The Good Is So Good

Gen. 1:3, 4a Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light, and God saw that the light was good.

He speaks, it happens, and it is good. All creation is wholly responsive to God’s will—on each day of this first week, what he speaks happens.  The will of God is Good, and when He conducts, the whole universe is in harmony, each element contributing to the whole like a mighty symphony.  Where each part is in sync with him, it is in harmony with every other part.  He is the precise tone to which all must be tuned or disharmony crashes the song.

I have often struggled to see God’s will as good.  I have rather seen it as a policeman forcing me to abide by laws that were inhibiting and unpleasant, to forgo my own good so that others could have it good.  Good was a limited commodity, and I had to sacrifice in order that another could be happy—have only one piece of cake so everyone gets their share, let the other person sit in the easy chair, sweep the kitchen and dust the end table so the guests will be more comfortable.

The creation story in contrast shows God’s will as pure goodness and all beauty and joy of the richest kind.  There is no lack.  The greatest pleasure of the river was to run down its course, giving life to all around it, the full joy of the deer was to frolic and munch grass, and Adam and Eve walked with God himself in the sweetest communion.

Then something happened, a shadow of doubt brushed across their minds—was this really the best of all possible worlds?  What if they tried out their own tune, smash a cymbal in the middle of the musical rest?  Why should the conductor always have his way?  They had their own wills to think of, their own wisdom, their own path by which to seek good as it seemed to them.  And so the symphony fell into a cacophonous disaster.

We tried to fix it.  We shouted at one another, “Stop resisting!  Play the score as it’s written!” and to the extent we did, the order was restored… but not the joy.  We tried to force conformity, something our gracious God never did, even as he watched the first couple take the forbidden fruit.  For true good can no more be forced than true love.  It must pour out as the natural flow of the heart.  God himself knew the canker in our souls came from disbelief.  Only restored trust, not stricter compliance, would awaken the good we had lost.

But centuries of training in the old mode, the “do it because I said so” trope, has darkened our view of God’s goodness.  My default is to suppose that God’s will is what he wants in opposition to what I want, when in fact it is my OWN desires that are in opposition to what I truly want.  The quick fix, the easy get, the short-term reward that I want blocks my real, true, deep need.  I want to give a sharp retort to save face, but it doesn’t resolve my insecurity; I want to rush ahead of others to get to work on time, but the peace I seek is pushed farther away.  It is my true wants that are in direct alignment with God’s will.  He wants our needs fulfilled even more than we do.  God’s intention is not to override my wishes, but to truly satisfy them, to steer me away from my surface desires so that I seek and find my heart’s true fulfillment.  He is not trying to take our greatest pleasure away, but lead us on the path to find it.

Most of my life I thought that God wanted to take from me so as to give to others, that I must sacrifice, do without, suffer so that others could be helped.  He didn’t have enough good to go around, so he had to take some off my plate to give others…  my poor, impoverished God.  When I slowly awakened to the inexhaustible goodness of God, I realized he was the great giver, not the great taker, that every thought he had towards me was for my good, real good, and that he did not want my deprivation but my fulfillment.  And so I changed my name to Janathan: Ja-nathan, which means “God gives.”  The world is no longer pristine, but our God is as good as he ever was.

God, I keep reminding myself, and keep forgetting.  The inclination to force my own good behavior runs deep.  My growth into a faith that trusts your goodness seems to take so very long.  I shame myself and try to do better, only to remember that way is a dead-end detour away from the gentleness of my gracious God.  Teach me once again to rest in your loving heart.

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