The Handwriting on the Wall

Graffiti

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.

House graffiti

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:

  1. He protected us physically during the night it happened. Also, no property was harmed other than the damage caused by the paint.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.)
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The Handwriting on the Wall

  1. Wendy Bullatd

    I just want you to know how much I enjoy your blog! You are still encouraging me and Scott in our walk with the LORD after all these years. We are praying for you and Tina and know, no matter what comes into our lives, God is ALWAYS good! May God continue to bless you in mighty and unexpected ways ^.^

  2. Can I just say what a wonderful writer and man my husband is. 🙂
    And can I point out a few more blessings:
    1. God allows things in our lives that we can do nothing about so that we rely on Him more fully and draw closer to Him.
    2. God in His mercy has not allowed us to find out who or why this was done so that we would focus on telling others about Christ instead of who did this, why did he do this, what is his name, what did he look like etc. The only thing we can do is say we think it is the Scripture on our front gate: John 14:6.
    3. Can I tell you that I am thrilled it happened to us instead of our neighbors, that one just lost his wife, one is going through a divorce, and one was out of town. God is so merciful not to allow that. to happen to them so that they would not have more then they could deal with.
    God is so great, I am still praising Him for this.

    • Pat Teegarden

      I want you both to know how much I loved reading both the blog and the comment you made. You have been a inspiration to me and the blog was something I needed to hear today. Thanks Larry. Tina you are awesome in your own right. I’m proud and honored to say that I knew you when. I pray God continues to bless both of you in all you do.

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