Hey, Calvary Fremont –
It begins with the nurse asking you to remove your clothing to put on a robe that leaves you exposed all the way down your back (and even further). Yet please know, this is for your good. And then you are asked to lie down flat on a gurney that is cold and clammy on your backside. And again, this is for your good. And then you are wheeled into a room with bright lights where masked and gowned men and women stick you with needles, cut you with knives, cause your blood to flow, probe you with instruments, and push hooks through your skin. And you lay there the whole time without screaming and cussing because you are convinced that this is for your good. The Doctor said so. And you trust the Doctor. Why would you scream at someone you trust? Well, you wouldn’t – yet how is it that some Christians won’t lay still and allow God to do His glorious work? Why do they thrash around and yell at God? Why do they push away God’s needle and knife, probe, and hook? Why are some people better patients than they are Christians?
One reason some make better patients than they do Christians is because they are quite clear in their minds about what the Doctor wants to do, why the Doctor wants to do it, and how the Doctor is going to do it. Many Christians have no clear idea about what God wants to do, why He wants to do this, or how He is going to do this. Lack of clarity leads to a lack of trust. And a lack of trust leads to an increase in resistance!
If I was on the street and a stranger came up and asked me to remove my clothes and lay down on a gurney so he could wheel me away where others would stick me with needles and cut me with knives, probe me with instruments and push hooks through my skin – I would have no idea as to who they were, no clarity as to what they were wanting to do, and therefore I would have a complete lack of trust and a maximum amount of resistance!
Doctors perform their work at a specific place, in a particular room, wearing specialized uniforms – complete with name tags. We believe that the Doctors are for us. And we know that God is for us, too, yet the God who is for us is incognito in every place. He doesn’t wear a uniform and has no name tag. Our encounter with God is more like encountering a stranger on the street than meeting a doctor in his scrubs. Therefore, we resist the God who is for us. Why are some people better patients than Christians? Because they trust the Doctor more than they trust God. Yet why should you trust a God who is incognito? Paul tells us why –
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren…” Romans 8:28-29
How many things is God at work in? All things! Is God just at work in the good things? No – in all things. Is God at work only in the things that make sense to us? No – in all things! – even in the things that make no sense to us. And we don’t have to wonder what God is doing. He is making all things work together for good. Here’s the question – what’s the good? This is answered in v29. The good is that we are conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. So, get this – all things – good, bad, indifferent – all things work together to shape and fashion your character and life to be mini-reproduction of Jesus Christ! That is absolutely awesome. You are predestined to this. You are on a collision course with glory.
When strange things come into your life – God will use these things to conform you to the image of His Son. God uses even sad and grievous things to make you more like His Son. Even trouble, trial, tribulation, batterings, bruisings, bewilderment, and befuddlement – God uses all to transform your character into that of Christ’s. The death of a child can be used to form Christ in you. The drawn-out illness of a loved one can be used to transform your character to be more like Christ’s. A painful divorce can be used to shape your soul into the image of Jesus Christ. Paul doesn’t say that all good things work together for you, but all things work together for good – to make you more like Jesus. OK – it that’s so, why aren’t you more like Jesus?
It goes back to the Doctor in her scrubs and the stranger on the street. It takes faith to see God in the strange, hurtful, confusing things of life. Yet God says He is working in and through all things. In the bruising and the battering, in the trial, trouble, and tribulation – lift your hands, your heart to heaven, and say, “Father, I trust You even in this. You said You are working good in all things and You will work good in this. I don’t see it, but I walk by faith and not by sight. I don’t feel it, yet faith can sustain me in places where my emotions can’t. I bow my heart to You.” Somebody reading this needs to do this right now. This is how Jesus embraced the cross. For all time, the cross stands as the symbol of the reality that God makes all things work together for good.
Trust God as you would a dependable Doctor. Even as you fully surrender to the needle and knife of the Doctor, yield to the purpose, plan, and process of God. Be as good a Christian as you are a patient.
Be blessed and stay healthy and follow Jesus – Pastor Tim