They say third time’s a charm. Well it was four trips to the BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles, it’s an Indiana/Maine/Ohio thing apparently) until I got everything taken care of. On the first trip, I hadn’t checked on what I needed, and so I found out that what I had thought would be enough wouldn’t be close. Second time I thought I had everything, but found out one of the documents I had brought wouldn’t work. Third time, same thing. Finally, on my fourth try, I got an Indiana license and the title on my car transferred and registered. That’s not even taking into account the document I had to mail back to my parents so they could fill something out and send it back, the time I got everything together to realize they were closed on Monday, the conflicting things I was told by different workers, or the fact my registration had expired so I couldn’t even drive my car and had to have a police officer come over and check my VIN. I started going to different BMVs because it got embarrassing going back to the same one over and over.
Which raises an interesting question: why did God allow that to happen? He is sovereign and orchestrates everything in our lives, and Romans 8:28 tells us that he works all things together for good. So what good is there in four trips to the BMV and several hours of wasted time? On a several occasions, I could have made slightly different choices that would have shortened the whole process or even taken off a trip or two, but God wanted this to take forever. Why?
Part of me was hoping there would be some incredibly awesome and very obvious reason behind it all, like leading someone to the Lord while waiting in the lobby on the fourth try, or my office exploding for some random reason while I’m gone and I would have been hurt or killed if I had been in it. But nothing that drastic happened. After my fourth try, I got my license and registration, and to my knowledge no one was saved and no lives were spared. So why all the hassle? Why does God ever let those types of things happen? Why do frustrating, pointless things happen in our lives when we serve a God who can and I’m sure often does keep such things from happening? Where does Romans 8:28 meet everyday life?
Well, Romans 8:28 is followed by Romans 8:29, which tells us how God works all things together for our good. He does so by making us more like Christ. Together they read:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
God’s idea of good for us is that we look like Jesus Christ. And he is using everything--especially the frustrating things--in our lives to accomplish that end. For example, I found myself getting really agitated, until two words exploded in my mind: “Rejoice evermore” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). Now? After all this, after wasting all this time and energy, I’m supposed to rejoice, Lord? Yep. Evermore. “Do all things with grumbling or disputing” (Philippians 2:14). I can’t complain about this. But do you have any idea how ridiculous this has been? I must do all things--not just most things--without grumbling and disputing.
As much as we might not like it, God often uses the frustrating things in our lives to build Christlike character in us. But can you see it? Are you looking? Do you see God trying to build patience, joy, gratitude, or even faith that he is in control and he knows what he’s doing? I wish God could make my life smooth sailing and at the same time I would grow closer and closer to him and become more and more like Christ, but unfortunately that’s not how it works. It’s resistance that builds muscle, and it’s conflict that builds character. And so our God wants us to trust him and not demand an answer as to why things aren’t working out the way we would like them. He wants us to remain Spirit-led, peaceful, and joyful both when our lives are devastated and when they’re simply interrupted. Because everything is working for our good, even four trips to the BMV.
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