“God is good …All the time!
And all the time …God is Good!”
Ah, the call and response of a faithful people. We like knowing how to respond. But do we believe it? Is God really good all the time? for the parent who’s just lost a child? for the man who’s just received a dire diagnosis? for the teen who is bullied, the wife who is abused? what of the family without a home? the children who live in fear? The list goes on and on.
Is God really all that good? Certainly a good God would have none of this.
Recently, I attended a funeral service for my friend Bill. He had been a good husband, good father, good son, good uncle, good friend, good businessman, and, by all accounts, a good Christian. His family suffered with him through nine months of brain cancer before they lost him. Is God still good?
What is good? According to me, it’s an outcome; it’s a judgment; it’s the feeling I have when everything goes my way. On those days I chime right in: God is good all the time and all the time God is good. But Bill and his family and friends remind me that that’s not the good that God is.
God is love; that’s way more than good. God made this substitution, so we can know that:
- God is patient.
- God is kind.
- God does not envy, does not boast, is not proud.
- God is not rude or self-seeking.
- God is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs.
- God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
This God I can actually see in those circumstances of sorrow and hurt and pain and loss. There may be no good in any of those, but there is God. God is so much better than good.
More than this, love is not just what God is but what God does.
- God always protects.
- God always trusts.
- God always hopes.
- God always perseveres.
Since Love does that, so can we, if we believe in love. God is there, no matter the circumstance, providing what we need to respond in love to the one who is in need. When we offer protection and trust, and when we hold onto hope that perseveres, we are in love. Love never fails.
God is so much better than good. God does good, in and through us, when we let God.
At Bill’s memorial service, a man came to the pulpit to share memories of their longtime friendship. “People come into our lives for one of four reasons,” the man began. “To add, subtract, multiply or divide. Bill was an add-er.”
Oh my yes. Bill added so much; and somehow, there in the saddest of circumstances, it seemed that what Bill added, God was multiplying. Love is like that.
That moment when you’re
r e a c h i n g
than you’ve ever reached before.
Just a little. bit. more.
S T R E T C H I N G
closer than you’ve ever been before.
Your thighs are burning
oh, it h u r t s,
but that’s how you get there.
until it flattens on the floor.
That moment when you’re
. S T U C K .
Can’t go further.
Can’t get out.
Can’t get up.
One foot gone right,
the other so far left,
past pulling back, and well beyond shouting distance.
Here in the middle it’s
…aaaagonizing… and (embarrassing)
Must. choose. now.
rip and crumple,
turn and topple,
… S l i i i p p p i n g…
Lift and pray.
Why do we wait?
Love wants to answer.
But true love waits
to be asked.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
~ 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
Everybody does it. Taking a break is part of life. Perhaps part of the human condition.
- Baseball takes the all star break
- Football takes, um, halftime
- Basketball coaches take time outs
- Hockey, well, I think there is time off after the Stanley Cup
- Kids and their teachers take the summers off
- Employees get weekends
- Families take vacations
Time away is rest, relief, recovery. But getting started again, now that’s the hard part. Because time off changes you. Especially when the break is final.
On June 11th I said goodbye to Rosy, my sweet golden companion of 14 years. Exactly 14 years. June 11th was her birthday. We worked day and night to get her to that day. Tried everything we knew to keep her going. Then, on June 11th, 2013, she was perfect. All she came to earth for was completed. Now she is new, but she is not here.
Every now and then someone comes into your life that changes you. It may be a dog. Rosy was that dog. The question is, How do I begin again?
I’ve read an expression that helps.
Don’t be sorry they’re gone. Be thankful they lived.
Today, I begin again in light of that thanks. Rosy, you impossible, wonderful, miraculous soul, you were one of God’s best ideas and my dear, dear friend. The “clearance puppy” we didn’t return. The one with the spunk, unfazed by Ranger, the gigantic husky who was your adopted brother, and tolerant of Silver, the new brother who would become your constant companion. You never knew you were “handicapped” because we never told you. You just adapted your way through life, literally taking it all in stride, wagging and wobbling on the way.
Thank you for all you were to us. I am glad to picture you now, running happily in heavenly fields. Perhaps chasing (and retrieving) the ball that on earth you could never chase. An eternal game of catch. Playing with all the other heavenly souls. If I had any doubt about where I would find you, your brother Silver is making me believe. He is here on his bed, running and wagging and dog-mumbling (perhaps speaking in heavenly tongues?) in his sleep. He is obviously very glad to see someone. I bet it is you. Because it would be just like you, knowing he misses you, to come to him. Comforting others is how you lived and how you loved. A love like that never ends.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. ~ 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
Farewell, dear Rosy. You lived well. You loved perfectly. And now I give you back to Love.