Thursday, May 12, 2011

Trust the promises.

A life lesson from a squirrel.

"For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 
    Therefore, we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:4-7)

Throughout my life I have struggled to cast off the world and wait with expectant surrender for life eternal. With the many blessings we receive daily--from clean water to safe homes to a disposable income--the image of "heaven" (cherubim playing harps on clouds) seems less than desirable, especially when there's so much life of blessing to be had! I find this image distorted for two reasons. First, Scripture says that Creation is good, so eternal life will be all that we experience now purified, perfected, and made whole. (And although music is brilliant and a critical part of life, it's only one part. I don't think we'll be a choir all the time.)  Second, when our vision becomes escapism from the material world, it is not a vision at all! Whether in abundance or poverty, eternal life must be sought with Christ alone in mind. 

So when we think about living by faith and not sight, we must consider the promises God has given us. He has promised eternal life to those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we now have free access to an intimate relationship with Him. We have protection, guidance, mercy, love, freedom, and so much more! 

Although those promises continually remind us of God's loving nature, they also challenge us to trust that He is faithful in keeping His promises. The squirrel understands trusting in promises. Each year they collect nuts that fall off of trees and burry them into the ground, not only taking what they need for daily provision but collecting a store for later when food is scarce. We, as animals of overconsumption, can learn a good deal from their conservation efforts. And we should also take a hint at their natural inclination to wait for the right time. They have learned to trust that weeks, months, even perhaps years down the road something they have been promised will be waiting for them--waiting to provide sustenance and come to fruition. 

God's promise to Abram is written in Genesis 15. The LORD says to him, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them. Then He said to him, "So shall your offspring be" (v. 5). But before Abram was given a new name and the covenant of circumcision (chapter 17), he is unable to wait for God to fulfill His promise. Because his wife had not born him children, she instructed him to sleep with her maidservant, Hagar. Fortunately, God worked through Abram's mistake and provided even despite him; he is even counted as a main of faithfulness in Hebrews 11 due to his willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac. 

At times we experience doubt, fear, loneliness, and pain. But the trials we face are in our lives are there to prove that our faith is genuine and worth more than gold (1 Peter 1:7). God only gives us daily bread, but He also gives us the reality of intimacy. And because His kingdom is now, we can trust that God's promises are "Yes" and "Amen" in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20).

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