Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Come and See What God Has Done!!!

How many of you have grown up in churches where the title of this post is often repeated over everything good that happens to the church or the people in it? We used to give testimonies of “What God had Done.” that week in our lives. Each year we ended the year on a time of giving thanks for all that God had done that year. We often shared our testimony with a non-Christian and filled it full of “what God had done” for us to the point that it made it look stupid to turn down such a God and his invitation to also participate in all the good he wanted to do for them. (I think we imagined that God did not do the same for them, just we who believed like us and especially those that attended our particular group.)

Something happened this month that has had me pondering this phrase. Husband reached the point in his business where the home office opened a new office for him here in our town. Their philosophy is that each financial representative needs to have their own office with their own administrative assistant so that the customers/investors will be personally taken care of. A small town approach to investing.

His office is beautiful. It looks like he has already achieved success. We have a prime location close to down town. If you didn’t know that the bulk of the funding came from the Company, you would assume that he is doing brilliantly at this new career of just 2 years.

But it has been the hardest thing he has ever endeavored. He sweated bullets to pass his Series 7 exams. He worked long hours going door to door and talking to new clients in the dead of winter. He has pushed himself to be a salesman while still trying to remain full of integrity. He has turned down profit for the good of the person sitting across the table. He has struggled with living with quotas and sales deadlines that never run his life before. And yes, he is right where the company feels he should be at this time. They are happy with him. Happy enough that they trust him to open an office downtown. But he has worked extremely hard. None of it has been easy.

See, we were taught that as we begin something there would be “favor” on us. We had tithed and given and were to reap 100 fold. We had been faithful and so God would be faithful to us. Everything good that happened in our lives was attributed to the goodness of God and his favor on our lives. The new office would have been “spun” something like this at our annual year end party:

We give praise to God for his favor on our lives this year. Husband's new office, the beauty of it, it’s prime location and everything. He is so good to us. We have sowed and are now reaping God’s blessing in our lives. Praise Him.

(makes you want to puke - right?)

But instead, this office and all that it stands for smacks of really hard work and really long hours by a man who is tired and often not very satisfied with his life. It has not felt like favor, it has felt like an emotional rollercoaster. It has not felt like reaping - especially since we don’t believe in that crap anymore.

The wild thing about it is that before I would have never had the guts to really say it. I would have only given the ‘spin’ and not the truth of how I really felt. And I think this speaks to the insidious nature of our conversation before we left. Everything was sugar coated. Everything was wrapped in a “God’s favor” colored wrapping paper that covered the truth of what was going on. Nothing was real. Nothing was hard and anyone who really told the truth was not “giving God the glory.”

So what do I believe about God in our year this year? I believe He is good. I believe when Marsh felt he could not go in the office another day that there was strength of a Father who loved him and did not keep him on a goal oriented treadmill - work does - God does not. I believe that the relationship that we have with Him (and each other) this year is stronger and more real. I believe that He has heard our prayers and empathized with our struggles. I believe the favor in our lives is the same favor that is enjoyed by all. It is not measured with success or wealth or circumstance that come to us but with an open invitation to have a relationship with Him. I have no more favor on my life than you do. I have no less than someone else. My relationship with Him is not determined by how giving I am. My relationship with others is. It is to them he asks me to give anyway.

Yes, “Come and Look at what God has Done.”

Then go and see my husband’s office and slap him on the back for all his hard work and perseverance.

And while you are there ask him what he knows of the Father's heart. To that he can speak.

(yes that is a real picture of his office!)


co_heir said...

In 2005 I lost my job and spent a couple of months looking for work, and then a couple of months at a really crappy job. In 2006 I started a good job, but my mom went in the nursing home due to Alzheimer's. She died later that year, followed by my dad a month later.

Those were the two worst years of my life, and I don't think anyone would say that God was showing me "favor". I really hope I wasn't reaping what I had sowed. :) I can honestly say that the Father has brought me closer and shown me how much he loves me.

