CONNECT THE DOTS

Danith Jones was a young pregnant mother who had come down from Ohio to Alabama to visit her parents to produce and direct a show with them. While there, she gave birth to twins who spent the next four days in the ICU. Her husband, Paul, had to get back to work in Ohio, but the premies were too fragile to handle the eight-hour drive, so she stayed on with her parents. It was a rough separation, and she found herself running on empty. Ultimately, Paul and Danith decided to live permanently in Alabama. However, Paul had to take a significant pay cut at his new job. The production company where he worked collapsed, so all six in the family had to stay in their parent’s house. Then Mama collapsed, and she was gone.

Danith was angry; angry at God; angry that they had been uprooted; angry that everything had fallen apart: the move, the job, the loss. She often heard people quote the Bible, saying, ‘All things work together for good to those that love God.” How was any of this working together for good? One day, while sitting in Mama’s chair, watching the toddlers play with her dad, she heard her mom’s words, “This is a dot, Danith.” She flashed back to a particular afternoon in school when she had been upset because she was passed over for a part in the school play. She had unloaded her anger at her school teacher to Mama. “It’s unfair!” She said, “I should have gotten the part. Why me?!” Her Mama said, “It’s just a dot.” Then Mama pulled out a sheet of paper with numerous dots all over it. “What is this a picture of?” Mama asked. “I don’t know,” Danith replied. She could not make sense of all the dots. “So, we are the dots?” Danith asked. “No,” Mama said, “We’re the pencil.” Danith stood there and began to connect the dots. In no time, the line had come together to reveal a fish. What she couldn’t see before had become clear.

Right there in her mother’s chair, Danith stopped viewing all the recent events as blips of tragedy. She needed to trust God to reveal the beautiful bigger picture that all things could work together in our life for good. Dot to dot. (Adapted from Article in Guidepost magazine June/July 2019)

ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD

Romans 8:28 is a wonderful promise for His people. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God and to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Note the following point of this passage:

All things – Not just good things, but all things both good and bad are worked together for good in God’s plans. But this promise is not for everyone… it is for those who love God and are called. God loves us and has called us to Himself, to know Him through Jesus Christ who died to provide, “The way, The truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)

According to His Purpose – The word in Greek suggests a deliberate plan, an advanced plan, an intention, a design, a purpose. It relates to salvation in all its fullest meaning, and the subsequent verses give us a clue as to what that includes stating, “that we might be conformed [i.e., fashioned, made] into the image of His Son.” (Romans 8:29)

It is for this reason that God allows us to experience both the good and the bad in life so that as they work together, they make us more and more like Jesus. When we trust Him, even when we don’t fully understand what is going on, we know that He is working out His purpose and plans in our lives. He is joining the dots. Even in hardships and suffering, even in bitter disappointments, even when wrongly treated, Christians can know that God will work amidst such situations to fulfill His good purpose in His children.

Let us connect some dots with the personal story of the naked preacher.

THE NAKED PREACHER 

In 1980, we moved to America. During that year, I would spend one month in America and one month in Australia while I handed over our ministry to others.

Since we had left much of our personal belongings in Australia, each time I went back, I would take two large suitcases, one packed inside the other. Then, at the end of the trip, I would fill both suitcases with goods that we wanted to bring to America. In late September 1980, I decided to bring back some of my library books. I placed the two suitcases on the floor, spread my clothes out evenly in the two cases, and filled both bags with books. Together they weighed 230 lbs, but since there was no weight limit at that time, the airline accepted the heavy bags. A friend Scott McKinny drove me to the airport and helped me lug the heavy bags to the airline counter. After a long flight, I arrived in San Francisco, where I was to spend a night. At the airport, I called a nearby motel, and they sent a van to pick me up. It was not the greatest motel I had ever been in, and they required a cash payment for my room. I hauled the 230 lb bags up to the second-floor room, dumped my wallet, loose cash and camera on the table, and prepared to go to bed. I suddenly thought, “Where are my pajamas?” I couldn’t remember which bag they were in, and I remembered that they were somewhere under all those books. Besides which, I was tired, and I didn’t want to unpack right there and then. I just wanted to go to bed. So, I decided to go to bed like Eskimos do, without any clothes on. I was hot and sweaty after the long flight, and the next morning I planned to get up, shower, put on clean underwear, get dressed, and head back to the airport.

At about 5:00 a.m., I woke up with a start, alarmed to discover there was a man in my room. I realized it was too early for room service, and I quickly concluded it was a thief. Not being able to get the air conditioner working the night before, I had opened the window to get some fresh air. Somehow, he climbed up through the window, even though it was on the 2nd floor of the motel. My heart was pounding as I jumped out of bed. He saw me coming towards him, scooped up my wallet and cash, and headed for the door pursued by a naked preacher. Suddenly, I realized to my dismay that I was not dressed to chase a man around the motel, although a friend of mine commented later, ‘So what, it was San Francisco.’ Desperately searching for my trousers, I kept yelling, ‘Thief, Thief!’

This was clearly a ‘bad‘ situation. Here I was in another city, and somebody had taken all my money! But that is when the ‘good‘ started happening.

When I finally got them on, I ran out the door to the top of the stairs, where I was startled to see the thief at the bottom of the stairs flat on his face on the ground, being handcuffed by two policemen.

I couldn’t help but think, “What a wonderful country we have moved to. You call out ‘Thief, Thief’ and immediately the police are there!” The police asked my name and, after they checked my information, gave me back my wallet but kept the loose cash. After they arrested the man and took my statements, I returned to my room and had a praise meeting, thanking the Lord that He was there to rescue my stolen possessions. It was then that the Lord asked me a question, “Where were you last Sunday?” God, I find, likes to ask questions, even when He already knows the answer. I had a video replay in my mind. I was in a charismatic Methodist Church in Morwell, Victoria, Australia. Before the service, the pastor had asked me what scripture I would like him to read in the service as part of their liturgy. I mentioned that I was preaching from Isaiah 54:2-3 on ‘enlargement,’ so I suggested they read a few of those verses. Immediately though, I felt distinctly impressed of God to say, ‘No, read the whole chapter.’ The last verse, verse 17, reads, “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper.” It was then that the Lord spoke to my heart and declared, “What you read last Sunday, I have proved for you today!” Ever since then, this has been a special promise that I continually claim and have found to be true; that God would be there to protect me.

One little postscript. A few weeks later, in my daily devotions, I was reading through the book of Revelation when I was startled to read this verse, “Behold I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes on, lest he walk naked and be ashamed for all to see.” (Revelation 16:15) I didn’t know whether the Lord was rebuking me or giving me a word of practical wisdom. But no matter what, I wear my pajamas now, wherever I am.

Yes, all things work together for good. Out of this experience, good became evident, beyond the event itself.

  1. Isaiah 54:17 became a special promise for me to claim again and again. ‘No weapon formed against me shall prosper.”
  2. Out of it all, I developed a message on ‘Spiritual Warfare,’ that I have shared many times.

So, no matter what is happening in your life right now, connect the dots and trust that God will work all things together for good.