A vandal took a can of blood red spray paint a few nights ago, and scrawled on the walls of our home a love letter from God.
I’m quite sure God and love were the furthest things from his mind as he assaulted the front and both sides of our 168-year-old house with his graffiti. And I must confess, God and love were not my first thoughts when I discovered it the next morning.
But after the shock, the anger, the fear, the sense of violation and injustice subsided, it became perfectly clear that the handwriting on the wall was God’s.
Not that He caused it, but that He took something man clearly meant for bad, and turned it into good.
“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).
God has a way of doing that. He was in the recycling business long before it was cool. He takes things that are diabolical, diseased, distressed, depressed, deprived, disgusting, discarded, dying, dead. He takes them and salvages them into something good, glorious, golden, great, grand, gleaming, gainful, gracious, godly.
He did it with my life.
And He’s done it in my life—over and over. The graffiti on the wall is just the latest example (more later about how He’s done that). But there have been many other times. Take for example the time the Southern Baptist Convention voted to merge the agency I worked for with another organization, effectively eliminating my job. We were distraught. Angry. No evil intended, I’m sure, but it felt that way. Yet a month later I was working at a church in the perfect position, a position that later helped me launch my own ministry. God meant it for good.
It’s no secret that our daughter Ginger was conceived out of wedlock. And the Planned Parenthood office offered to help us “take care of it.” Evil. Now we have not one but two wonderful daughters and two sons-in-love who love the Lord. Glorious.
I could go on and on. But I wanted to write specifically about how God has acted in this latest instance with the vandalism. Here are just a few of the ways He took a bad situation and produced good for us and glory for Himself:
- He protected us physically during the night it happened. Also, no property was harmed other than the damage caused by the paint.
- We have met and strengthened relationships with neighbors. Some have been in our home for the first time, and we’ve been in their homes for the first time. We bless the Lord for these important steps as we have been trying to reach our neighbors for Christ during our five years here. Hopefully, they have seen a peace and attitude through all this that points them to Christ.
- Prayers have gone up for the individual(s) who did it. They may never have been prayed for otherwise. (By the way, we have no idea who would have done something like this. There are are no words or symbols, only scribbling. The police think it was probably random.)
- We have been depending on God and His grace more during this time, spending more time with Him, focusing more on Him—things He wants all of the time.
- Pending the final decision by our insurance company, we may get our entire house painted for the cost of our insurance deductible. (Of course, our gain is the insurance company’s loss, and ultimately all of us pay for vandalism through higher premiums.)
- We have received encouragement and blessings from so many friends and neighbors, many of whom have graciously offered to come and help us clean up the mess.
- We—and others—have been reminded again of how God takes bad things and recycles them for good.
I’m quite convinced that nothing happens to us that God doesn’t allow. And if we can just be patient and wait for Him to do His work, we will see how it becomes something good. 100% of the time.
It reminds me of a story about a woman who was driving late one evening through a strange town when her car died in a neighborhood where you don’t want to be alone at night. It was raining hard and very dark, and as she sat inside her car trying to decide what to do , she noticed a large man walking towards her car. She didn’t like the looks of him and locked the doors. He walked past the car, looked inside at her, and then turned back around. She didn’t want to look up, but he tapped on the window. She ignored him, focusing her attention on her cell phone. He knocked harder on the window and was talking to her, but she tried to tune him out and the rain was so hard she couldn’t hear anyway. He began to pound on the window and rock the car, screaming at her, and she began to panic and cry out. Finally, the man picked a stone and broke out the window of her car, reached inside the car, grabbed the door latch, and flung open the door. The woman screamed and fought as the man grabbed her and dragged her out of the car, both of them falling to the rain-soaked pavement. Just then, a locomotive screeched by on the rails, only a few feet away from the man and woman, as the car bent around the front of the train and slid sideways down the track. The woman’s car had stalled on the train tracks. The man was trying to save her life.
How often do we claw and fight our way though life as things happen to us. Some, evil things caused by evil people. Some, trials engineered by God to make us stronger. Some, temptations crafted by Satan to make us stumble. Some, consequences of the sinful choices we make ourselves. Yet in each case, God can take the bad thing and turn it into something good.
He did it for Joseph in Genesis 50 (click here for an excellent message about this from my pastor, David Prince). He’s done it for me. He will do it for you. Just look for the love letter from Him. It can show up in the most unexpected places.