Faithful to Him Who Promised

Friday, October 8, 2004

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.... Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:

"For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
Now the just shall live by faith."

~Hebrews 10:23, 35-38a

Without wavering.

Now there is a concept for me. All of my life I have struggled with myself for never finishing anything. If it got too hard, I bailed, whether it was chemistry, or friendships, or one of the five college majors I attempted during my brief college career.

If there is one thing that I don't want to quit, it is pressing on to know Christ. But when things get hard, and people start questioning what I believe and telling me that I'm basing my whole life on an emotional experience cloaked in spiritual terms, I’d rather curl up and fit back into the regimented, "I need to work on this" system that would keep me "safe" from the disapproval of at least the Christians around me.

Something inside of me says that there is great humility in just taking everything everyone says and applying it to myself. But what happens when they're wrong? What happens when what they say flies in the face of everything that I have come to believe about God through a study of His Word? What happens when I believe in a Person who created me to be a person instead of a doctrinal system that would require a mechanical response of "right and wrong"?

I know I'm a fool. People don't just "risk everything" on a God you can't see, because He did, of course, give us common sense. "God helps those who help themselves," right?

How then can I live? Because I am too weak to help myself. I'm too weak to even persevere. I cannot live by anything but His grace, because if I fall to keeping one part of the law, I am bound by burden of the entire law, and who can keep that?

Is it too much to trust God and depend on Him to be gracious and merciful to me as He grows me? Is it too much to endure with Him as my only ally when I am just a human?

Every character in the Bible was on an emotional roller coaster. Read through the Psalms and see the tumult of the writers as they went from extreme despair and doubt of God's love to overwhelming joy and excitement about His work. Look at Abraham, who couldn't trust God enough to wait for His timing on the fulfillment of His promise for a son. Look at Israel who so quickly forgot God's faithfulness and went out to fight their battles on their own. And one of my favorite stories: Peter, getting out of the boat to walk on the water toward Christ and being overwhelmed with his fear.

But God had promised, and each time, He was faithful to His word. He gave Abraham the son He had promised and even blessed Ishmael. He still preserves a remnant for Himself in Israel. He reached out to keep Peter from drowning.

What if the Bible isn't about how to avoid the mistakes of the people in it? What if, just maybe, the Bible is about a God who loves people in spite of their mistakes, who draws them inexorably to Himself in His time as He works every situation for His glory? Maybe the Bible is about a God that we forget to look at while we try to figure out how we will come out best.

The best anybody ever looks in the Bible is when they are in sackcloth and ashes crying out to the God of their salvation, because here comes their God to defend them and save them and prove Himself to the world.

God has placed some incredible people in my life, and it is during these times when I am ready to give up that He shows Himself faithful through their encouragement toward perseverance. One conversation with my sister last summer still rings true for me this week.

"As for, 'tell me something here, what am I blowing?'," she began after my venting session, "I can't answer that. Only you and God can. But I can tell you I think it has more to do with God trying to teach you to trust Him and depend on Him, to quit throwing up your hands ready to give up every time, to realize He loves you and a dream waited for is a victory much more worth savoring, because it's His gift to you. And THAT is more incredible than the victory."

Maybe the victory isn't the point. Maybe the "being right" isn't even the point. Maybe the point is just that God is God and He loves us, and we can trust Him because He says so and be amazed by it and praise Him for it.

Maybe that's a hope we can hold to without wavering.


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