Some say “every cloud has a silver lining.” Like Milton who penned the following statement “Was I deceived or did a sable cloud turn forth her silver lining on the night?” I have come to believe God really does work all things for good in the hearts and lives of those who love Him com-pletely. Those who love Him come rain or shine.
In his closing comments to his friends and comrades in Thessalonica, Paul captured the depths of spiritual-ity when he wrote:
“16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continu-ally, 18 give thanks in all circum-stances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)
During this Thanksgiving season my attention has been drawn to his clos-ing insight, especially the idea of giv-ing thanks “in all circumstances.” At first glance this recommendation seems fitting for the stoic who grimly expects the worst of life, but does God really want us to thank Him in “all circumstances?”
Now with a few hundred thousand miles on my odometer, I must confess that Paul was absolutely right. Look-ing back over the previous mile mark-ers of my journey, I realize that many of those unexpected detours led me on a ribbon of back roads that deliv-ered me to some of the most amazing destinations along the way.
“A Lost Senior Year”
During the summer of my junior year at Haltom High, I received the dreaded news that our family would be uprooted and moved to the piney woods of East Texas to a strange little
city called Texarkana. At the moment I knew my world had been crushed. I lost a senior year with my friends, a girl friend, and the future I had charted. To-day I realize this detour led me to preaching opportunities never dreamed of, to enrolling in Baylor University, and meeting the love of my life, Robyn. God works all things for good.
In October 2007, I narrowly lost the election to be president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas to Joy Fenner. A dear friend of mine, Bill Wright, nominated me and we both sensed we were part of something very special going into the vote. When I heard the news that I had lost by sixty votes, I was crushed. It tested my char-acter and my resolve to work for posi-tive change.
Strangely my narrow defeat led to my victory the following year in Fort Worth. God used that year in exile to hone my heart and create networks of friends across the state. Once again God’s timing was best. God works all things for good.
As you look back over your journey this Thanksgiving, let me encourage you to jot down a “thanksgiving list with a twist.” Look back and note how many times you have uncovered the finger prints of God all over some of the twists and turns of the adventure we call life.
Thank God for prayers unanswered, closed doors and open windows, sleep-less nights that led to marvelous sun-rises, and tears turned into joy. Be thankful God still works all things for the good of those who love Him.