17 December 2016
December came in like a lion, an immediate shift to living in a land of closed interstates, negative temperatures, frigid winds, and blowing ice.
Our dear friends are moving away today. Last night, all bundled up to walk half a block, we stop and half joke that God may be telling them not to move. How will they get to Wisconsin with all the road closures? And the slashed tires on the moving truck?
Yet we know they will go. If not today, soon. If not this winter, this spring. Spring will come, so even as the cold causes continual challenges to schedules and well-beings, there is an underlying knowledge we people dwelling in North Dakota carry around with us: this winter won't last forever, even when it feels like it does.
We know this intellectually, learning about seasons in science class. We know this experientially , having gone through the seasonal year before. For me, this is my fortieth winter, my fourth in North Dakota, and every year I've lived, spring has come. It is a promise rooted in fact and experience, and I can understand it.
Even more certain than spring are the promises of God.
Peter describes them as "very great and precious."
I've been trying to think of what I might describe as both "very great" and also as "precious." There really aren't many things that come to mind. Maybe a rare and valuable jewel? Not quite. Possibly a brand new, uniquely designed sports car? Still doesn't fit.
The words "very great" make me think of power and enormity, the word "precious" connotes fragility and irreplaceable value.
I came up with three categories that seem to fit both adjectives:
The relationships with people we have, such as marriage, parenthood, or friendship are both very great and precious. It is mind boggling that I committed to stay with one person for my entire life that I'd known for just over a year. We walk this life together bringing forth life through our union and learning to love each other more through the years. It is also extremely precious, as we make ourselves vulnerable to each other and experience how easy it is to grow apart, turn away, or lose this union through death, deceit, or destruction.
My husband says a family reunion as very great and precious. Maybe it only happens once every ten years, where family from all over the world come together to celebrate their blood connection. I still remember the family reunion we had when I was just about to start college. I showed up to freshmen orientation a couple days late in order to be with my extended family as we celebrated my great-grandmother's hundredth birthday. She died just a few months later.
Freedom is a pursuit that is very great and precious. The idea that all can be free to think as they so desire, to live and love and use their minds without oppression of government or other authority. The cost of freedom is often high for those willing to fight for it.
But the disciple of Jesus, Peter, uses the adjectives “very great and precious” to describe God's promises. (2 Peter 1)
God's promises are different than people’s promises. Variables such as a bad memory, a busy life, a broken budget, unforeseen weather or circumstances all creep in, causing people’s best of intentions to fall short.
Not so with God. Every Single Promise He has ever made has been or will be fulfilled. He never forgets, never gets too busy, and never is unable to fulfill them because of things outside his control. He has every resource at His fingertips; every say over the course of events. And He’s good.
We can stand on on God’s promises like nothing else.
For my son’s 14th birthday I gave him a promise in his card that I would take him out to dinner and a movie. He’ll be watching at waiting for that to be fulfilled until I make good on my word.
In the same way, we need to be watching. God has given us very great and precious promises, but do we know what they are? Are we looking for them to be fulfilled?
Anna and Simeon sure were. They were watching, ready to see the fulfillment of God’s Word that He would send the Messiah.
How about us? What promises have you claimed for your own, asking God for fulfillment in your life and watching to see Him accomplish it?
As my dear friend reached the end of her life she was wondering if her life was complete, and as she talked to me about what completion might look like, she was thinking of the promise in Philippians 1:6:
“..being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” For some reason, God’s work for her was done here before she turned 50.
A promise Brian and I claimed when we moved to North Dakota is found in Mark 10:29 and 30:
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields--and with them, persecutions” and in the age to come, eternal life.”
So I watch for God to provide a hundred times as much as we left behind. I believe He, in His ridiculously amazing grace, is doing what He promised.
Flesh and bone type these words, in the form of fingers, nails, palms. Eyes confirm the letters are accurate, mind and heart working together to attempt communication of idea. “All men are like grass and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” 1 Peter 1:24,25
That Word became flesh and “made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
He keeps His promises. He will keep His promises.
They are very great and precious.