work for good

A bomb went off in front of a house at the front of my neighborhood Sunday (last) night, injuring two. Text alerts came to our cellphones; auto-dialed calls arrived on our land-line too, at 11 last night, at 5:30 this morning, at 6. We are staying inside our home, as requested—no drive to the office, no school. No workout, if Jen and I hadn’t already shifted that to the afternoon. Children in our neighborhood can’t go to school; the school in our neighborhood can’t hold classes. It’s a grim sort of snow day, with the redbud trees and the Mexican plum in glorious flower as the sun comes up.

So instead of hustling my gear together and joining the rush-hour flow, I am at the computer at 8:15 am, writing. And drinking good coffee.

In the space where I would be ‘doing school,’ I have room to not only write, but handle some household chores. I was away this weekend; on my return yesterday evening I started squinting my eyes at what needed to be done, and trying mentally to jam each thing into the day. Now I don’t have to squeeze—breathing room has arrived.

But in what a fashion—?!

As I leaned over the dishwasher, I found myself wryly mis-quoting:

We know that in all things God works for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
—Romans 8:28

By the way, it’s absolutely a mis-quote, how we Scripture-quoting folk deploy that verse. It’s not about gaining time to fold laundry, or about running late but then a close-to-the-door parking space appears. Paul here speaks to the Roman church, looking through the suffering and trauma of their present circumstance toward God’s larger plan of shalom. It’s all about:

[…]that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
—Romans 8:23-24

Still, in my slowed breathing this morning, in my tiny thankfulness, I see a glimmer where we mis-quoters may not be so self-deluded.

We who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose, and use Christ Jesus’ example as a pattern for our days,

we have put on God’s spectacles (to invert John Calvin’s idea).
With them, we look through our circumstance and see grace, blessing and mystery all around us.

More than that, if we are using God’s vision on our blurry circumstances, in those circumstances we are more able to do those things that move closer to shalom. Even if that thing is to create a little more home-order, my choice ripples into a little more peace and ease for we who call this home. After all, I could be spending (all) my found-time on Facebook and the interwebs, reloading and reloading to see what, if any, new scraps of information have surfaced.

In our mis-quoting, we imply that it is God who tugs on the fabric of the world to make things better for us who consider we are called according to God’s purpose. Instead, I see God in all things tugging on us. This is how we see God’s good, even in odd or dark places.

Time to put away the clean clothes.


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