Jimmy’s Table PodcastCuriously evangelical. Politically homeless. A dreamer of small things. On this podcast, I am having conversations about the intersection of faith, life, and culture.

God’s Been Good To Me – Episode #138

Blue Ridge Parkway

In church a preacher will often say “God is good...” to which the congregation will reply, “…all the time.” And then the preacher will echo back “And all the time…” to which the congregation will respond “…God is good.” In today’s podcast, I look to explore the idea that God is fundamentally good, especially when the circumstances of our lives make us think God is not good.

Taste And See That The Lord is Good

In the Bible one of the things we are told about God, is that God is “good.” We are told, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

This invitation is for us to move beyond abstract speculation about the nature of God, and to instead pull up a chair to the table and to actually experience God for who He. Taste! And see that the Lord is good.

We could attempt to define what it means to say that God is “good.” It’s a simple word that is among the first we probably ever learned to say as children. We could try to define the word “good” with a dictionary, but I think if you look it up (either in English, Hebrew, or Greek), you’ll get a wide variety of definitions that are strangely vague and non-specific.

Which is why I think the Bible invites us to taste and see that the Lord is good. It’s an invitation to be engaged with God in a way that isn’t merely philosophical and abstract. The Bible wants us to experience the goodness of God in the same way we bite into a delicious cheeseburger that leaves juices dripping down our hands when we bite into it.

Goodness isn’t something you define. It’s something you experience. Goodness is something we can literally sink our teeth into. Goodness is an experience that pervades our very being whenever we run into it. Goodness is what causes you to bite into a burger and say “Yes! That right there! I can’t wait to have another bite of that!”

No wonder in the gospels Jesus calls Himself the Bread of Life. Bread is one of the most basic foods that have sustained human civilization. It’s something that not only fills us up, but there are few foods that can be so simple, yet satisfying and good. Whether it’s a hearty sourdough bread with its crusty exterior, or the unlimited breadsticks at Olive Garden, we love consuming bread and getting it inside of us, because there’s just something about bread we find so amazingly good. And here stands Jesus, inviting us to His table, to eat His bread, and to fill up on Him.

When We Doubt God’s Goodness

Of course, there could be some things in our lives that threaten this very notion that God is good. Live long enough, and as I like to say, “life happens.”

Trials and temptations come our way. Terrible things that we never could even imagine somehow unfold. Our hearts are crushed, our lives upended, leaving us at times feeling like we are hanging on merely by a thread.

Some awful things in life happen that cause us to doubt the goodness of God. Indeed, things happen that might even cause us to be suspect of the entire notion that God is good, and might even put us in a place where we feel angry with God because we feel God isn’t so good afterall.

Friend, if this is you, let me tell you, I understand how you feel. I’ve been there a time or two in my life. I know what it’s like to not have enough money to pay the bills and to go bankrupt. I know what it’s like to have life threatening medical issues. I know what it’s like to suffer injustice. I know what it is like to be childless. I know what it’s like to be betrayed. I know what it’s like to lose loved ones. I know what it’s like to go through divorce.

And all by the ripe old age of 39.

Where We See God’s Goodness In Full Display

Yet in all these things, I can’t help but be drawn to the cross of Jesus Christ.

For all the horrors that may fill our lives and this world, I can’t go but feel there was never a more horrible day in all of history in that which Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh, was tortured to death and ultimately slaughtered.

Yet, for all the horrors of the cross, we as Christians look at the cross of Jesus Christ as the greatest thing to ever happen. For in it Jesus Christ took our place, bore all our sin, all our shame, and all our sorrows. He took upon Himself all that is wrong with this world, a world so hell bent on evil that it crucified its creator, and gave up His life so that in His cross He could make all things new.

And it is in the cross of Jesus Christ that we ultimately see the goodness of God in full display. It is there where all the wrongs and horrors of this world have gone to die with Christ, where God triumphs over ever devilish force that’s ever existed, and where a new creation can begin to take place.

I think our failures to see God as good is because we start looking at all the bad in the world and in our lives instead of keeping our gaze on the cross.

It’s ultimately at the cross of Jesus Christ that we see that God is not only good, but that God’s been good to me.

Serving God Because He Is Good

And when you understand that God is good, and that God’s been good to you, that this begins to impact the way you live your life.

Throughout my comings and goings in my adult life, I’ve had plenty of moments of weakness in my faith. I’ve not been a perfect person. But overall, I’ve attempted to follow the Lord in all that I do. God’s been good to me, and I want to live a life that I know that honors Him.

But in this, there’s been moments of great temptation. There’s been times where other options looked better to me in the moment than following Jesus. Things I knew I could do and probably get away with, or to take actions that others would applaud but I knew would dishonor God.

But I’ve found there were some things I simply couldn’t do. Places that no matter how tempting, I simply couldn’t do those things, lest somehow I’d deny Christ in my actions. They are bridges I could not cross and roads I simply couldn’t travel.

Flirt with various temptations, I’ve surely done. But when opportunity came to pull the trigger, I simply couldn’t. Something in me would just stop.

And I am compelled to not do these things, because God’s simply been too good to me. And being a Christian for over twenty years now, and tasting and seeing how good God is, I simply feel compelled by God’s goodness towards me to keep on the straight and narrow way of life He calls us all to live.

The life I live, and the things I do and don’t do, are all from a spirit that responds to the beauty of God and His ways, and the delight they bring to my soul.

It’s like taking a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway in the mountains of North Carolina. You take that road, not because it’s the most effecient means of driving through the mountains, but because it’s the most scenic. And sometimes you just come to an overlook on the side of the road that forces you to pull over, and marvel over the beauty of everything you can see. A goodness and beauty that will literally stop you in your tracks.

That’s what it’s like to follow Jesus.

God Has Done Me No Wrong

In closing I want to recall a story about a man named Polycarp.

Polycarp was an early Christian martyr from the first century.

The Romans captured him and threatened to burn him at the stake unless he renounced his faith in Christ.

Polycarp responded “86 years have I have served him, and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”

Sometimes we are tempted to not serve God, and to do awful things, and to deny Him in the way we live. Sometimes awful things in our lives invite such temptations. And our escape looks easy.

Polycarp refused such an escape.

Polycarp saw how good God had been to him, and chose to serve God anyway.

Because when you get a taste of the goodness of God and what He’s done in your life, you simply can’t imagine living any other way.

Polycarp surendered his life that day.

He saw something amazing beyond the flames that threatened to consume him.

When I tell others why I follow Christ, and choose to to live a certain way, I’m simply reminded of how good God is, how good He has been towards me, and I often hear the echo of this story finding its way into my heart.

I was thinking of this today as I reflected on some situations I’ve faced in my life over the years. God’s been good to me. And that directs the steps I take. Imperfect as I can be, I still keep walking according to the goodness I’ve seen.

How can I do any other? God has done me no wrong. God has been nothing but good towards me.

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