8-4-16 - Greeting God's Promises

The writer of Hebrews defines faith for us in a very particular way: the assurance of things hoped for; the conviction of things not seen. To illustrate his view he cites various parts of Abraham’s story, as well as a list of other biblical heroines and heroes of faith (read the whole chapter…) What makes these people exemplars of faith is not their “victories” – it is that they believed even though they never saw the full fruit of their longing delivered in their lifetimes.

All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them.

What a beautiful way of conceiving our faith life: seeing the promises of God in our mind and heart and spirit, and greeting those promises ahead on the road. I'm put in mind of the father of the prodigal son, “But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.” What if we personified the promises of God? Would that help us anticipate them with more hope and faith?

I do believe we get to see and taste the goodness of God right here and now. I write this on the patio in the small back yard, alive with birdsong, of the adorable new house I moved into yesterday. I am staggered by the blessing of finding a house to rent in my price-range, within walking distance of the church, when I thought I’d have to be in an apartment or condo many miles away. In the scheme of things, this is a small blessing, but a huge reminder to me that God is faithful in greater things too.

Our invitation is to believe in God’s promise of Life, here and now and then and later; God’s promise of peace and provision and presence and power; to believe that God’s reign of justice will emerge, and more quickly as we engage in God’s work of bringing it into being; to believe that refugees will find homes and wars will cease and evildoers be converted and everyone will “sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid.” (Micah 4:1-5) That is God’s great promise.

Just as God regards us from a distance as already fully righteous in Christ, so we are invited to pray and work and believe in God’s promises in the conviction that they are approaching, close enough to call out to on the road: “Hello there! I see you coming, and I can’t wait to see you up close!” These promises are moving toward us all the time – and we can run to them and embrace them and live them.

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