30. That number looks ridiculous to me! I don’t feel old, but doing anything for 30 years seems like a long time, and I have been living that long. So today, on this milestone birthday, I want to look back through the lens of God’s goodness in my life. But first, the frame:
For My Good
You’re in control / You are seated on Your throne / And when the nations rage / You are not overcome / You reign in perfect peace / You reign in perfect peace / You are my Guide / You are faithful to the end / And when my heart is frail / You don’t give up on me / You won’t deny Yourself / You won’t deny Yourself // Nothing could ever come my way that You have not ordained / You turn it all around for good / When the mountains melt away my Hope remains the same / You turn it all around for good / For my good // You are my God / You supply my every need / There is no lovely thing / That You withhold from me / You don’t withhold Yourself / You don’t withhold Yourself / You are my Portion / Reward and Victory / You are my Shepherd / My sure Provider / I trade my burdens / My disappointments / For all Your glory / Your resurrection / Never changing always the same / Yesterday today forever / You’re my Good / You’re my Good
When I first heard this song, I thought about all the things that have come my way over the last several years, and I was moved to tears – not because those things were/are sad, but because I know, in the deepest part of my heart and soul that God ordained it all and that it is for my good. This is so hard to wrap my mind around, and it moves me to tears because I serve a God who I cannot comprehend. I am in awe of how he works. I trust him by faith.
What He Has Ordained
While I won’t catalog everything that has happened to me over the last 30 years, I do want to acknowledge some of the things that I can now see were for my good. These things that happened, these people specifically, are part of God’s story of goodness in my life.
- My Great Aunt Wilma – My mom’s mom died before I was born so I never knew her. My grandad, Papa, never remarried but he has a sister Aunt Wilma, and she took that place of a grandmother in my life. In fact, most people think she is my grandmother. Everyone who knows me knows that this woman is my favorite person on the planet, hands down. She brought me to church as a kid, made sure I had fancy Easter dresses, made sure I knew I was loved, and she has always encouraged me to make the most of my life. My mom was adopted so this woman isn’t even a blood relative. My mom’s adoption was part of a much bigger story, and one thread in that is me and Aunt Wilma. I am the woman I am today in large part because of her.
- My sister – Shelby was born when I was 6, and I resented the fact that she stole my spotlight. I went from being this theatrical, bright, loud kid to someone very unsure of herself and of her place in life. My sister was born with some medical complications, and as a six-year-old, I was not equipped to deal with what that meant for our family. If I’m being really honest, it wasn’t until I left for college that my sister became very precious to me. I’ll never forget pulling out of the driveway the day I left for college, seeing her, so small, standing in the doorway waving at me. I cried all the way down the street. (And I’m crying right now remembering.) This girl, this woman now, this mom, is my best friend. I didn’t understand when I was growing up why I needed a sister. I didn’t take advantage of the blessing because I didn’t recognize it. But she is for my good. She showed and still shows me what humility is, what is means to turn the other cheek, what it means to forgive, and what it means to love unconditionally.
- Friendships – I’ve learned a lot about guarding my heart and protecting this sacred area of life. Some of the friendships in my life have been unhealthy, some downright toxic. What I have come to understand is that when submitted to God and when centered on the Truth of his Word, friendships are a vessel through which he speaks. God has allowed me to invest in some people who didn’t draw me closer to him, but he used the fallout the teach me what it means to be discerning. Do I wish that some of my choices had been different? Yes, but God has used everything for my good. Now, I am blessed to have many godly women in my life who build me up and encourage me on a daily basis to seek Him.
- Relationships – When I got divorced, I prayed for months that God would still restore and redeem. I prayed for a miracle. I prayed that God would give me a love story that would speak loudly about redemption and his grace. He didn’t answer that prayer in the way that I wanted him to. I still don’t understand a lot of things, but here’s what I do know… Nothing ever came my way that He did not ordain. Does that mean that it was God’s will that I get divorced? No, and may no one ever say that such a thing would be so. But, God allowed it to happen. And he has used it for my good. Never before had I fallen on my face before him in such desperation. Never before did I hang on every Word as if it were my bread. Never before had I needed him like air and water for my soul. Never before had I known what it meant for the Lord to be my Provider, my Comforter, my Refuge. What the enemy meant for my harm, the Lord triumphantly turned around for my good.
- Calvary – As an adult, I didn’t want to move in with a family of 6, but I did. I am an introvert, and I like my space. God put me in the upstairs guest room of a home with 4 kids. He’s funny like that. He set me on top of a mountain where I didn’t have cell phone service. He allowed me to only have one part-time teaching job while I was in the midst of my life falling apart and coming back together. But you know what? It was for my good. I learned to be content with what I had. I learned that family was a safe place. I learned that the body of Christ is a family. I learned that it was ok to not be ok. I learned to be vulnerable, to ask for help, and to seek the Lord above all else. That home was a place of healing and rest. I learned as much from the kids as I did from the pastor and his wife with whom I lived for a year. This one year of my life is actually just a glimpse into the life I get to have at Calvary, and I am so, so thankful.
It’s been a little over a year since then. Tonight, just now, a group of girls left my house after a night of fellowship, cake and a lot of sparkle. These are the girls I do life with. They are the ones who pray with me and for me. They know where I’ve been, and they encourage me to seek the Lord in everything that I do. If you had asked me 5 years ago, 3 years ago, even 1 year ago what my 30th birthday would look like, I couldn’t have imagined this. It was beyond what I could ask for. God is so good. His blessings and his mercies are never ending. I have so much to be thankful for. Even now I am thinking of many things on the horizon, things that have his fingerprints all over them. I wait with anticipation for what the Lord has next. He never fails to disappoint, and I know that no matter what he asks me to walk through next, it will something that will bring glory to his name. I pray that I will be obedient in whatever may come.
Here’s to acknowledging that my last 30 years were held in God’s hands and that they next 70 or so will be all the more glorious as I learn to walk closer and closer with him. He will be faithful to the end.
You are my Guide / You are faithful to the end / And when my heart is frail / You don’t give up on me / You won’t deny Yourself / You won’t deny Yourself // Nothing could ever come my way that You have not ordained / You turn it all around for good / When the mountains melt away my Hope remains the same / You turn it all around for good / For my good