life will work out
good. However, I did say in all things, good or bad, I will work in your behalf so that something will
happen for your good. It is more about changing who you are, into who you will become as a result of the
circumstance in your life. Make no mistake my dear child; there will be plenty
of trials. Bad things will happen to all mankind. This is a direct result of
living in this sinful world. Remember, I have called you and you have responded
to my call. It is because you belong to me that I will work in your behalf. But you must not forget that this will be done according to my purpose
for you and not your purpose for yourself. This will require that you
simply trust me with all that concerns you.”
Then Jesus takes a pocket knife out of his robe pocket and begins to cut flowers, one stem at a time. He places each freshly cut flower in my basket. Each flower is uniquely different. With the cut of each variety Jesus teaches me his amazing truth.
Without sin –
you will never know the fragrance of the French lilac of my forgiveness.
Without failure –
you will never understand the hot pink mandevilla of my mercy.
Without crisis –
you will never experience the white lily of my peace.
Without sickness –
you will never experience the fragrant herbs of my healing.
Without unfaithfulness –
you will never experience the foxglove of my faithfulness.
Without imperfection –
you will never know the gardenia of my grace.
Without despair –
you will never know the hellebore of hope.
Without unhappiness –
you will never know the jasmine of my joy.
Without fear –
you will never know the tulip of trust.
Without need –
you will never know the vibrant poppy of my provision.
Without blindness –
you will never know the freesia of faith.
Without stress –
you will never know the velvet rose of my rest.
Without disaster –
you will never know my restoration of order.
Without pain and suffering –
you will never know the salvia of my sufficiency.
Without sorrow –
you will never know the purple clematis of my comfort.
Without rejection –
you will never know the lavender of my everlasting love.
Without bondage –
you will never know the fabulous green ferns of my freedom.
Without brokenness –
you will never know the wisteria of my wholeness.
Without death –
you would never experience eternal joy.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV
Here in the garden today I see in a fresh and new way that living in this fallen world is disastrous if I do not look beyond my circumstance and into the face and heart of Jesus Christ. Without him none of us will ever find meaning in life, no matter what we do, what we achieve, who we know, what we have, what we have experienced, or what we have learned. Without Jesus we will come up short. Our life basket will remain empty, void of anything that is beautiful. Void of the gifts that only Jesus can give. BUT GOD…If we have put our faith in him alone, he has promised to help those who love him. Those he has called to live according to his purposes, not ours. When we live in his love we can learn how to give thanks in all things. Not for all things, but in the midst of all things. No matter how hard our circumstance may be we can always give thanks for the fact that he is using our trial to make us into someone beautiful. He is shaping us into his image and as a result we become more like him. Playing our trials forward is scary, but in the midst of every trial God is always there to provide the strength we need to trust him without experiencing fear. Our strength comes the very moment we need it and never before.
I love the words “but God”, because those two words are full of love and hope. Those words are based on the sovereignty of God. Those words are full of his compassion and mercy for mankind. Those words are bathed in the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who wants to be our Lord and Savior. Life without Jesus Christ is both meaningless and void of hope. “But God” made a way where there was no way.
Yes, life is hard and we often long to be free of this world and its problems. We who know him long for his return and we often wonder why it is that he is staying away so long. The answer is clear. Because of his great love for his children he waits. He desires to gather more sons and daughters into his heavenly home. It is not his will that any should perish. So he is compassionate so – he calls. He is merciful so – he waits. Never do we see his mercy more evident than in the knowledge that he is waiting to gather more of his children into his courts. Even though we long for his return, He waits and we wait with him.
As Jesus pointed out to me this morning, I am NOT forgotten. As I wait, God pours out his goodness in my life every day. This side of heaven he is watching over all that concerns me. His good gifts are free and are designed to make me a better person. In all things he desires to work for the higher good in my life. Yes, I do know that all things work together for my good.
Today the Master Gardener and I gathered a basket full of gorgeous flowers that remind me of his precious gifts. As I leave the garden, I have plans to arrange this extra special assortment of flowers in a beautiful arrangement to be displayed in full view on my kitchen table. I anticipate that this arrangement will be breathtaking! Each and every time I pass by my beautiful flowers I will remember, my Lord is in all things, always looking for ways to bring about the highest good that will accomplish his eternal purposes in my life. This knowledge will make all my challenges bearable as I wait this side of heaven for Jesus to gather more of his children into his family. There is much rejoicing in heaven every time a child comes home. There is also joy in my heart this day as I reflect on the love my Lord has for me and for all those who know him. I also rejoice with those in heaven when a new soul is redeemed!
- Have you ever misunderstood today’s verse of scripture?
- Do you trust God to take all of the awful circumstances in your life and work through those circumstances to bring about his good in your life?
- Have you learned the joy found in the message of “but God”…?
- Do you love the fact that as a result of every sinful circumstance God has an amazing antidote that is wrapped in his love?
My Father, in heaven, holy is your name,
Father, I pray that your kingdom will come, and that your will is being done on earth as it is in heaven. Give me today my daily bread. Forgive me my debts, and help me to forgive my debtors. Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from the evil one. Help me to know that his tactics are deceit, discouragement, depression, and despair, just to name a few. Forgive me when I doubt your goodness. Thank you for your amazing antidotes for all my trials. I praise you for your great love. Thank you that you are always at work in my life providing all that I need physically, mentally, and spiritually. I want to trust you completely because I know you love me. I also trust you because yours is the kingdom and glory forever.