The first time I heard Chris Tomlin’s song “Good Good Father” was during church at the beginning of January. That was a difficult Sunday: I was dealing with some tedious emotions related to transitions happening at work, and I just couldn’t see my way through them that day. I knew Pops had been taking care of all the details related to the transition from full-time nanny to part-time nanny, as well as those related to the attempt to fill in the financial gaps with freelance copyediting; everything had been coming together so providentially, there was no denying that was the path He had me on. But when this tedium related to that transition surfaced, it really threw me for a loop. I honestly wondered if He was going to ask me to quit my job. That was such an unbearable idea, because 1) leaving my nanny family after over three years of caring for them would cause a grieving process I had no desire to pass through again, and 2) starting over with a new family would likely require me to remain at full-time status, meaning the months of work I’d already invested in launching Et Al. Editing would have been seemingly wasted.
I was an emotional wreck that day. I sat in church with my heart hurting, at a total loss as to how to proceed or what God was asking me to do. I cried through every song that day, but especially through “Good Good Father.” That was the first time I heard that song, and boy did it hit home! Pops reminded me of my adoption, of His care for the tiniest of details, of the safety found in His sovereignty and providence. He didn’t give me answers, but He let me pour out the emotions and stress, and He treasured every tear and painful heart cry. He reminded me of who He is, and He reminded me of what that means about who I am.
Thankfully, the tedious transition details worked themselves out through some intentional conversations between my nanny bosses and me. It was good to take the time to dig down to the bottom of those matters and figure out how to get on the same page for moving forward. It was even better that it meant confidence for me in staying right where I was. Oh how thankful I was that I did not have to quite my job and leave my “babies”! (They really aren’t babies anymore: the oldest is now nine, and the twins are three-and-a-half! What?!)
But that song has continued to stick with me, playing on a loop in my head, resonating deeply in my heart. As the original situation during which the song was introduced to me has passed, my mind and heart have been free to let the message of the song penetrate the deeper places and darker corners, measuring its truth against much harder things I’ve walked through and that may still be to come. The coupling of the chorus and bridge is what has echoed most profoundly so far:
You’re a good, good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am
‘Cause You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us
He is perfect in all His ways to us. Perfect. In all His ways. Let that sink in for just a moment.
At the recent IF:Gathering event that I blogged about, Angie Smith shared a message about Abraham being asked by God to take his only son—the son of God’s promise to him—and kill him as a sacrifice to prove his fidelity to God. Having suffered the loss of a child herself, she could relate to some of what Abraham may have been feeling during that experience. At one point she stopped suddenly and proclaimed vehemently: “It drives me nuts when people say that God doesn’t test us. Yes He does!
“God does not tempt us, but He definitely does test us!”
Many people claim that it is contradictory to say that God is good and loving and that God would choose painful stories for His children to live through. So, they concede that God just simply allows those things to happen to us, as if He’s passively sitting by watching as it happens, intervening for our good only after the thing is done. They cannot wrap their heads around the idea that God, even in His goodness, perfection, and love, would actively inflict upon us the trials and sufferings that we walk through in this life, that suffering and goodness are not mutually exclusive.
But here is what I know: God chose for me to be born into my family, and He planned all the days of my life and then wrote them in His book before a single one of them had ever come to be (Psalm 139:16). That is not passive allowance! That means that God didn’t just know but planned that I would be a survivor of abandonment, neglect, abuse, and misuse. It also means that He had a plan for how to use those for my good, to give me a future and a hope, to draw me close to Him, to display His glory for the world to see, and to spread the good news of eternal and abundant life and joy completed through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Here is the other thing I know: He is perfect in all of His ways to us, to me. If He is the good, good Father, and if He is perfect in all of His ways to me, then it must also be true that what I have lived through and all the things that I have yet to live through are part of His perfect ways to me. If I believe that, then it must change my perspective on those experiences: not that I shouldn’t despise the fruit of sin and depravity as it wreaks havoc in my life—or in your life—but that I should trust that the despair and hopelessness and apparent end that those experiences seem to write into my story are not the true story. They are not in fact the period at the end of the sentence. There is something far more real than what I feel going on, and faith is the lens that brings clarity; it’s how I learn to recognize and hope in God’s goodness, His love, and His perfect ways to me until one day “my faith shall be sight.” Oh what a glorious day that will be!
In the meantime, I am trying to be present in this season of rest, in this reprieve I’ve been granted from the darkness of the last eighteen months. I don’t know how long it will last, but I do know that sooner or later I will walk back into the shadows for one reason or another. My prayer is that if I soak long enough in the truth of God’s perfect ways toward me—if I do that right now while that is still the prominent storyline—then maybe it will be easier to distinguish His “tender whispers in the dead of night” when my feelings are once again screaming false stories at me. Maybe it will be easier to recall that hope to mind and take refuge in it while I wait for the light of day.