So, I guess you could say, "Look at what God has done." :)

Anonymous said...

husband and i left our controlling, "covering" church end of 2007 and know they were thinking we would be "cursed" for it. 2008 has been the best year yet! and yes, our relationship with Him is more real and stronger.
The Look what God has Done services always had the feel that He did it for that person because they were faithful serving in the church or being loyal to Pastor. 2008 was a year of discovering we were worshipping and serving man, and Pastor became our Holy Spirit for us at times. Well look what God has done for us in 2008, just because He loves us. period. thank you for your blog. i relate!

Mark Main said...

Great post. I can relate to this so much. Not only was I once part of that scene myself. I have watched it play out before my eyes recently.

Some relatives of mine recently bought a very nice and very big new home. The wife is constantly talking about how God has blessed them and had favor on them because they go to church, pay their tithes. She is fond of saying that they could have never afforded such a nice house without God.

I think it actually offends her husband some. He isn't from that type of background. He works long, hard, and lonely hours to make the money to afford such a home. I see the looks on his face when she consistently says these things without ever acknowledging all the hard work he has put in.

Of course as for me I don't think God really cares that they have a big, new, shiny home.

Spankie said...

I am a recovering addict and violent man. almost twenty years ago i came to know the Lord and changed my life.

After cleaning up, serving God in ministry etc... being a good citizen.. my wife left me and took my kids...i lost everything, home, business, family...

my statement was.. look what God has done, and I walked away...

I was so angry, pissed off, how come i never had a problem before i met Him.

I am back now, God did not do it.. Sin did. I look now at the cross with wonder, shame and thanksgiving... then bow my head in the shadow of the crucified Lord and say..



Frankie G

Woman on the Edge said...

THANK YOU for being brave enough to write the truth. I'm finding as my head comes up out of the sand that most "unchurched" people see right through all those platitudes anyway. Seems silly to direct them toward the circus of circumstance rather than just be real about our loving Father in the first place. But I suppose, first we must come to a point where we see through the platitudes ourselves.

Barb said...

Co-Heir, I love your take you Look at what God has done! I think that is what he is wanting to show each of us.

Anony, Sounds like you know what I was saying. Yes, all the Testimony times made me feel like I was sub par if God had not done something in my life that week that would make me feel better. I cringe at what I shared that made everyone else feel inadequate.

Mark, we always equated our home with our giving. It truly was a gift from God at that time in our lives. But I'm uncomfortable now at saying it was because of our giving or obedience. I really struggle with this because we felt like we did obey God and he rewarded us for that. But to share this causes everyone else to question why their obedience did not result in the same. Husband and I were discussing this the other day at length.

Spankie, thanks for commenting. It is truly at the cross that we need to stay and be thankful. It changed everything.

Woman, Thank you for also being open. I have enjoyed getting to know you today as I read your blog. Your willingness to walk openly the path that you have been given is truly wonderful. Blessings.

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Anonymous said...

'We give praise to God for his favor on our lives this year. Husband's new office, the beauty of it, it’s prime location and everything. He is so good to us. We have sowed and are now reaping God’s blessing in our lives. Praise Him.'

I became a Christian, 5 years later lost my husband the love of my life to mental illness and eventually divorce.

7 years later I entered into a relationship with a well respected church leader in my church. He abused me and my daughter over a period of 5 years. When I told the Pastor he called me a liar and threw me and my children out of our church - the only place of safety we thought we had.

Following this we lost all our christian friends (the pastor told everyone not to speak to me as I was a liar) we then lost our home and had to start again in a new city alone on the edge of my sanity and homeless. My daughter then became anorexic/bulimic and over the past 9 years I've nearly lost her on many occasions. This christmas the 1st for many years she's on the mend and may eat dinner with us....

I love Jesus and so does she - he died for us and loves us. Myself and my children are strong in him - and I'm so grateful for all he let me go through to be where I am today.

look what God has done!

He's amazing. But not in the way most christians would understand.

Mary said...


I completely understand what you're saying. I believed in this, too. People told my husband for years that he walked in God's favor. It sure looked like it many times, but that thinking sets people up for a near crisis of faith when bad/difficult/stressful times come to them. Also, what are the people to do when they don't seem to walk in the same "favor"? They spend so much energy trying to figure out what they need to do to "get" that same favor instead of just resting in the Father's love. Thanks for posting.