I have wanted to write about this for a while, but I finally gave in. I have an admission to make: whenever I put on something my wife bought for me, people always comment and say how nice it is, yet whenever I put on something I picked: crickets. The verdict is out: she probably knows what looks good on me better than I do.
I own a good number of grey shirts. And on any day, that is probably what I would like to wear. When I got engaged, my wife got me a couple more, and she also got a purple one. Well, okay. Cool. But she also has since then taken over the role of getting me all pieces of clothing, which I have always liked. She has some taste.
What is crazy about it all though, I honestly get actually people commenting on what I am putting on mostly when I am putting on something she got me. And this has always made me be thankful and appreciate her sheer sense of style in general, but in particular when she directs her prowess at me and I get all these compliments. Just today (which would be yesterday by the time I publish this), I reluctantly put on a shirt she got me, and at least 10 people said something about it! Just to be clear: I love the clothes she gets me, but I do not think about her sense of style is way better than average and works better than my own until I actually hear feedback from a myriad of people! And it made me reflect and God reminded me of something greater than a cool shirt.
The New Testament uses the idea of adornment to talk about being in a relationship with Jesus. Paul seems to actually talk about our union with Christ in terms of "putting on Christ" like we would put on clothes. Galatians 3:27 reads, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." This is talking about that initial work of salvation. But this imagery is also used to talk about the ongoing work of transformation we go through as we seek to be more like Christ and kill sin in our lives. Paul instructs believers to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Rom 13:14).
As God works in our lives, one of the things he uses to make us more and more like Christ is actually inconveniences and trials of various kinds. “Through many tribulations, we must enter the kingdom ” (Acts 14:22). “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). In fact, it clear through the Scriptures that suffering always makes God's people better and God's purposes clearer. Remember Job? Having suffered for a long time, Job finally says to God, “I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees thee”.
To be clear, this goes beyond the Coronavirus pandemic: I am talking about any inconvenience you face in your life — you need to take it on fully knowing that God has a greater purpose for it, regardless of whether you see it or not. It is easy to see what this aftermath of this virus would be. I predict the Church is going through a season of growth, and helpful discomfort that when we get back together, we will never see things or do things the same. But I want you to think of all those other little things that are "thrown your way". The car broke down. The power was cut by the winds. Your spouse is annoying you. Your kids are talking back at you. Do you see these very things? They are not beyond God's purpose. He uses then to strip us off things that take away from us being conformed to the image of His Son. He uses them to reveal our idols and helps us to progress.
I remember the first time I listened to John Piper talking about embracing suffering the first few times I wrestled with this subject — man it messed with my mind, but it made sense to me not only from the Scriptures but experientially too. God has been clearer to me through the downs more than the ups. The ups blind me. My heart is fickle. I do not choose the downs, but when they come, I know their goal: for my good.
But what does all this have to do with my wife? Well, I think I know deep inside of me that she has a better sense of fashion than most people I know, yet I do not readily think of it that way, or think of how good this is for me, or how blessed I am to have her when she gifts me something (that I sometimes do not even see as the best). Same thing we do with God. We know He is eternal and knows way better than all of us and He is good. But when He allows us to go through rough spots and situations in life, we do not readily think of how good this is for us, or how blessed we are to have Him (especially when we do not even see the goodness in the situation).
When people eventually look at us, as we pursue the Lord, drench ourselves in the Scriptures and prayers, and love people around us, they begin to see how cool a "style" we have on. And that style is not something we readily saw, because we cannot see like God does. Just like I cannot see as Brittany does. If mere human beings like my lovely wife could make choices for other mere human beings like myself, and praise comes out of it, what more can a perfect God do on our behalf if we trust Him in the circumstances we go through — no matter how big or small. What praise and glory would be due to Him through the faith we exude and hope we have as we trust Him in each and every situation.
But I am a stubborn Shona man, and this blogpost will in no way make me less stubborn when she suggests the next piece of clothing. Just like you are towards God. You believe all this, but are stubborn just like me. So, maybe I just gave you something to think about whose point is: God has a better style than you. Let him choose how to adorn you with character. He will do it way better. Do not be stubborn like me. I will also try to not be stubborn like you are.
Back to quarantine.