Recently I was thinking about the promises God has spoken to me. Some have been fulfilled rather quickly, like my move to Ireland. The thought of coming here for a time was planted in July 2013. By September of that year, God had said yes, and about 6 months later I stepped off the plane in Dublin.
Then there are others like those I mentioned in the last post. Those things that have been growing in my heart for years, just waiting for the time of fulfillment. Sometimes it’s easy to think I’ve heard God wrong, or screwed up in some way that makes the promises null and void.
During a fairly recent moment of uncertainty, God reminded me that His promises aren’t conditional – unless conditions are clearly stated up front. They are not contractual agreements that we enter into; they aren’t accompanied by terms and conditions or a ton of fine print.
As He often does, he used a movie to illustrate His point. This time it was Field of Dreams. I haven’t seen the film in years and I remember very little of the story, but the line that came to mind will likely be in my head forever. “If you build it, he will come.”
It struck me that all too often that is how I look at God’s promises: if I do all the work right, God will come through and deliver what He has promised. This could not be further from the truth. God is faithful even when I am not. When I lose hope or stumble in my pursuit of His best, He doesn’t withdraw the gifts and promises He has extended.
I don’t have to “build” anything in order for Him to come through for me. He is the builder, and I enjoy the privilege of being a part of the process. This doesn’t mean I can skate through life with no care for doing what He has called me to do. However, it does mean I don’t have to be so paralyzed of missing a step along the journey that I never go anywhere at all.
Not all promises come without terms and conditions, of course. There are if/then statements throughout the Bible, and God is well within His rights to make these kinds of promises. Some of the promises God has made me involve action on my part. He is not going to zap me skinny or snap his fingers and drop a finished book in my lap. These are goals that require me to do very specific things, but God has promised to honor my efforts and help me see results as I am diligent in doing my part.
The danger I have seen in myself as of late is to apply conditions to everything God has said. If only I do this right or enough of that, maybe God will see fit to keep His word. At the root of this belief is the oldest trick in Satan’s book: “Did God really say…?”
The question of God’s character is at the center of this struggle, and unfortunately there are many “character witnesses” that will try to tell us God is holding out on us. I can assure you though that this is not the case.
Sometimes I lose my focus on the God I know and love. In those moments, I begin to look at myself, my own character, and wonder how God could ever trust me with the things I believe He has promised. I begin to wonder if God really said… The remedy for this is always to refocus my vision. The fulfillment of God’s promises has everything to do with His character, and very little to do with mine.
I hope I am a worthy vessel for all that He wants to pour in and through me, but it’s still all about Him.