Accepting the Good That Comes

Monday, May 19, 2008

We didn't expect that Pete would pass the Bar this time. Our previous experience told us that we oughtn't get our hopes up. The statistics were all against us. Passing the California Bar Exam seemed less likely than winning the lottery.

A couple of weeks ago, my verse of the day put me into Ecclesiastes 5. I usually approach both Proverbs and Ecclesiastes as a series of true observations about life, so when I ran across this passage, I wasn't so intimidated as I was intrigued: "Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart."

Here I've been wrestling with myself to push away my desire for a better income for Pete, to resign myself to living as near poverty as possible with God providing, because of course He must - He promised He would. I mean, the lilies of the field are clothed and beautiful, aren't they? I have been telling myself that I can be content with "enough."

So what happens when we have more than enough?

Guilt sets in. For being materialistic, greedy, discontent with less. Even though I'm not those things, I feel that I must be doing something wrong.

The Ecclesiastes passage above really challenged my perspective. Sometimes, I think I am so extreme that I believe that the whole point of the Christian life is the suffering. I really hate the "prosperity doctrine" and the idea of a "vending machine, fairy godmother God" who gives me everything I want or need because I somehow deserve it for being spiritual and following Him. That's what blessing me means, right?

But praying and hoping about the Bar found me cornered. At every turn, I couldn't tell God with any authority that we needed or deserved Pete's passage. I had no bargaining power, not even withholding myself and my heart and my trust from Him. For maybe the second time in my life, I had to look at Him as He is, with His ways so far above mine that I couldn't figure them out or rewrite them into a plan that made perfect sense to me - and I had to take the risk that He wasn't going to betray me, even if Pete didn't pass.

And all of a sudden, he did. What do I do? Do I jump up and down and say God is good now? It's true - it was true before. Do I turn away and try to pretend I didn't notice that He gave this to us? Just so that He won't notice that I care...

Today, I am thinking based on that Ecclesiastes passage that it might actually be okay to accept it, to enjoy it, to live. I don't have to be ashamed for not being sure of Him.

For months, Pete has been reminding me that God Himself is our inheritance. We cannot count on having everything we think we ought to have - we cannot even define our need to Him. But we have Him. I have wondered if He is enough and hated myself for wanting more than Him, especially when I know better.

I really like the last part of the Ecclesiastes passage, the part that says "he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life because God keeps Him busy with the joy of his heart."

Where else does the joy of my heart come from unless from Him?

It's hard to admit that I'm still so far from where I want to be when it comes to truly wanting God as He is. Isn't it strange that He doesn't expect perfection before He provides - and gives? Isn't it amazing?


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