God of Promise

Wow, this is a long one. I'll be impressed if any of you actually read it all, and I won't blame you if you don't. :)

I've heard about God's promises for most of my life, growing up in church and all. The first time we're introduced to this aspect of God is usually the story of Noah and the rainbow, the sign of God's promise to never destroy the whole earth with water again. I've also heard many testimonies of people over the years who were "standing on" a certain promise that God had made to them through His Word. There are books written on the subject and we're often reminded that we can trust God's promises for our lives. But I'm always baffled into silence when asked the question, usually in a Bible study format, "What promises are you trusting God for in your life?" or "How has God kept a promise to you in the past?"

Of course, I always defer back to the standard, "I trust Him to save me and give me eternal life," or other such general promises that I don't always think of in terms of a promise. But in this post, I'm really referring to those specific promises that God makes to you in a specific time or circumstance in your life. This has just never been a real concept to me. However, (as you've probably guessed by the fact that I'm writing on this subject) I feel that God has spoken a promise especially for me this week.

First let me say that Bible study was just amazing for me on Thursday. We've been studying Abraham and Sarah, and this has just been such a rich and applicable study in my life. The picture of this couple forsaking prayer, trying to figure out in purely human terms how God will fulfill His promise, and making a huge mistake that brought hostility in their marriage, a broken friendship between Sarah and Hagar, and violent consequences for mankind to this day was a great reminder to me to seek God in prayer and His Word and QUIT TRYING TO FIGURE THINGS OUT BY MY OWN LIMITED UNDERSTANDING, trusting Him to complete His work in my life in His own timing and under His own terms. Also, huge comfort came from knowing that, despite this pretty big mistake these two made, God continued to love them and did fulfill His promise to them by blessing them with a son and so much more. I'm so glad that people of faith in Scripture aren't perfect!

Okay, I digress. So, as I'm sitting in lecture time on Thursday, a Scripture is briefly referred to that has come up several times lately. Don't you just love it how God does that? He brings up something over and over until we get it. At that moment, I felt God saying, "This is my promise to you. This is what you can cling to when things are rough." The Scripture is found in Mark 10: 28-31:

Peter (or it could be Amy!) said to him, "We have left everything to follow you!"

"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first."

I struggle with giving up things of this world for Christ. I don't know how, if it comes to it, we'll leave dear friends and family to move a long way away with no road connecting us. Though it's much less important to me now, I don't know how I'll deal with selling our house and many of our possessions to move to who knows what kind of dwelling. I don't know how I'll deal with leaving a church where we have wonderful worship services each week where I am able to connect with the heart of God and going to a very different type of church (though I realize worship is not about me). I don't know what I'll do when I'm so lonely I want to cry and I have no girlfriends to run to and share with. I don't know how I'll handle leaving my kids' great schools and teachers and taking on the huge responsibility of teaching them myself, which I do not feel equipped for. I don't know how I'll like giving up that monthly paycheck (though it doesn't ever seem large enough) and truly depending on other people to support us (which, I know, is really just depending on God). You get the point...

But I think I'll handle it by reminding myself of God's promise to me. Yes, there will be suffering and maybe even persecution. Yes, it will be hard and there will be days you want to quit. During those times, I have a promise. And don't consider me totally selfless. I have been promised blessings more abundant than I have ever known, both in this life and especially in the next. I am trusting that God will provide for my family like He never has before...maybe not more money, but in amazing and faith-building ways. I am trusting that God will provide friends to encourage me...maybe an ocean away or maybe right next door. I am trusting that God will provide an education for my kids...by equipping me or providing an awesome school an a little bitty island. I am trusting that God will give me the ultimate blessing...more of Himself.

Ultimately, God Almighty is a God of Promise...willing to make them to us and able and faithful to keep them. That's why He is worth following. What could I ever sacrifice that would not be worth more of Him?

People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa...Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter?...Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us and for us. I never made a sacrifice.

~David Livingstone, pioneer missionary to Africa, December 4, 1857


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