23 Jun Beauty from the mud…

Have ta give credit where credit is due.

I am well aware that God is not a genie who gives us everything we want. In fact, I know that terrible things can, and do, happen to His people. When I consider the span of church history—from Christians set aflame to light Nero’s roads, to scores of modern believers beheaded by ISIS—it’s obvious that this planet is not my ultimate Home.

But I believe that God is still, always, completely good. And sometimes He spoils us. Case in point?

For years the huge fir trees surrounding my family’s modest, Fox Island home have blotted out the lion’s share of sunshine.

During windstorms, broken branches crack tiles on our roof. Several winters ago one fir fell, bashing through the soil to land on our sprinkler system. The corner of our property sank, and our wooden retaining wall began to rot.

But in the past few days Jill and I have seen a minor miracle: insurance did not “ole” us. Rather, they ponied up to fix our wall. And ya know what else?

My yard is going to be level. Those big trees are being taken down. Friends like the Graysons have provided expert advice. After 12 years of windstorm anxiety, and tree shadows robbing warmth, God is “making all things new” for my brood.

And I see a metaphor.

I look at my son Michael’s long-ago cancer—something that nearly broke my psyche, my wife, and my marriage. I know God didn’t cause those tumors, but He certainly “worked [them] to the good (Romans 8:28).”

In hindsight, my Heavenly Daddy allowed me to be “scared straight” when I almost lost my boy. Now I get home from work to play with my kids. Now Jill and I go on regular dates. And that wasn’t the only seminal moment of my life, it was merely the latest. If I go back 22 years I see another example.

I consider how, in my early 20’s, advanced Crohn’s disease left me emaciated, and bleeding out while awaiting emergency surgery. I recall kneeling on the cold tile at Valley General Hospital, and rededicating my life to Christ. I begged for His help to leave behind the earthly pleasures that left my soul bereft of blessings.

For one of the few times in my existence, the “peace that passes understanding” came over me—a feeling that CS Lewis would call “dying peace.” Heaven wasn’t that far away, and I was blissfully ready to go There.

If I hearken back a half decade before that afternoon of nurses, doctors, and surgeons, I remember my childhood buddy dying in a car wreck.

Broke my heart.

Crushed his folks.

Though I wanted Jason to still be alive, the Lord used my friend’s passing to show me that my time on earth would one day end. I knew that I would eventually be lowered into the cold dirt at my own funeral.

And I wanted to be reunited with the Son, and Grandma Green, and my Far Far and Far Mor from Norway, who had all gone Home before me. So, days after Jason’s memorial, I asked Jesus into my heart to be my Lord and Savior. But that was all long ago.

Today the Father is still blessing me despite brokenness, or inconvenience… even through crumbling walls and falling trees.

Some people may look at my currently cruddy, backwoods backyard and say, “Wow, the poor Johansens.” I, however, see hope.

For much as the Father is soon to bless my family with revamped property, back in 1986 He reached into my brokenness and pulled me out of my despair.

What about you? Have you taken that step yet? Have you asked Him in? Or perhaps you just need to come back to Him. Maybe you’ll even pray to Him right now…

‘Cause you know what?

I’d love to spend eternity with you, in a place that the wreckage of this world will not—CANNOT—taint. No sin. No sorrow. No cancer. No Crohn’s. None. Nada.

Nothing bad.

Just peace and fun and fellowship.