What Good Is
Anxious and exhausted, I grabbed my journal and flopped on the bed. The room was quiet and neat, just what I needed before the harrowing week ahead.
Oh, the week. I’d failed miserably two years ago, and I shuddered as images filled my head. Forty international choral professionals. One world-renowned conductor. And me. Five days, five opportunities dreaded assignments to conduct. I cloistered myself in my room, studied, skipped meals, and stayed up until 2am conducting. Finally, with years of habit to unlearn and 2 nights to do it, my arms would not obey. Conducting patterns disappeared as I slipped and slopped my way through piece after piece. Jangled, disoriented and dismayed, I cried myself to sleep. The next day, terrified, tears seeped out of my eyes in front of the professor, and soon the whole class knew. I was falling, with no net.
Now those same terrifying days would stare me down again in just… twelve hours. My pen poured out my lament to God. “Please, Lord,” I wrote over and over, “I so want this class to be good. Can you intervene? Can you help?”
I remembered the terror, the panic, and the saving grace of a professor who understood and helped me. “Close your eyes,” she said, taking away my music. “You can do this.” I did, but only barely, and to this moment I felt some strange combination of thankful and mortified.
“Lord,” I whispered on paper, “I can’t do that again. Show me how to get through this, even if it only proves I’m not in the right place.” Two more woeful sentences and I turned the page, bracing myself for God’s reply.
“I know how important this is to you,” I heard. “It will be good, very good, but you don’t know what good is!”
Uhhh-what? I sat up straight, my back arched, ready to defend myself, but the Lord apparently wasn’t finished.
“Because of how you were raised, you think good means ‘good for you,’ as in ‘eat your liver and onions, they’re good for you.’ Or ‘put your sweater on, it’ll be good for you, you’re cold.’ I tilted my head, considering, when the Lord interjected again. “That’s not good,” He finished, “that’s ‘good for you!’ Let me show you what good really means!”
Stunning, simple, basic, but I’d never known.
He was right. Somewhere from my past, the lie had taken hold that “good” would never be pleasant, or worth anticipating. Instead it would be hard and aridly beneficial. I had plenty of beneficial already; I certainly did not want more.
He was also right about the week. I was still terrified and I still closed my eyes. But “the most sensitive interpretation of the whole class” took the place of “public failure.” The week sparkled with hope and enticing possibilities for the future.
“You are good. You are goo. You are good. You are good! And your faithfulness goes on forever…” We sang it again at church, and this time the words carried me straight to the heart of Jesus.
What about you? Can you believe God’s plans for you are truly good, or have you guarded your heart for fear of being disappointed?