by Grace Erickson
Jesus responded, “Why do you call me good? Only God is truly good. (Mark 10:18, TPT)
There is an illustrative story about a character encountering a progression of events, each seemingly worse than the last, yet in the end, these circumstances end up saving the character’s life. As each event unfolds, others say “that is bad” but our character consistently replies, “I don’t know if it’s good or bad but if it’s God, it’s good.”
The Mark 10 verse comes as a response to a rich man’s inquiry “Good Teacher, what one thing am I required to do to gain eternal life?” I love to mull on the Son of God’s response that only God is good. The whole encounter is Jesus giving His disciples and this man a lesson in perspective change. They cannot wrap their heads around the Kingdom in their current perspective.
Jesus then tells the man he already knows the command, yet here he is with this question. How does this change the passage, when we consider the only thing we know to be good is God? This teaching is radical, as it speaks to the law versus the gift of grace and the Holy Spirit. Our oneness with God reveals the good. It is not my own mind knowing, or my flesh doing. A change in my perspective allows me to see more of God, who is good, and therefore, I see more good.
Jesus closes with the famous role reversal passage: “But many who are considered to be the most important now will be the least important then. And many who are viewed as the least important now will be considered the most important then.” (Mark 10:31 TPT) The revelation that God is good is a prerequisite to going deeper into Kingdom knowledge. Revelation cannot be manufactured, but occurs in our spirit.
In January, I officially moved from South Dakota to Virginia. My boyfriend Anthony and I drove with our infant to South Dakota, and back to our home in Virginia. On our return trip, after 1,380 miles and 30 hours of total travel time, all I could think of was unwinding. But we had been following a severe winter storm since Kentucky, and as we passed through West Virginia, we learned there was a foot of snow accumulated at the house and no power. We were 40 minutes from the house when traffic became stop and go.
“Maybe we should stop here and get a hotel,” I suggested.
“We don’t need a hotel — we’ll make it home.”
I wasn’t so much worried about making it home as I was about the lack of hot water for the scalding shower I had been fantasizing about.
But make it home we did. Our daughter Autumn was crying to be fed at this point. As I sat in the front seat to feed her while the truck idled for heat, I became lost in my thoughts watching Anthony start up the skid steer and scoop the snow from the driveway. Conflicting emotions began to arise in me as I decided what to feel. I didn’t want to be upset, but I was. I was nervous thinking about how cold our once comfortable home had become after a full day without power.
I started running the what ifs, and with all this filling my thoughts, I began to identify the feelings of overwhelm. Alright, Jesus, what do I do here? There followed a very clear thought: What if this is an opportunity? Immediately I began to form a picture in my head of bonding together with our new little family: candles lit, eating a cold picnic of whatever we had available in the pantry and fridge, the three of us bundled up in blankets . . . maybe this was an opportunity!
One step into the house revealed this fantasy was impossible. Without a heat source, we wouldn’t be staying there with our baby. We could either sleep in the truck and wait until morning, drive another 10 minutes to family friends who had a propane heater and extra bedroom, or drive another half hour into Fredericksburg where Anthony’s parents lived and had power. Tensions were high as we headed to Fredericksburg. “I just didn’t want to have to leave the house,” he mumbled as we rolled out of the now clear driveway. I agreed. The last thing I wanted to do was put Autumn back in the car seat after two straight days of riding, but we couldn’t stay without heat, and I was so sore I couldn’t imagine sleeping another night in the truck.
Dodging downed trees and boulder-sized chunks of hardened snow, we turned onto the highway to Fredericksburg. We weren’t the only ones trying to make it to the city, and after a few miles, traffic came to a complete stop. The median on either side of the road was heavily wooded and packed with snow, and the line of cars before us stretched on and out of view. With no way out, my initial reaction was to panic. Were we about to be trapped on this road all night with an infant? How could I have gotten her into this mess? I’m supposed to protect her!
After half an hour, folks were leaving their vehicles to retrieve things from their trunks or backseats, and a few trudged past us attempting to get a better look at the situation ahead. Neither Anthony nor I spoke much. I didn’t want to voice any of my fears or worries. I started to self-soothe by telling myself at least we had water in the truck, at least we had lots of blankets, at least Autumn could be fed, at least I didn’t have to go to the bathroom (yet).
We sat there, unmoving, with a quarter tank of diesel fuel on the gauge, the snowbound trees and drifted ditches illuminated in the night with the reflections of a mile’s worth of parked vehicles. I had gotten Autumn out of her seat and clung to her as she slept in my arms. Some opportunity this was, but it was all I had to go on.
After almost two hours, I saw a car a couple dozen vehicles ahead of us turn left into the median — there was a turn around access! After an unbearably slow procession, it was our turn for freedom. We bumped along the snow packed roads back the way we came.
We went another two days without power, but any scenario seemed better than being trapped on that highway through the night. However, even if that had been the outcome, could I say it would be good? In the moment, my mind was mostly blank, but my heart was bated awaiting our outcome. Others who were out in that storm did endure overnights on the roads or didn’t have anywhere else to stay or were in emergency situations where responders couldn’t reach.
It was an opportunity to say I don’t know if it was good or bad, I just knew that it was God, so it was good.
This article first appeared in Volume 15.
|Grace is a writer, mother, poet, herbalist, gardener. She has been writing stories since she could put two words together. She is a South Dakota farm girl living with her family in Virginia. Grace counts her day-to-day with Jesus as the most valuable.|