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FEATURE STORY

Maybe it’s a southern saying, maybe it’s a nationwide saying, but I know it’s a saying that I hear so, so often. And I even say some version of it, myself.  Maybe we hear, “Oh, My God,” or simply, “Oh, My.”  It’s actually one of the first phrases 16 month old Camp said when he heard us say it.  Of course, it’s the cutest. 

Our pastor uses this phrase very often in his teachings, as he’s almost in tears, and it brings tears to my eyes as well.  It’s in a whole different context from what the rest of us mean when we use the phrase. But in all contexts, it seems to be expressing surprise. 

When we step outside and it’s extremely windy, we might exclaim, “Oh, my goodness,” and run back in for a hat.

If a baby spills or throws his food off his chair, a mom might express, “Oh, my goodness,” with a, “What have you done?” afterwards.

“Oh my goodness,” is what I say when something tastes really, really good, like ice cream encased in snow ice with Neapolitan syrup drizzle on top.

FEATURE - march 2024.jpg
photo courtesy of Doug Gephardt

But it’s not often that we hear folks exclaim, “Oh, my goodness” when referring to the love of God.  In fact, we more often hear folks look around at their circumstances and determine that God, in fact, is not good.  If he were, he wouldn’t allow this or that…

I grew up in the church and heard of Jesus’ death and resurrection every Easter and scattered throughout the year in sermons.  I was intrigued and moved; I repented, and thought it was awesome that Jesus conquered death.  And I hoped it was true, and then I moved on.  I went to church, I lived my life, and occasionally took communion (but only really enjoyed the wafers because I was hungry).  It wasn’t that I became numb to the story, but rather the story was weaved into all of the verses, the scriptures, the experiences, the ups and downs of life, and was just a thread…instead of the whole picture.

But in the past year or so, I’ve been looking again at the goodness of God, the plan God had from the beginning of creation, the love that started then and continues now, and the fact that Jesus’ sacrifice and willingness to obey his father was huge and THE central truth to my very existence.  I’ve found myself weeping at the love of God like I never have before.

“God is good” is something we often only say when things are going well.  But Jesus, God’s son, knew that God is good was who God was, not just a description.  God and Good equal the same.  Oh my goodness, He’s good. Try reading the first half of the following statements silently, then the second half out loud:

His mercies and compassion are new daily – oh, my goodness.

He so loved the world, every single person – oh, my goodness.

He never leaves us or forsakes us – oh, my goodness.

He works all things together (including that original sin and ours) for good – oh, my goodness.

He is for us, not against us – oh, my goodness.

His understanding is limitless, his hands are never short – oh, my goodness.

His burden is light and he carries all of mine – oh, my goodness.

He died, he died, he died…and holds the keys now so that I don’t have to die – OH, MY GOODNESS.

The goodness of God is all of the threads that hold this world together from imploding on itself and caving in and burying us all underneath.  The goodness of God, once we realize it was there before time and is still there now…and has never changed…should bring us to tears daily.  The privilege of communing and living and following a living God is good, it’s right. It’s life.

Every time our pastor teaches some sort of truth from the scriptures he’s reading, he’s taken aback and almost gasps when he reads, because he has studied, and has known that he belongs to the One that holds this man in all of God’s goodness that he wants each of us to experience – all of him.  He gave HIMSELF so that we can experience all the son experiences in his relationship with the FATHER.

Oh, my goodness. Or rather, should we say, “Oh, His goodness.”

If the Easter story doesn’t grab us anymore, or we rarely think of the goodness of God except to shake our heads at his apparent disinterest in our hard lives, and the only time we exclaim, “Oh my goodness” is at the small surprises of wind and spilled milk, then…

We’re missing it altogether.

The word goodness in the Hebrew means. “good in the widest sense” of the word. One could say that God is good to the furthest extreme.

 

Oh, my goodness.

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Oh My Goodness
by Marcy Lytle
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