God has a plan—there is no doubt about that, but can we mess up His plan? I mean we sin; doesn't that mess things up? Does Romans 8:28 really always apply? The Scripture says "to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." I mean don't we all try to "love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength." And aren't the Christians "the called according to His purpose?"
Growing up, I learned many things about the Bible in the church where I attended as a little girl. As I went into my teen years, my family changed churches, and I began to "grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour..." I learned many things that I had not learned in Sunday school. My view of the world changed, and I realized that God had a place for me; I knew that He would have me be the wife of a pastor or missionary (and I gladly surrendered to whatever God wanted from me in the future).
When I became sixteen, I realized that a job was in my future. Coming from a poor family, I desired to continue to attend the Christian school where my parents had enrolled us with some money my dad had received as a payout from an accident; but that money was gone now, and there was no way to pay the bill. I worked to pay my school bill, pay for a few personal items, and give my tithes and mission offerings.
While working, I met many people. One guy that I met, who I was pretty sure was not a Christian, asked me out on a date. After turning him down on a number of occasions, he asked me out in front of several people and pled his case as "going out on an innocent lunch date." My parents had no rules for me as far as dating; and, against my better judgement, I agreed. After it was settled, he told me that he would pick me up on Saturday afternoon for lunch; and he told me that he planned to ask me, while we were out, "why it had taken me so long to say, 'yes'."
Disclaimer here**I do not condone, or encourage, in any way, a Christian dating an unsaved person.*
The day of the date came; and although I had prayed all night that we would get too much snow to go out, he still arrived to pick me up. We had a nice lunch, and on the way home, he asked me the question that I had been running over again and again in my mind. I answered him simply, "Well, I am a Christian, and I believe that Christians should only marry Christians, and you should not date someone that you cannot marry."
His response was, "Oh, I know, unequal in yoke and all that stuff." In shock, I asked him where he had learned that; and he answered, "My grandma and aunt are always preaching to me." As I found out later, they were praying always for him too.
To shorten the end of an already long story, that guy got saved a few months later, after attending church every time the doors were open and realizing his need of salvation. He was called to preach a short time after that (I had never told him about what I thought God had for me in the future), and we were married about a year and a half later. As we went into missions, I bought him a new wedding band with a phrase from his favourite passage of Scripture (Ephesians 1:6, 12 & 14) imprinted on it. The passage says, "That we should be to the Praise of His Glory."
So what does this have to do with "All things working together for good?" I carried around a lot of guilt for a while for going out with him, and I can even remember thinking before he got saved—I am really messing this up. My point is that there was no question that I loved God and that He worked in spite of my human frailty. My husband has taught me so much, and I am a better Christian today because of his influence in my life.
The Bible also gives us examples like Jonah who ran from God; but after God used a fish to teach him a few things, I dare say that Jonah preached with more passion after the encounter with the fish than if he had never run from God in the first place. Then there was David. How could we ever see any good come from adultery, murder, a dead baby, and the many other consequences from his sin? Well, many have been comforted, encouraged, and helped over the years as they read David's heart in the Psalms as he repented and begged our Lord for cleansing and forgiveness.
PLEASE DO NOT get me wrong and think that I am trying to say that any mistakes or sin that we do is ok because God will "fix it." The Bible is clear in Romans 6:1 & 2 that we should not sin even though there is grace for when we sin. However, just a few chapters later in the end of Romans chapter 8, after he tells us that "All things work together for good..." He tells us that He is conforming us to the image of His Son (vs. 29), is justifying us (vs.33), is loving and keeping us (vs. 35), and that we are made "more than conquerors through him." (vs. 37)
My point is...when you sin or make a mistake, don't beat yourself—Satan and the spiritual wickedness in this world does enough of that. Ask for forgiveness, then seek to live holy as He is holy...and leave the "working it all for good" to Him. We cannot mess up His plan. He has it all under control!
By Sherrie Lester