She was our neighbor and a member of the youth group. She was also our occasional great baby sitter. I had been her youth pastor for about a year. I’ve forgotten the substance of our conversation but I remember her expressing concern that I would move to another church before she graduated from high school. I also remember telling her not to worry, that I would certainly be around for her graduation in a couple of years. A year later I took a call to another church in another state. She looked at me with her sad eyes and said, “You promised you’d be here for my graduation.” What could I say – she was right and we were both feeling pain. I broke a precious promise. And when I did that her trust was shaken.
Perhaps that’s why I am drawn to Moses encounter with God at the burning bush. Moses wanted a guarantee, a word of assurance that he could show to the people, that God could be trusted. (Exodus 3:67-9) God responded, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” (I am the God who was present with your people in the past.) “At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians…” (I am the God who is present with you now.) “… and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey-the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (I am the God who will be present with you in the future.) I am the God who has never let you down. I am the God who has never failed to deliver on my word. I am the God who is faithful to all my promises.
God is both a promise-maker and a promise-keeper. In fact, God has made a promise to be faithful to His covenant. We see it in His call to Abraham – God called him to leave everything he knew and had and head for a place he had never seen – all because God wanted to build a great nation through him. That’s all Abraham had – the promise, the word of God. But he discovered that God delivers on his word – from Abraham, a nation was born. And Moses was called to go face to face and toe to toe with Pharaoh – all because God wanted to rescue Israel from slavery. That’s all Moses had – the promise, the word of God. But he, too, discovered that God delivers on His word – for Israel was set free.
Centuries later, when it seemed as if maybe God had forgotten His promise to send a deliverer, the man named Jesus marched to a cross, shed His blood, was laid in a tomb, but rose again! God’s people – you and I – were set free! God delivers on His word. God is the ultimate Promise-Keeper! On His word, and His word alone, we are free to love and serve – because the future is guaranteed. As the Apostle Peter later wrote (2 Pt. 3:13): “According to his promise, we look forward to a new heaven and a new earth where everything will work right.” We are free to be faithful to our word.
God wants us to be covenant makers not contract makers. A contract states what each party promises to do – you do this and I will do this. But if either party breaks the contract it is null and void. A covenant states what one party promises to do, no matter what. When we are covenant promise makers and keepers, we are like God!
Just imagine what being faithful covenant makers and promise keepers would mean – in our marriages, our families, our schools, our workplaces, our halls of government, our churches. What if, in our marriages, families, schools, workplaces, government, and churches we truly promised, “I am the one who will be there for you” instead of “I will be there for you as long as you provide me with all the satisfaction I have coming?” To be like God is to keep our promises even when we are not getting what we want or deserve. Thomas Carlysle, near the end of his monumental history of the French Revolution, concluded that the revolution failed, not because of corruption in high places, but because ordinary people in their ordinary places neglected to keep their promises. Lewis Smedes wrote, “If we do not keep our promises, what was once a human community turns into a combat zone of (self-centeredness.)” We are free to be difference makers – we can keep our word because God has kept His.
What if you really trusted God? What would your life look like? What would you do if you really trusted God – truly believed that He is with you? What would you do if you really believed that God is – that He makes things happen, that He is the answer to all your needs? What would you do if you truly believed that God was faithful to His word? What promise would you claim? Are you willing to trust God? A little boy was walking down the beach, and as he did, he spied a matronly woman sitting under a beach umbrella on the sand. He walked up to her an asked, “Are you a Christian??” “Yes.” “Do you read your Bible every day?” “Yes.” “Do you pray often?” the boy asked next. And again she answered, “Yes.” With that the little boy asked his final question, “Will you hold my quarter while I go swimming?” What quarters do you need to give to God as you head back out into the waters of life? I invite you to establish your trust in Jesus. Lay before Him your needs, your fears, your challenges, your dreams. Give Him your quarters – whatever they may be. For you can trust Him!