Thursday, March 01, 2012

God's Goodness

(Note- I'm using Lent and Easter Wisdom from Thomas Merton as my Lenten devotional this year. I'll be blogging the journaling prompts most days.)

(The saint) is united to God by the depths of his own being. He sees and touches God in everything and everyone around him. Everywhere he goes, the world rings and resounds (though silently) with the deep harmonies of God's glory. ~Seasons of Celebration, p. 137

How has God been good to you?

God has been good to me in so many ways, but I find the most helpful way to understand God's goodness to me is by realizing how God is giving me opportunities to be good to others.

I've been very fortunate in life. More fortunate than most people.

I know I'm supposed to use the word "blessed" when I'm talking about the good things in my life, but I feel like that implies that others aren't blessed if their children aren't healthy like mine are, or they didn't have the opportunity to go to the kind of schools I did. Maybe that's just semantics, but since my call is to help people know who God is, I feel like I need to be very aware of how the things I say can affect people's perceptions of who God is.

I have to confess that I get more than a little agitated when I hear other white, relatively well off males brag about how their success in life is all their doing, that no one gave them anything along the way, that they are entirely "self-made", and therefore have no obligation to help others.

Whenever I hear that kind of talk, I want to sarcastically ask, "so you breastfed yourself when you were a baby?"

The truth about me and anyone else who considers themselves successful is that we're the beneficiaries of those who gave tremendous gifts to us. Whether its parents who raised us, teachers who gave us valuable life lessons, clergy who instilled us with values, or anyone else, no one gets to a place of success (in the world's eyes, at least) truly "on their own".

So one of the biggest ways I see God's goodness to me is in terms of how it gives me opportunities to be good to others.

I've had the opportunity to go to very good schools, so that gives me a responsibility to impart knowledge to others.

I have more than my share of financial resources, so I have the responsibility to share with others. I have the opportunity to consume far more than my share of the world's resources (and I routinely do), so I have the responsibility to cut back and conserve as much as I can so more is available for others who don't have the kind of ready access that I do.

Jessica and I are very fortunate to have a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship with one another, and loving supportive families. We have two children who are healthy and, from early indications, seem to have the potential to develop high abilities and aptitudes. That gives us the responsibility to freely share all the love we receive, and to raise our girls to be people who understand their tremendous responsibilities because of the good fortune that they have had.

God has been very good to me through others who have created the opportunities and advantages I've had in life. Therefore, I have the responsibility of passing on what I've been given and of making the world a better place for others, just as it was made a better place for me.

I believe that doing that is a deeper act of praise than any words or songs ever could be.

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