Knowing What’s Good for Us

May 4, 2017

I was walking the 1.5 miles home from my doctor’s appointment this morning, along busy Treat Boulevard, when I came upon a goose and her four goslings. Mama apparently wanted to take the kids out for a walk—water nowhere in sight—and chose to parade down Treat Boulevard. Two lanes of traffic were blocked by motorists either enthralled or frustrated with the slow-motion chase I was on. I tried to herd the birds back onto the sidewalk, but Mama was getting mad at my interference. I even called 911 for traffic help, but the dispatcher said, “We don’t dispatch police officers to help geese.” A kind-hearted gentleman in an SUV figured out a way to herd the gaggle with his truck, and we finally got them safely to a side street. But darn it! I saw them heading in the wrong direction toward danger, and all I could say was “No, no! Follow me! Don’t go that way!” One of the goslings fell down a drainage grate! We—a nearby construction worker and I—managed to rescue the other three before they fell in. But that pitiful squeak five feet down was enough to tug at anybody’s heart. We worked the grate free, lifted it heavily, and the man jumped down in to retrieve the baby. Family reunited and safely ushered out of harm’s way.

Mama was not too happy that someone (me) got so close and was so insistent on changing her route. She sounded a little like me when, before knowing Jesus, I was wayward. Following my own path, fiercely independent and self-satisfied, and not following directions I now know God was giving for my good. Or like C. S. Lewis, who described himself in Surprised by Joy: “the most dejected, reluctant convert in all of England . . . drug into the kingdom kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape.” Sometimes we really do not know what is good for us.

Fundamental to our Christian faith is that God is good, and that he wants for us that which is also good. We say God is benevolent, having the desire to benefit us. The Scriptures are full of references to God’s basic good nature. My favorite (excerpts from Psalm 145):

8          The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

9          The Lord is good to all,
and his compassion is over all that he has made.
. . .

13         The Lord is faithful in all his words,
and gracious in all his deeds.

14         The Lord upholds all who are falling,
and raises up all who are bowed down.

15         The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.

16         You open your hand,
satisfying the desire of every living thing.

17         The Lord is just in all his ways,
and kind in all his doings.

I circled all the adjectives describing God’s character in this excerpt, and doing so, I am overwhelmed that this God is looking after me! And yet, I sometimes live with the illusion that it is I who is protecting my little charges, my interests, and my future. When I get mad at God’s interference, I am only revealing how little I know of the Big Picture, which is God’s to know and mine to trust.




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