I feel like one of those naked chicken tenders at Buffalo Wild Wings (not a paid ad, I promise).
But you know what I’m talking about right?
Their spicy wing counterparts are covered in battered and fried goodness and then coated in the delicious awesomeness of your tasty sauce selection.
But the naked tenders look on longingly as they shiver in the cold of blast of air conditioning and their desperate pleas drowned out in the cheers and jeers of fight night.
I feel like a naked tender.
Or at least my heart does.
God has been doing some major angioplasty on my heart in the past few years. You know, unclogging arteries and getting what I thought was a functional heart at an actual, honest to goodness, blood pumping level.
And just when I think I’ve begun to realize how bad the damage was, he lets me see just one more x-ray, one more camera shot, one more lab test of how bad it really was.
Don’t blame it on the wings, it’s not their fault.
And seeing how bad the damage was has been really sobering for me.
I’ve realized that I have never been able to get my stuff together.
You know, get my poop in a group.
I know, it’s a weird combination of body shop talk and chicken wings tonight, but I have a point.
You ready for it?
Here it comes. . .
God actually knows what he’s doing.
In the good times and the horrible ones. The ones we would rather forget and the ones we replay over and over in our minds. He is able to use all of it for our good. To change us into who we really want to be.
Just. . . Better.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
Romans 8:26-28 (The Message)
We are that loved.
That watched over.
He may not have wanted or caused some of the really awful things that have happened in our lives. There is still free will and an enemy that will try everything he can to get us to believe the lie.
But the truth is that we are so loved.
And God takes every detail, all of the good ones, all of the bad ones, and everything in between and makes something beautiful from it if we let him.
So how do we let him?
And then we trust some more.
At some point we turn, look back and begin to see how God was helping us all along.
We begin to see how we’ve changed.
How we’ve become better.
And then, with tears of gratitude in our eyes we realize that his hands are now resting on our shoulders as he turns us to look back towards the future. This time, we see the faces of people who are struggling with the things we used to struggle with. He whispers, “Now I want you to help them.”
There I will give her vineyards back to her
and make the Valley of Achor
into a gateway of hope.
There she will respond as she did
in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came out of the land of Egypt.
Hosea 2:15 (HCSB)
And somehow God, in that moment puts a cape on a naked tender and makes it a Super Naked Tender.