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*a guest post by author Connie Almony*
I’ve always loved this verse and my bet is I’m not the only one. It’s one of those we see oft quoted on Twitter, Facebook, memes on Pinterest, and mentioned in sermons. Why do we all love this verse so much? I guess because it reminds us that for those who love God, there really are no bad things. Only things that look bad until God works them into good.
That’s just an awesome thought.
However, though this verse is talked about a lot, it usually is in relation to the bad things that happen to us—cancer, job loss, betrayal, etc. Rarely do I see devotions touting how God changes even the bad things we do into good. Maybe because we worry it would be like telling kids God will make candy nutritious once eaten.
Would people obey Him if He’s only going to make their sins good in the end anyway? I don’t think that’s the point. It’s kind of like sinning purposely so grace can increase (Romans 6:1). And do you really love God if you purposefully thumb your nose at His commands?
However, as we sinners repent of destructive pasts and occasional slips, we will see His power at its greatest—the power that not only stretches and refines us, but uses the history we’ve left behind for His Glory. Amazing!
Let me show you how this works …
Growing up, I saw illegal drugs regularly used in my neighborhood. Unbeknownst to my parents, I was so young when I first saw cocaine being used I thought they were doing sand art. This was at the house of a family from our Christian school. Not being strong in faith at the time, I came very close to succumbing to the temptation to use on more than one occasion. But for some reason, God intervened over and over again through a few chosen people who were actively using themselves. Why they protected me from the thing they engaged in I do not know. I figure God spoke through them in His infinite wisdom because He wanted me to write about what I saw from the fringes of a drug-using community. And He wanted me to see it from a sober point-of-view.
Then I wondered, why hadn’t God also protected those who’d protected me? I will not presume to say I understand all His plans, but I’ve had the great fortune of knowing that one of those very protectors is now serving the Lord, evangelizing to the lost … sometimes in bars. Very effectively!!!
I could never have done that.
Recently, my bar-evangelizing sister-in-Christ lamented to me that she has a hard time explaining to people all of what God has done in her life. She looks to me as someone who is good with words. I asked her, “How many people have begun to pursue God after a conversation with you?”
I added, “You don’t know, do you? There’s more than you can count.” I’d attended a baptism in the spring where at least four of those being dunked that night could trace their faith journey from a discussion with her.
Pause. “Well, yeah. I guess.”
I explained to her that I, with all my supposed ability with words, do not know of a single person who came to Christ because of me. Her testimony is impactful because she’s been there and speaks from the heart. THAT is what God intended in her life. THAT is how he uses her past for His glory.
I, on the other hand, am an encourager/teacher for those who have already begun the journey. Both our roles are important, but different—exactly what God planned when He directed our lives. And if we really thought about it, neither of us would have Him change a thing, because God has worked even those awful things each of us has done into good.
Connie Almony is trained as a mental health therapist and likes to mix a little fun with the serious stuff of life. She was a 2012 semi-finalist in the Genesis Contest for Women’s Fiction and was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Winter 2012 WOW Flash Fiction Contest. Her latest novel, Flee from Evil, is about a pastor with a past who uses his underworld connections to save the child of the woman he wronged many years ago. Watch out for more books in each of her series, as well as a multi-author novella anthology coming Summer 2016.
Pastor Vince Steegle thought his destructive beginnings were ancient history, but the ramifications of his prior choices just walked in the door of his church. Is Romans 8:28 really true? Can God really make all things good? Or is Vince’s past just too ugly?
After the death of her much-beloved husband, Cassandra Whitaker is looking for security for her children. One, a teen on the cusp of womanhood. The other, a young boy struggling with the effects of autism. But there are those who seek to destroy them. Can Cassandra keep her family safe, or must she flee from evil?