Monday, May 3, 2010

Promises

Promises, promises. How many times has someone promised you something only to fail to keep their word? How many times have you promised someone something only to fail to keep your word? I remember when Grant was a baby and I was just learning to discipline him, I got a piece of advice from a seasoned mom that has remained fresh in my mind all these years. She said, "Be careful what comes out of your mouth because if you say it, you HAVE to follow through." When I'm tempted to spew, "If you don't pick up your room, you'll skip that play date," I pause. Do I really mean that? Is it a worthy consequence and am I willing to follow through? If the kids are pestering me, do I have the time to actually take them to the park or read them a book if I promise to do that when I finish my project? Broken promises break hearts and crush spirits.

Today I was reading Hebrews chapter 11, the Faith Hall of Fame. It starts out being defining faith as "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." It then goes on to list heros of the Bible, what they believed God for, and why their faith was credited to them as righteous. I was moved by Abraham who "when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went (emphasis mine) even though he did not know where he was going." I remember clearly the internal turmoil two years ago when Curt and I very clearly heard God calling us to move west and how frightening it was to obey and go. And we knew our final destination! God promised Abraham He would make his descendants innumerable, yet here Abraham is - living as a foreigner in the land God promised to give him (that now at least has a name) with ZERO children. He's approaching 100 years old and his wife is 90 when God tells him, "Okay, Sarah's going to get pregnant." Can we say guaranteed spot on Oprah when that actually happens? When Abraham dies he can count the number of his children on one hand. Not exactly innumerable. This is how God fulfills His promises? Seems like a broken promise to me.

Then I stumbled on verse 13. It says, "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance." They got glimpses of the promise, but didn't get to see the big picture, and STILL they believed God. They had faith He would keep His promise to them and He did. Amazing!

God's plan is almost always more intricate, complicated, and tougher than a plan I would design. But His plan is also more beautiful, creative and faith-building than any I would concoct which is why I am content to be a Follower of Jesus. Each day I am learning to walk by faith like the great heros in the Bible. The next time I get irritated that God hasn't answered my prayer and I've prayed about it for two days, I'll remember that Sarah and Abraham were infertile for 80 years before God said "Yes" to their prayer. When it feels like God has left me high and dry and has abandoned His promises for my life, I can know that He will finish what He started, even if the conclusion comes long after I die. That's a promise I can trust.

2 comments:

  1. Wow. Really great post. Great example with Abraham dying with only 2 sons but still welcoming the Lord's promises from a distance - I don't think I'd ever thought about it quite like that before. Can you tell I'm catching up on your blog today?! :) - F

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  2. Ha - I came out here to leave a comment, only to find I had already commented??? I had no idea Faith liked it enough to comment on too... After reading your post, I felt like I had never noticed verse 13 in that passage. It impacted me quite a bit while I was away in Turkey for our leadership conference.

    I was struck by how The Message translated verse 13 and a little more -" Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home." This seems so counter-intuitive to most of us. Yet I can still resonate with accepting the life of a transient because you are looking for something more. And I've definitely seen that in you and Curt and the way you guys choose to live.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post. Good work!

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