February 19, 2008

Will an “I promise” deepen my faith?

Two young girls were talking, and one said she had ten pennies. The other girl looked at her hand and only saw five. She said, “You only have five pennies.” The first girl replied, “I have five and my father told me he would give me five more tonight. So I have ten.”

She understood that her father’s promise was as good as done.

I cannot remember my children ever pleading with me using, “Promise?” to add additional assurance to what I already said I would do. I guess that is a good thing. Even though promises are important, they believed in me whether I made them a promise or not.

In April 9, 2007, I wrote, “Because many people fail to keep their word, saying ‘I promise . . .’ has become almost a joke. Politicians who renege, exaggerated retail claims, broken wedding vows, and the like have destroyed the reputation of a promise. Does anyone expect them to be kept?

“I wonder if our crumbling expectation concerning promises has anything to do with Satan’s constant attack on our spiritual lives. Are broken promises part of his attempt to stop us from trusting God? Certainly, God makes hundreds of promises. If everyone else fails me, can I still believe He will not?”

I ended this article with, “‘We walk by faith, not by sight’—which means that if I can be confident of a heaven that I’ve never seen just because God promised it to me, I ought to be just as confident in that same promise-giving God for answers that haven’t yet happened.”

This morning my devotional book brings together those thoughts and the confidence of a child. The first sentence grabbed me: “We say sometimes, ‘If I could only find a promise to fit my case, I could then be at rest.’”

I can relate to this because in my prayers for people, and in my desires for certain things to happen, I think that if I could just find a promise in the Bible regarding this thing, I would not be so anxious about it. I would have assurance that God will do it, and that promise will be enough.

The reading goes on to point out that promises can be misunderstood or misapplied. Instead of placing all my confidence in a promise, I need to think about the person behind them. Who is God? And am I one of those children who nags Him with “Promise?” or one of those children who knows His character so well that I simply trust Him to do the right thing?

It isn’t that God resists making promises. He loves to declare what He will do for us. Willmington’s Book of Lists offers forty-one verses that use the word “promise” yet there are dozens, even hundreds more where God says He will do something for His children.

The reading challenges me with, “Should every promise be wiped out of the Bible, we would still have God left, and God would be enough.” Do I think of God in those terms? Or am I like a child who is not confident that her father will come through so asks, “Promise?”

When I read through that list of forty-one things, I realized that most of them are easy to believe. For instance, where God promises abundant life (John 10:10), a crown of life (Revelation 2:10), a heavenly home (John 14:1-3), or a new name (Isaiah 62:1-2), I have no problem. In fact, forty of the list are great assurances that I never question. These are promises that regard me, my spiritual life, my relationship with God and my salvation.

One of them is, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

I know God has given me Himself and all that I need. He will take care of me. The only one on that list that I struggle with is the promise that relates to other people. It is found in 1 John 5:14-15. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Why am I so sure about God’s care for me, and so not sure about Him taking care of others? Why are His promises toward me so easy to believe? Maybe when it comes to me, I am determined to cooperate with God, but that’s silly. It is God who has worked that spirit of being yielded into me; I didn’t do it. Why then do I doubt that He will do the same in the lives of those I pray for? Is it because I have no control over their cooperation?

After reading these things and thinking about it, I’m feeling as if always looking for a Bible promise about other people is not the right thing to do—at least if it expresses that I am not sure God loves them too (how arrogant), or that I’m trying to tell God what to do (more arrogance), or just that I want Him to take away my burden for people so that I don’t have to pray for them or talk to them about Him, which is more selfishness oozing out of my heart.

Whatever it is, the title of God is Enough now turns into a challenge. If am so certain that He is enough, then why am I not so certain that for others He isn’t?

(photo from Moments)


Kristie said...

I often wonder about those who pick one specific promise from the Bible and make that the focus of their belief.
Truth = God's character and God's Word. If we know God's character through His Word, His Spirit, and experience, then simply trusting God should be all we need.
Easier said than done but the more I know Him the more I am able to trust that His ways are best.

LC said...


The thing that I so often forget is that we are in a spiritual battle with someone that doesn't want that to happen. He is always trying to throw us for a loop.

Your comment is a great affirmation for what He gave me this morning (Feb 20). Thank you!