God is good…when, exactly?

Not quite ready for this.

I went to Goodwill yesterday to drop off a bunch of stuff, which is not unusual. I don’t have a basement, and that makes for good stewardship of stuff if you don’t want to live in piles (I don’t, not all the time).

At Goodwill, the worker who helped me with my giant bin of clothes commented on my car, which is also not unusual. I drive a Nissan Leaf, a totally electric car. I get asked about it probably weekly, and have extensive conversations with people who are thinking about getting one. I love talking about it because it’s one of the best things we’ve done financially this year, plus I get to drive a nicer car than I’ve EVER driven before.

So I talked to the worker about it for a little while.

“How much gas does it use?”
“Not a bit.”
“When’s the last time you got gas?”

The worker said, “Wow, man.”

And then he looked at the car, and said, offhandedly, “God is good.”

And I said without thinking about it, “All the time.”

He looked at me with surprise and said, “That’s right!” as I got in the car and drove away.

Here’s the thing….theologically, I think this is true. I have a bit of a Stephen King mixed with Paul Tillich plus Richard Rohr theology about this: God is the ground of all being (Tillich), and so can support and encompass all things good and evil. Everything belongs (Richard Rohr), and so all things good and all things evil will eventually return to the good that is God. And that God is good, but God is cruel sometimes (Stephen King), meaning that all things work for good, but terrible things happen in the process that we can’t understand, because we didn’t make the world.

All that aside, it felt really good to say back to the guy, “All the time,” even if it was about my ridiculous car.

I tend to overthink things, as many of us do. And I get weirded out by being a Christian sometimes…by publicly taking on that label with all its baggage and assumptions. I get really uncomfortable with phrases like that, because I DO over think it! IS God good, all the time? It’s not in the Bible. It’s not in the basics of Christian faith. It’s just a phrase from a praise band. But there’s something about it, something like a liturgy, that’s really satisfying, even if I’m not sure I believe it all the time.

And maybe that’s the very definition of God. The GOOD that we see in the world, in ourselves, in others. God IS good.

All the time? I’m working on it, with the help of the prophet that I met at the Goodwill.


One thought on “God is good…when, exactly?

  1. I read this blog post when it was first published and remember thinking, really? God is good is not in the Bible? Really? It seems like something that would be in the Bible right up there with God is love. That’s in the Bible, right? Gospel of John, right?

    Anyway, I really wanted to spend some time thinking about this post because it did take me by surprise. How is this not in the Bible yet spoken or written all the time? I can totally relate to the caption under the woman in the t-shirt picture, “Not quite ready for this.” Especially now that I know it’s not in the Bible. Does that mean that God isn’t always good if it’s not in there?

    I’ve never read or studied Tillich or Rohr and have only read one Stephen King novel – I’m assuming you’re talking about the Stephen King from Maine who is probably at this very moment blissfully happy (as am I) that the Red Sox are World Series champs – but the way that you weave the three together have me thinking, ok, that makes sense, I can get on board with that. (If that’s not the Stephen King you’re thinking of, please don’t shake your head too much and forgive my naïveté. LOL) Terrible things do happen and I think it’s natural to want to know why or how they happen when we want to believe that God is good. At least I want to believe that.

    Like you I overthink things. This is my natural state – just ask my husband. I can get analysis paralysis very easily – hence part of the reason it’s taken so long to comment. But I agree, it does feel good to believe that God is good – or at least that all things work for good (isn’t that in the Bible somewhere?). Since you published this post, I’ve been looking for things in my life to make me think one way or another about that phrase – God is good. Unfortunately all that seems to keep popping up is the debacle of the federal health care exchange website rollout and the testimonies on Capitol Hill so lately I’ve been thinking I sure hope God is good and that He will figure out a way to make this work for good because whether you’re a fan of Obamacare or not, I think America needs it to work.

    But all the time? Maybe. Eventually. I hope the Goodwill prophet is right.

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