About a week ago I received a text from Mom. It read:

Phillipians 4:6-7 because James 1:2 and Hebrews 12:7 therefore we I Thessalonians 5:18 knowing and trusting Romans 8:28-30.

Don’t you get texts from your mother like that? Really? Just me? My response was nothing short of brilliant. It read something like “huh?” Sadly I only had a vague recollection of a couple of the verses. This was clearly going to require a phone call and possibly a dunce cap. 

So, after a brief chat I learn that Mom was listening to a sermon. This was supposed to be the topic. The preacher sort of went off topic. She was being cryptic because while she thought it was pretty clever to package a sermon this way, as she read them together she thought maybe it was going down a predestination off ramp. Why she texts me and not Al Colley I just really don’t understand. This is officially above my pay grade, education, and well basically straight up over my head. My brain can’t handle free will verses omniscience. I did however promise to read over it and chat with her later.

I started by reading through the verses then reading again trying to pay attention to the context of each individual verse. This is no small task for my feeble little mind. I was taking notes. The notes became a blog post. The blog post became a manifesto. Did I mention I can easily be consumed by things? So I wrote, prayed and read. One of the things that kept striking me in the beginning was this image that I’ve seen floating around…

Then I decided that I really needed to understand the context of I Thessalonians 5:18, “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I don’t like reading verses like this. I don’t like talking about verses like this. They make me uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable because when I read a verse like this it makes me want to ask…

  • Was it God’s will for my dad to die before he got to meet his grandchildren?
  • Was it God’s will for Jack to be left at 5 months old in a back alley?
  • Was it God’s will for me to carry a baby for 19 weeks only to find out she was gone?
  • Was it God’s will for my brother to die leaving his mother to pick of the pieces?
  • Is it God’s will for Ned to have cancer and be forced to take medication that makes his life and my mother’s life a living hell?

Notice that I’m selfish and all those things hit pretty close to home for me but I know other people who have it much much worse. I think we live in a fallen, broken world. It’s hard. It’s horrible. It is awful. It freaking hurts. I think that even though we live in that fallen broken world God can make good come out of it through us. I think that was the point of my mother’s text. I’m also getting away from the point I wanted to make in the blog post… because you know it’s all about me and my manifesto.

So I wrote. I called Mom and I became concerned. The last verse was bugging me. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I started researching the history of Romans. Why was this letter written. I needed answers people. Do you know for an entire day I read Romans 8:28-30 wrong. Every time I read it,  I read the wrong thing. I completely changed it. 

28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

I read “To those working according to his purpose.” I read it that over and over. I kept thinking, but what am I doing right now for God? Am I truly working for His purpose? It bothered me. I couldn’t sleep. I discussed it with Mom. I’m thinking I need to got back and read James. Then suddenly I just open it back up and read it again. What? Called according to his purpose not working to His purpose. 

All this to say… I think Mom sent the text to the wrong person. Good grief!  My head hurts. Someone please call Al Colley and let him go over it with her.