"My Verse" (a column for the local newspaper)

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[The following was published in the Moore County News on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010.]

During this—the week before Thanksgiving (one of my favorite days of the year!)—there has been a lot of news to report. From the impending royal wedding (“you’ve only been dating for nine years, are you sure she’s the one?”) to that guy in Wisconsin who blew away his TV with a shotgun because he didn’t like the outcome of “Dancing with the Stars” (what will this guy do if the Packers make it to the Super Bowl and lose?!?!), some interesting if not earth-shaking news has been reported.

For most of us, though, it was just another week. As a Christian, I read and study my Bible and it often seems that some verse I studied early in the week becomes my “Verse of the Week” … or, maybe, “Verse FOR the Week” as it keeps coming up again and again, applying to situations all through the week.

This week, somehow, my verse was Romans 8:28, “We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan.” (New Century Version)

That verse has come to mind every day this week as I have had to deal with the travails of life. Not “big travails”, mind you, but those little things that irritate and exasperate. Electricians that show up late and leave early. Flat tires. A shuttle schedule for the kids’ activities that just can’t be worked out. And some good things, too. A get-together with old friends. Some good news about my book sales. Good or bad or mediocre, God is working all these things for a purpose: my relationship with him.

I am a hospice volunteer and, this week, I had the privilege of being a “sitter”. That’s pretty much what it sounds like. Normally, when called to sit, I go and sit in the hospice suite at the Moore County Hospital—or maybe at the patient’s home—and … just sit.

I read a book or maybe bring my laptop but the main point is just to be there. It’s a service to the family of the person on hospice. It gives them a chance to go home, get a shower, maybe sleep in their own bed. A change of scenery from just hanging out at the hospital hour after hour, day after day, watching a loved one slip away.

Sometimes, though, I don’t get much reading or computing done.

If you've never spent three hours trying to convince a 96 year old invalid not to crawl out of bed, well, I can hardly describe the experience to you. In a sitcom it might be comical. In real life it's incredibly sad. Here's this once-vibrant person who would like nothing more than to walk around who can't be allowed out of bed because their bones and muscles no longer support them. And they can't hear, see or think well enough to comprehend that you're trying to talk them into staying in bed out of their own best interests.

A lot of thoughts come to mind at such a time. “Are there any words I can say or pray that would bring this person calm?” “Should I call the nurse, for the umpteenth time this hour?” And, let’s be honest, “I hope my relief shows up early.”

And sometimes, when sitting there—even with the patients who are “passing away calmly”—it’s hard to envision that all things really do work out for the good. But then, wait a minute, that’s not what the verse said, is it? It said that things work out for the good for those who love God. It is not a blanket promise that all will work out for the good for every person, but only for those who love God. It was a comforting verse in the wee hours of Thursday morning this week, because I knew that—current thrashing-about notwithstanding—the patient I had the privilege of serving loved God. I don’t know why the patient was in his current state, but I was blessed with the confidence that—because of his lifelong love of God—it would all work out for the good.

That seems a little unfair to our modern sensibilities, where we want not just equal opportunity for all, but equal results. God, though, desires that people would come to know him and spend eternity with him in heaven. For those who love him and choose him, he grants them the comforting knowledge that even those things which seem bad or harmful in this world will—ultimately, eternally—work to their good.

Maybe you’re looking around this morning and thinking, “I can’t imagine how the things in MY life could possibly work out for the good of anyone.” If so, I encourage you to come to one of the many wonderful churches here in Dumas this Sunday and ask us some questions. Let us show you the “peace that passes understanding”, as the Apostle termed it, and let God begin to work the troubles and triumphs in your life for your eternal good.