If you were to ask me about my favorite time of year, in a heartbeat I would tell you it was fall. It’s true and I know it and I can tell you all the reasons why.
But ask me to narrow it down, require me to be more precise and ask me my favorite time of day, and I would hesitate: sunrise or sunset? The opening or the closing? The anticipation of what’s to come or the proclamation of what has been done?
It’s not the rhythm of a day’s events that particularly holds me. No, it will always and forever be the sky that stops me and astounds me. It’s the sky that will make me pull over and grab my phone every single time I see it light up.
I can trace this love affair back to an evening in 2007 when my soul was in pieces and my faith was in splinters. I walked the streets of our neighborhood, broken and angry and so, so sad. Question after question spilled out of my mouth. I could do nothing to stop them anymore from rattling around inside.
There were so many of them, too many to count. But one I do remember was this: Does it really have to be this hard?
I hadn’t had questions like this before; I hadn’t had wrestling matches with God before. When I think about it now, I see the lie and the accusation that lay in the pain beneath the question. Digging deeper was the whisper of a question: I thought you were good though . . .
That thought will do a number on your soul if you let it. That one will be a hinge on which your whole spiritual life turns, should you let it.
Is God good? Sure, He’s in control and all powerful and present everywhere, but beneath the whole of it, is He good?
What I couldn’t believe was how goodness and pain could coexist. I couldn’t see how a good God could let me walk a hard road. And so I asked Him the question about goodness, and I felt a nudge in my soul so ferociously that I turned around, sure it was a physical touch. Instead, the sky was ablaze. Oranges and pinks and blues faded into purples and reds over and above me and around me. It wasn’t a sunset you see, it was a sunset you experience.
I asked God if He was good and the sky lit up.
Since then, I’ve begun to pay attention to the sky and notice the questions rattling around in my heart right before a particularly soul-grabbing sunset. And a theme has emerged: it all has to do with where I believe I can find goodness. Is it out there? Or is it here, now?
Turns out, I tend to chase what I think is the good life, the abundant life — believing it is always around the next corner, that it has to look a certain way, fit within a certain puzzle, function within a certain mold. Believing it’s a certain body type, a certain bank account, a certain ease and comfort level, to be honest. Anything else too difficult immediately threatens to throw me off course.
There was something I learned that night in 2007 and as recently as yesterday. I hear the Lord saying, Can’t you see, dear one? Goodness is here. It’s right here.
It’s about as basic as it gets, yet it pivots my spiritual life in the gentlest and truest way, one day at a time, toward wholeness and abundance. Goodness is here. Goodness has and always will be right here. Now that I’ve dismantled the lie that the hard life and the good life can’t be the same, I’ve discovered that even on the hard road, goodness is there, too.
Each morning I ask God to show me His extravagant goodness and His abundant generosity. The Psalms remind us that the Lord is good, that He is generous with His love, that He is loyal always and ever (Psalm 100:5 MSG). What you seek is what you will find, as it turns out.
And so let me tell you this: I have become a seeker of the abundant life, the good life. I have learned to find goodness everywhere and to find it now. I find goodness in new friendships and brave moments. I find goodness in doing a puzzle on the floor with my kids. I find it in turning back again and again to Jesus, abiding in the One that leads to the free and light life no matter what is going on around me. I find it in having people in my home and walking through a park and doing something I never thought I could do. I see goodness in belly laughs and dinner around the table and imaginations.
And every time I see a sunset, every single time, it stops me in my tracks as I remember: It’s everywhere. Goodness is all around us. It’s here now, and it’s all such a wonder.
Even on the hard road, goodness is present. - Sarah Sandifer: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Michele Morin says
“The heavens declare the glory of God” — and His goodness! Thank you for putting this glorious truth on display, Sarah!
Sarah Sandifer says
They really do! Trying more and more to have the eyes to see. xo
Beth Williams says
Life down here is tough. There is so much sickness, divisiveness, hatred, etc. This world screams you can have it all & you deserve the best. More money, bigger house, etc. We tend to buy into that lie. We scurry around trying to achieve that & when we don’t/can’t we feel like life is hard. In the midst of our trying it seems almost impossible to see God’s goodness. It is there right there on display daily. Look at the beautiful mountains, snow falling, sunsets/sunrises. He shows His beauty & goodness daily. We miss the simplicity of His love & forget what He did for us. Time we slowed down & took a look at the sky & our surroundings. We will see His goodness in everything.
Blessings 🙂 Merry Christmas
Sarah Sandifer says
My goodness, Beth, you said it so well. It is so easy to get distracted, isn’t it? Glad for the gentle nudgings that he gives us to re-orient our gaze back to him. Merry Christmas to you, my friend!
Subi Wilks says
So often I forget the simple truth that not only can I make requests of God (we already have so much!), but He wants and directs me to! “Show me Your goodness today” will be on my lips frequently in the coming days. Thanks for the reminder.
Sarah Sandifer says
He really does answer that prayer so generously and kindly. Can’t wait for him to knock your socks off. 🙂
Becky Keife says
I love that God spoke to your heart through a display of His beauty! I hear Him best and see His goodness most on a mountain trail. His goodness is here, indeed!
Sarah Sandifer says
He does seem louder out in the wilderness, doesn’t he? Hope you get to experience him there soon. 🙂
Emily B. says
Thank you, Sarah! I love the sky, and God’s given me a glorious sky when I’m feeling down, too. Thank you for that last word in your second-to-last paragraph: imaginations. I have an over-active imagination, and most of the time it feels inconvenient: it’s the reason I don’t get to bed until 1am or the reason I zone out in class. Sometimes it also produces scenarios that God has shown me aren’t good for me to be dwelling on, such as characters’ pain or fear. We’ve been working together on imagining healthy storylines, but something He’s been reminding me (and I forget over and over) is that He was the One to give me my imagination and that it’s a good thing when used correctly. This whole devotion has been so true and applicable to me, but I think God had you put in the word ‘imaginations’, because I almost started crying when I read it. God is always good, even when we can’t tell!