Trusting the Promises of God

What do moving a safe and trusting the promises of God have in common? More than you might think…

Not too long ago, my husband and I were moving a large safe from the front of the garage to the back of the garage into a storage room. Kurtis asked me to help tip the hulking piece of metal onto a dolly and then he would wheel it to its new home. On the first try, I was too hesitant because I was afraid the momentum of the massive safe would push the dolly out. I was afraid my husband couldn’t brace it.

But he assured me he was ready and that I needed to tip it and not be timid. This time, I pushed with the full assurance he was ready for the weight of the safe to shift to him. And it worked. It shifted to the dolly and he easily rolled it into its new spot.

What made the difference? The second time, I could “push through” because my husband promised he could handle the weight. I had a promise I could lean into and trust.

Some famous verses from Joshua highlights this truth.

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:6-9

A little bit of context for this passage: Joshua was a new leader leading a new generation into the land God had promised the older generations. Their victory was promised, but there were still battles and choices ahead. There would be many opportunities to be discouraged. Within the first nine verses, God exhorts Joshua to not be afraid or discouraged three times. Why three times? In The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Old Testament), the author notes that Joshua is assured of three different things with each admonishment to be strong and courageous. He’s assured by God’s promise, His power, and His presence.

Trusting the promises of God

There was no need to fear because God’s promise had assured them of their inheritance. The nation could brace themselves in that. In fact, these words from Numbers might have come to their minds.

God is not human, that he should lie,
not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promise and not fulfill?

Numbers 23:19

Where they were unfaithful, God was faithful. Where they broke their promises, God kept His.

There was no need to be afraid because God’s power would be their source of strength. This generation would’ve seen miraculous things as God provided for them in the wilderness. And they would’ve heard their parents’ and grandparents’ stories of the plagues in Egypt, the Red Sea escape, and the demise of Pharaoh’s army. There was no doubt as to if God’s power would be able to deliver them. The evidence had already been collected.

And there was no need to be discouraged as they entered a new land and faced new obstacles, because God’s presence would never leave them. There would be many times when the Israelite army would be outmanned, but over and over we see that God’s presence was the tipping point for their victory.

The encouraging news for you and me is that we can depend on those same things today. During this time of quarantine, we’ve had plenty of opportunities to test these promises. So if you’re wondering if you can really lean into God’s promises, if you’re wondering if he can catch the weight of your finances, your kids, your health, or your relationships, the answer is a resounding yes.

We can brace ourselves in God’s promises and trust His power and presence, no matter what is on our horizon.

The Tears of the Saints

The TEar

Today’s post is different from my normal posts. I wrote the first draft of this four or five years ago. I don’t even remember what spurred me on to write it. In light of our collective grief over the COVID-19 pandemic and some personal losses within my own circle, I wanted to offer these words as a bench to rest on as you walk through grief. You are not alone. Your pain is not wasted.

Taking my time, I put a hand to the door, and it slowly swung open on its hinges. It was some sort of garden shed, if heaven indeed called them that. I had noticed many of them sitting trim and confident on the edge of gardens and lawns, little islands amid acres of emerald green grass and shimmering sunlight.

My eyes were immediately dazzled by dancing colors reflecting off the four walls, not an uncommon experience here on the New Earth. Once my eyes had refocused, I saw the source was a reverberating wall of color, rows and rows of glass bottles oscillating with a liquid that seemed more alive than inanimate. Ruby red decanters, weighty green vessels, delicate blue bottles, crystal clear jugs. Bottle after bottle filled my senses.

I turned to Him (incredible to be with Him) and he read the question in my eyes before my lips had parted.

“They’re the tears of the saints,” He whispered.

The Tears of the Saints

“I thought…” I began, but again, He knew.

“Not new tears that fell here in heaven, but tears from the ages on earth. From all my children throughout the millennia.”

A line from the book of Psalms filtered through my mind to my heart, like the first wafting scent of coffee from mornings long ago on earth, and I felt a tingling at yet another revelation behind words I had treasured throughout my life.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each in your book.

Psalm 56:8

Following behind this verse came another story, this one from the book of Luke about a woman. This woman, who had borne so much pain and sorrow, desired to bless the Lord. And what better way than with her tears?  A lifetime of precious tears would be valued by Jesus because He cared for her. The evidence of that was before my eyes.

He walked along the shelves, fingering each bottle lovingly, knowing from which precious soul they originated.

“Nathaniel, Margaret, Susan, Eli, Cheng, Judith, Rosa, Mikael…”

I absorbed the unspoken stories behind the names, as He selected one of the clear jugs and re-entered the garden.

He made his way over to a bed of roses of some indescribable color and tenderly emptied the jug, dancing liquid trailing down the stems and dripping off leaves.

The rosebush rose to meet the liquid, rejoicing at the ancient, precious tears. The leaves glowed a deeper green, the petals becoming more vibrant before my eyes. New buds appeared along the stems within moments.

“Not one tear from my children goes to waste. Not one. Here, they give life and nourishment. They bring growth. They have a purpose.”

I gazed at the flowers, while deep, holy things took root in my soul. I felt His hand in mine once more.

“Let me show you your tree.”

We walked a few dozen yards, or maybe it was several miles. It was hard to measure distance here. In the corner of another garden (He had a thing for gardens) was a tree. My tree. He didn’t have to tell me it was mine. My spirit heard Him and knew. Oh, how I’ve longed to commune like this!

I sank to my knees in front of the trunk that hummed with life. His hand came to my shoulder.

“Every tear. Every tear of yours has nourished this tree. When your uncle died, when you fought with your parents, when you served with no evidence of harvest, when you failed the test, when you couldn’t understand why your sister got sick or why you couldn’t have children for so long. When your heart was broken. When your children rebelled. When your husband left. Every shred of hurt. Every drop of pain. I stored it. And the tears became something good.”

The branches stretched far above my head, and far beyond my comprehension. Providing beauty, though there was no shortage of beauty in this place. Sheltering the doves and sparrows, though there were plenty of trees to choose from.

Still it grew and existed and was lovely in its own corner.

Still on my knees, I worshipped Him. This was my God. My Father.

I rose again, his hand cupping my face, then gripping my hand again, smiling like only a carpenter from Nazareth can smile.

“Come. We have much more to see.”

YouVersion Easter Plan Available Now!

Happy April everyone! As we are all in the midst of navigating this pandemic and adjusting to our shelter-in-place routine, we are also looking at Easter celebrations that will look very different from years past. In spite of that, I’m looking forward to reflecting on Christ’s sacrifice for us. Will you join me in preparing our hearts for Easter Sunday? You can do that by starting my new Easter plan available now on YouVersion.

YouVersion plans for Easter

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I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30