I grew up surrounded by a whole lot of God. My sweet family all loved him, and we were very connected at our church and dearly loved our friends there. I have been in and to all children groups and camps, the good ones and the terrible ones. I went to a private christian school from 3rd-12th grade. I know all the cheesy songs (not a master at the ones that involve spelling something, which seem to be most of them,) and can take on any of you on at sword drills (3, 2, 1, Obadiah). I know most of the stories between those two covers, and can probably map out a few people’s journeys across various places around the world.
Needless to say, I know a whole lot about God and the Bible. But it took until I was 20 to decide if I thought he was good because there is a lot of crazy between those two covers.
The Bible is full of a lot of weird stories. There is a whole lot of sex, some bears eating babies, people turning into salt, walls falling down at the shooting of men, oceans splitting, waters calming, and worlds being flooded. Their are men in furnaces and lions dens, and frequently random women, children, and animals dying. There are droughts, famines, and food falling from the sky. Blind see, lame walk, and a very pregnant lady has to give birth with no meds in a horse stall. (You think this God stuff is boring, read the Bible, it’s bizarre.)
I wanted to know and truly believed that God was good. To do that, I had to start at the end before I could go back to the beginning.
Not often in life do I get the chance to see the big picture in the midst of circumstances. Sometimes life is hard, things happen, and situations hurt. I have thrown countless fits in the midst, questioning God’s goodness in my pain.
And then life continues and beauty comes from hard and I get it more. I can look back often and see and understand why things happened the way they happened.
That doesn't make them any less hard, but I know some of the most painful things have brought the most beautiful gifts in the end.
My little world is such a tiny piece of the puzzle of life that God loves and tends to individually. But my piece feels big and so I complain, and his answer is usually along the lines of, “Just wait. You can’t even begin to imagine the grand scheme of what I doing in and around you.”
That, my friends is the Old Testament, the first part of the Bible. It is his constant, “Just wait.” to the world.
But it is hard and painful and often very confusing. He seems mean and harsh and inconsistent. There are hard stories of pain.
But in the covers of this big book, He not only gave us the beginning, but also the end of the story, the big picture of his plan of love and kindness.
In my life, I can look at the end and see more of the good in the beginning. And in my search to decide if God was good, I found the same to be true. I can very easily go to the beginning and read the pain. I can empathize with the people and decide God’s character by the stories I see there.
Or I can flip past the, “Just wait.” and read the end, and as I do that the big picture is slowly but surely revealed to me.
I find that, like I do with my life, I begin to whisper, “Oh, I get it now.
You are good, you are kind, you are God.”
I can read the end, see the grace, and then eventually, when I have decided and defined God’s character for myself, go back to the beginning, because God doesn’t change, so if he was good at the end, he was good at the beginning.
God gave us the gift of his big picture in the Bible.
So quit reading the Old Testament and deciding and defining who God is because it’s hard and confusing, and just the beginning.
Skip to the end and get to know him through the people who raised him and lived with him and walked so many miles with him; through the people who he touched and who touched him; through the people who carried his body away and those who touched the holes in his hand three days later, and through the people who risked their lives daily to make sure you and I would still be talking about him.
And then after you read the end, the beginning begins to make sense.
I finally decided that God is good. He was good then, he is good now, and he was good at the very beginning.
And even when I don’t fully get or understand all of the picture, one day we will hang out and he will show me how all the little puzzle pieces of lives that he individually tends to and cares for, fit together and create something more beautiful than anything I could dream or imagine.