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!)