“All” is a great word throughout Scripture.
“I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
“ALL things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than ALL we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout ALL generations, for ever and ever!” (Ephesians 3:20, 21)
It was a peaceful trip until….all of a sudden, we heard a loud rumbling sound and the car started shaking. “What the Heck?!!”Tanner yelled at the top of his lungs as I looked back into the rearview mirror and saw our front tire bouncing down the highway. I was traveling 75 miles per hour in the left lane, and our tire had totally detached from the wheel. I quickly diverted oncoming cars and pulled over to the side. We made it to the roadside and it seemed incredibly quiet after the noises from the car and shouts from Tanner.
Long story short, help would be on it’s way “within an hour”. So we had some time to sit in the car. I got out my pen and little notebook, and as I talked with Tanner about how thankful I was that we were okay, I started thinking about that verse again. “Count. It. ALL. JOY.”
And I started writing. “count”….one to one correspondence…each… “All…every single solitary thing.” Here’s a photo of my little list…
I work with young students who can struggle with counting. One to one correspondence is a crucial skill for students to learn to accurately and truly count, for so many times, they will lump counters together and miss the “each” part. It’s imperative to count each item. So, I decided, I’d really try to count “EACH” bit of the “ALL” in this situation. I’d separate it and acknowledge it…joyfully? Well, I’d at least try.
I was doing real well, at first at least. The mechanic came and said he could help us and was really impressed that we were okay after he saw where the tire was on the highway and where we were. He started working and I thought, “Yep, I can count this as joy. I can have a good attitude…”
And then, “Ma’am?”
“Ma’am, I can’t loosen this lugnut. It’s just not going to budge.” I might just need to tow you to the nearest garage to have it worked on. Well, my wheels were turning then as I realized it was Sunday night and just before 6:00, and that there were probably very few places open. Frustration was rising for sure. But my son was watching and listening, and I was very aware that how I responded really mattered. We had prayed in the car not just for us but for the mechanic and the situation, and I knew that it was time to truly count it ALL joy.
Right about that time, as I was standing on the side of a busy interstate with a mechanic, we saw a large blue work truck riding down the road, beeping it’s horn loudly as the driver waved his arms. “Well, I think they’re coming for us”, the mechanic smiled. Long story short, they were. It was a new state program that helped stranded travelers (a.k.a. me and Tanner) with their vehicles. And guess what? They had a machine, you know, like the one NASCAR uses, to loosen the lug nut. JOY. Pure Joy.
As the mechanic and I waited for the newest ‘crew’ to fix the tire, I showed him my “Count. It. All. Joy.” list. As I pointed to the word “ALL”, I said, “I think lugnut goes right about here…” And as I remember his smile I can’t help but think we all felt Joy. Pure Joy.
So, “ALL”? It’s a word that is ALL-encompassing. The “Counting it ALL joy” includes immovable lugnuts and pancreatitis and diversions in our days. It includes heart-aches and sickness, and bills and broken things. It includes ALL the nitty gritty details of our lives. And what gives us the JOY? The inviting God to be in ALL of it with us. WITH us. And He takes the brokenness, and the diversions, and the struggles…and fills the void with HIMSELF. He fills the voids as we invite Him in and carries us in ways that we couldn’t imagine, and that truly brings joy. Surprising, beautiful joy! ALL joy…
Oh, and an addendum to the story? Remember the pancreatitis? Well, its onset was the catalyst for some very really changes in my son’s life. For the cause, the very thing which brought on the pancreatitis in my son’s life…is now gone. Gone. And I am so counting it all joy. I’m thanking God even for pancreatitis and how He can use ANYthing, ALL things, to deliver and free up and fill. Every, single, solitary thing.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than ALL we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21