Chapter 3 Assigned Sunday, February 21st.
In “The Good and Beautiful God,” the author tells of a time when he took his young son to an amusement park where they went on a ride he thought might be fun, but he found the ride to be terrifying, and he held on to his son as hard as he could and prayed for the ride to end. He looked over and saw his son having a great time. His son got on the scary ride with him and enjoyed it because he trusted his father would keep him safe along the way. The God Jesus reveals is trustworthy and would never do anything to harm us. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and has our best intentions at heart.
The author, Dr. Smith, received a call once from a young man who heard him speak at a conference a few months before, and he called because he could not start his car out of fear he might die in a car crash and not have time to repent. The pastor at his church had always preached that you could lose Gods grace at any time and be sent to hell, but the God Dr. Smith talked about was always good and loving and trustworthy. The God the young man grew up with was not those things. Jesus uses the term “Abba” to refer to his Father during the most difficult days of his life, with “Abba” translated as “Dear Father” which means there was intimacy and obedience with God, “True, he was God, but he was also fully human. Incarnation (becoming human) implies limitation. Because he was fully human, Jesus experienced everything we do, which includes fear and doubt. But notice: even in the midst of doubt, in the moment of his deepest suffering, Jesus trusted in his heavenly Father.”
The author met a girl who grew up with a terrible father, and she couldn’t see God in the best light as a father. Because he is the God of creation, and his relationship with his son Jesus came before everything else, we derive our understanding of the situation from what Jesus has defined in the bible, Matthew 6:9-13. God is present with us, as heaven is referred to as a place that surrounds us. God is holy, he cannot sin or participate in evil. God is the King of all Kings and the King of Heaven. God provides, he provides for the needs of all creation. God forgives our trespasses, he pardons our mistakes. God protects us, he is present and powerful because he longs to rescue us from evil. These attributes show the meaning of God and fatherhood, and how we are supposed to reflect them as humanity. The author realizes he often struggles to be everything to his children, but his family still loves him whole-heartedly despite his imperfections.
“We all must ask, what is my “cup”? What aspect of your life makes it difficult for you to trust God? Were you hurt by a divorce? Have you suffered loss? Are you unable to find a life partner and struggling with prospects of singleness? Have you experienced the death of a loved one? The death of a dream? The loss of a business? The loss of some physical capacity?” A “cup” is anything we struggle with. Certainly there are many good and bad things in our world, and we don’t force ourselves to say all is well, but we trust in a heavenly Father who strengthens us and looks out for us.
The Soul Training exercise for the chapter focuses on prayer and blessings. Because we are often too distracted by our problems, it asks us to come up with a daily list of our blessings, which should help us shift focus from the bad things to only good things.
Counting my blessings:
My family, my house, my vehicle, God’s presence, my pets, my electronics, my part-time job which gives me money to support myself, my college group, my church group, ice cream, movies and television, my camera, a beautiful sunset, the languages I speak, the skills I have learned, the places I have been to, my daily meals, my daily shower, a good nights sleep. I lost a friendship, and I count her as a blessing even if the road was bumpy. Once the semester wraps up, I’ll see if I can get my friend back, but for that we’ll need kindness and grace, which we do not have right now.
When you care for someone, you can’t help but worry, and you can’t stay mad for very long. People are more important than that. Negative emotions are unhealthy.
As Christians, we have to trust God to see us through our struggles, so that we know we are not left on our own. I begged him to give me some immediate answer. I was left with thoughts and emotions going through my head which over time made me emotionally upset and I had to process that emotion otherwise I would continue to be emotionally upset and that would keep me from living my life.
I need people, and love, and grace. I give a lot of grace to imperfect people, because I struggle everyday, and my original solution was being unemotional about it, but that does not work for me anymore. Instead of focusing on some complicated idea, I take.life one coffee date, one school assignment, one adventure at a time, and I get through it.
And if I can’t save the situation, remember that people will always make time for the things that are important to them, and two people can also care for each other and have goals and dreams that set them apart.
A friend of mine once said, “Pray about it as much as you think about it.” The best we can do sometimes is pray for people, and pray for ourselves, even if we feel it will never be the same again, say prayer and let God handle the fight for us. He touches hearts every day.
I have had a rough semester because of my mistakes. I thought about it, and if I pass my classes, it will get me off academic probation and allow me to keep the financial aid I have relied on the past few years. I will be able to go on the Infusion trip with my college group, take a course over the summer, go on a missions trip to Kentucky with my church, and return to classes in the fall.
And if I can’t save the situation because of X, Y, and Z… I will still have my memories. Yes, the memories I have made over these 22 years are another blessing.
– James –