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Yes and Amen!
by Karen Burkhart
No doubt we have all been stung by a broken promise. And, if we're honest, we'd probably confess to breaking our own word a time or two. In my experience, unkept promises in our personal lives are rarely intentional. Many times, a promise-breaker means well but underestimates what it would take to fulfill the promise. Or, perhaps, a promise-breaker forgets about the promise or procrastinates until it is not possible to make good. But we also observe circumstances that seem more calculated, such as the broken promises of a scheming politician or overly aggressive salesman. In light of all these let-downs, it's no wonder we're a little skeptical when we hear the words, “I promise”—even when they escape our own mouth! The truth is: there is only One whose word we can take to the bank 100% of the time--God. Not only does He lack nothing to fulfill His promises, but He also remembers every promise and has never had a window close on Him.
Even though I am convinced of these truths intellectually, I admit, sometimes my heart lags behind. That's why the radical trust demonstrated by Old Testament prophets is amazing to me. Noah, for example, trusted in God's promise to send a catastrophic flood and save his family by means of an ark, and he lived in that trust publicly for roughly seventy-five years. It's one thing to quietly believe and hope that God will one day fulfill His promise; it's quite another to rearrange your life around it for all to see. I often marvel at the measure of ridicule Noah and his family surely endured as they faithfully labored on this gargantuan lifeboat that had no apparent purpose. I question if I could dare live my faith that boldly.
Remarkably, Noah even trusted God’s promises despite not having ALL the information. Here's what the Bible tells us Noah knew when he wielded his ark-building hammer for the first time:
God was going to destroy all living creatures on the earth with a flood
The specs of the large boat he was to build
Who and what was to go on the boat: Noah and his family, pairs of every animal and bird, and enough food to sustain them
Here's what we can assume Noah didn't know:
When, how, and how many animals and birds would come to him
When it would start raining
How long they would all be in the ark
How Noah would know when it was time to leave the ark
What life would be like after they left the ark
Planners like me don't like not knowing all the details in advance, but God shares on a “need-to-know” basis. He’s a Good Father who understands that our knowing everything can short-circuit our finite minds and emotions. Our job is to simply obey what we know He wants us to do, then trust that He will either lead us to next steps or faithfully do His part. In Noah's case, after he obeyed all God had originally instructed, God sent the animals and rain then closed the door of the ark. The ark floated aimlessly for five months before resting on dry ground, but Noah had to wait another seven months before God finally told him to leave the boat. I bet that felt like an eternity. Afterward, God made another promise which must have brought such comfort to Noah's heart:
“I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night (Genesis 8:22).” (See also Genesis 9:12-17)
Praise be to God; this promise continues to us today! We can be certain that, even when things look really bad, as long as this earth remains, God will sustain life. He will sustain us! He is and has always been the One who holds it ALL together. And let us not forget that God also promises that one day He will give us a new heaven and a new earth free from corruption, where Righteousness has the final—and every—word.
For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And, through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Jesus, thank you that not one of your promises have gone or will ever go unfulfilled. Help me to build my life around your promises even if I end up looking like I'm toiling in vain. You are the One I can trust and You alone are my salvation.