Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Under a Friendly Sky

One of the habits I've developed with regard to my "One Word" focus for the year is to keep a list where I record occurrences of the word in Scripture as I encounter them in my reading. Another is to set aside a section of a commonplace book where I can copy out quotes including my word. (I also have a virtual commonplace file in Google Keep to copy and paste quotes discovered in digital reading.) It's amazing how the choice of a word opens my eyes to see it everywhere, and these small habits make a big difference in my growth in understanding my word.

This year my word is "good." Last week I pulled out my well-worn copy of A. W. Tozer's The Knowledge of the Holy and reread its chapter on the goodness of God. The following excerpt helped me. May the Lord bless it to your encouragement too.
Divine goodness, as one of God's attributes, is self-caused, infinite, perfect, and eternal. Since God is immutable He never varies in the intensity of His loving-kindness. He has never been kinder than He now is, nor will He ever be less kind. He is no respecter of persons but makes His sun to shine on the evil as well as on the good, and sends His rain on the just and on the unjust. The cause of His goodness is in Himself; the recipients of His goodness are all His beneficiaries without merit and without recompense.
With this agrees reason, and the moral wisdom that knows itself runs to acknowledge that there can be no merit in human conduct, not even in the purest and the best. Always God's goodness is the ground of our expectation.... Prayer is not in itself meritorious. It lays God under no obligation nor puts Him in debt to any. He hears prayer because He is good, and for no other reason. Nor is faith meritorious; it is simply confidence in the goodness of God, and the lack of it is a reflection upon God's holy character. 
The whole outlook of mankind might be changed if we could all believe that we [who are in Christ] dwell under a friendly sky and that the God of heaven, though exalted in power and majesty, is eager to be friends with us (pp. 128-129).
Those of you who have been reading my posts in chronological order may be wondering how this fits with the previous 2 posts about our recent family bereavement. I don't pretend to understand the mystery of God's goodness in our suffering, but I accept that it is true, because the Bible teaches it. Preaching truth to my feelings instead of letting feelings drown out the truth has become a very important spiritual discipline for me, and it doesn't happen automatically or accidentally.

The times when the love, faithfulness, or goodness of God are least palpable to my soul are the times I most need to seek diligently for their evidence. The best place to do that is Scripture, but the testimonies of wise Christians, past and present, also help. Casting back in my own memories to recall and meditate on God's mighty and gracious works is also important. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, we must actively remember, lest we forget.

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