Summary: Not everything that happens to us is always good, but if we love God and are obedient to His purpose for our lives, eventually He works out everything in our lives for His glory and for our good.
GOOD RESULTS FROM BAD CIRCUMSTANCES
During my quiet time a few days ago God revealed to me that I had never preached on Romans 8:28, my favorite verse of Scripture: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” That became my favorite verse on March 12, 1965, at the age of seventeen. My pastor The Rev. Eugene Black presented me with the book YOUTH SEEKS A MASTER by Louis H. Evans from the Methodist Men of my home Church Marion Aldersgate Methodist. He inscribed this verse on the presentation page.
What led to this special gift, specifically the gift of the Scriptural promise more than Evans’ book? It all stems from the event that happened to four of my friends, one of their Mothers, and me on the evening of Saturday, February 27, 1965. All these friends were Southern Baptists, but we were all part of Christian organizations in Marion High School including the Bible Club. At least two of them had felt God’s call to enter full time Christian Service.
Before my freshman year in high school I began hearing God’s call on my life as well. Back then we didn’t call it “The Call to Ministry.” It was “The Call to Preach,” the last thing in the world I wanted to do although I wanted to be a good Christian that always had the assurance I would go to heaven. God and I had battled over His Call on my life for two-and-one-half years. I wanted instead to be a music teacher and had actually made the decision to major in music about two months before graduating from the eighth grade, but three months later the Holy Spirit began to reveal He had other plans for me. I did not want to listen to Him and continued to plead and argue like Moses at the burning bush, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it” (Exodus 4:13). In my heart I knew beyond all doubt that I would never have peace with God until I had fully surrendered to His plan for my life.
My friends and I were in our upcoming production of SOUTH PACIFIC, we were going to our arch rival Herrin High School’s production of L’il Abner, a drive of less than nine miles. As we reached the outskirts of Herrin, the driver of the car approaching us lost control, skidded into our lane, and hit us head-on. Seat belts were not standard equipment in 1965. I was seated behind my friend Alan, the driver; his girl friend and Mother were in the front seat with him. Had Alan’s Mom not been with us, I am positive I would have been in her seat. She never regained consciousness.
Because I grabbed the front seat to brace myself for the impact, my right wrist was severely broken; the doctors told my Dad it was like hamburger. I also had a badly broken nose. Alan’s Mom, a dedicated Christian and long time Sunday School teacher at Marion First Baptist Church, was ready to meet Jesus. Because of my wrestling with Him for some 30 plus months over my call to preach, I was not absolutely certain I was. At that moment I said, “Lord, if you will only get me out of this mess, I’ll do what you want me to do.”
It was under these circumstances that Gene Black called my attention to Romans 8:28. For awhile following the accident I believed I had been predestined to be in that collision in order for God to call me to my senses. Soon, however, I read a testimony, I don’t remember where, that affirmed the truth that indeed, “. . .We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” It said something like this, “So often when something bad happens to us we say, ‘This is God’s will, when actually it is only human circumstances.” Not everything that happens to us as Christians is good, but God has an uncanny way of taking those bad situations, hardships, heartaches, hurts, illnesses, sorrows, disappointments, and pain and turning them into something good for His glory and our growth in Christian maturity.
This is not a new Christian principle. It finds expression in the Old Testament in the Life of Joseph, Jacob’s favorite son to whom he gave The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. Joseph was seventeen when his brothers sold him into Egyptian slavery. It wasn’t until he was about thirty that he was elevated to the position of Pharaoh’s Prime Minister. He was wrongfully incarcerated in prison much of that time, perhaps as long as eleven years.