Arise, Darling! Winter is Over!

We only have one that pops up in our garden each spring. But it only takes one to make me squeal like a three-year-old …

“Look! The daffodil has bloomed!”

Daffodils are one of my favorites. They are the first to bloom around here. With their perky heads and sunny faces, they trumpet promises of warmth and renewal.

2017 May 22 Daffodil

Photo courtesy of Aaron Burden @ Unsplash

God’s promises are like that, too. They trumpet hope like water in the desert, color after a long grey winter, warmth after a bone-deep chill, the beginning of a new productive season. God’s promises are like that because like the flowers we count on to bloom every spring, so God is unchanging and faithful. We can count on His promises because we can count on Him.

Yes, His promises reveal much about His character:

He’s not slow—He’s patient.
He’s bigger than any giant—and He uses the subtlest weapons.
There’s hope beyond our current difficulties—He’s with us in our difficulties.
There’s always a bigger picture—an eternal purpose.

But did you know …

His promises also reveal much about our character?

May 22 God's promises are meaningless unless they've been tested.

For example:

His promise to never leave us or abandon us (Hebrews 13:5) doesn’t much matter until we’re in a place where He seems to have vanished. We can’t see Him, hear Him, or feel Him. It’s at this point we have to discover if we trust Him even then. It’s at this point we have a choice: to let our trust grow or falter.

What about His promise to prosper us and not harm us, to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11)? Do we look at our future through the lens of our circumstances today or through His Word?

Then there’s His promise that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). How many times have we allowed death or life, principalities or powers, present circumstances or fear of the future, convince us otherwise?

Oh, and the one we all think we’ve passed when in truth we have failed over and over. Whoever believes in Jesus will have everlasting life (John 3:16). How many times have we acted as if our salvation depended on our performance—as if it’s something to be earned?

And there’s other promises we often fail to believe when tested. I can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). He will supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19). The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). And how about, He will give life to our mortal bodies (Romans 8:11)?

I find that it’s easy to perk up when we recite God’s promises—that is until those …

promises experience a hard freeze.

And for me, mothering unattached children frequently blew the door wide open to wintry blasts. But you know what? Though I doubted, I clung like crazy to God’s promises.

I’d like to say those promises have evolved over the years. The way they materialized in the end sure looked a lot differently than I expected at the beginning. But the truth is, the promises didn’t change. My understanding of them did. My mind—my heart—is what has been transformed. And I can tell you now, the scent of those promises is much sweeter than I ever imagined.

So what’s popped up in your garden this spring?

Have you considered

… the effort it took for that sprout to push through the soil? Have you pondered what it might be like to endure a long, cold winter, buried in darkness? Do you realize that near death had to happen for new life to grow?

Oh, but you’ve experienced these things haven’t you? Yes, me, too. And that’s why we take the time to stop, gaze, touch, inhale deeply, and praise the Creator as we see His promises blossom into new life before us.

Like Solomon,

Jesus invites us to enter His spring.

May we follow.

 

“Arise, my darling,
    my beautiful one, come with me.
See! The winter is past;
    the rains are over and gone.
Flowers [daffodils?] appear on the earth;
    the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
    is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit;
    the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
    my beautiful one, come with me.”

Song of Songs 2:10-13, NIV

Advertisements

Is God a Reneger?

Sometimes God promises, God fulfills, and then God asks us to give what was promised back. What? Would God do that? Yes. He has—several times. For example …

Abraham

Abraham was finally enjoying the start of the fulfillment of God’s promise that a great nation would birth from him. It took 25 years for God to even begin to fulfill that promise through the birth of Isaac (Genesis 12:1-4; 21:5). And then, maybe 10-12 years later, God told Abraham to sacrifice this only son back to Him (Genesis 22:1-2).

Scripture only records Abraham’s unflinching obedience to God’s directive. There is no mention of doubt, confusion, or hesitancy. Don’t you find that amazing? I sure do, especially after all the times Abraham tried to take matters into his own hands (Genesis 12:10-20; Genesis 20; Genesis 16:1-6).

What do you do when God fills a promise and then asks you to let it go?

May 15 Letting Go
{Photo courtesy of Averie Woodard @ Unsplash}

What if it appears God takes the gift back without even allowing you to choose?

Like, He promises you a husband, one finally shows up when you’re 30, and then it turns out this husband is far from the prince you thought your faithfulness deserved. Or you get your dream job and it turns out to be a nightmare. Or you are finally approved for adoption, your child arrives, and the child pushes you away.

I’m not saying we misunderstood God’s promise. No, it was very real and showed up as expected. But in time, the object of promise seems to crumble. Your spouse dies … or your house burns down … or your adopted child grows up, moves out, and refuses to speak to you.

These things happen. Quite frequently. In fact, we will probably all experience this sort of deal at least once in our lives.

Do we trust God enough to hold His promises with open hands?

May 15 Open Hands
{Photo courtesy of Mathias Reed @ Unsplash}

Do we believe His plans are perfect? Do we believe His love is enough? Can we, like Abraham and so many others mentioned in Hebrews 11, trust God to stay true to His word even if we don’t see it fulfilled in our lifetime?

Wow! Here I am, thinking my topic for May was going to be a little more lighthearted. And I certainly hope it turns that corner. And yet, that’s exactly …

What God’s promises are supposed to do.

They are meant to illumine the darkness that seems to hover close. They are meant to lighten the burdens that weigh us down. God gave them to ignite hope when we can find none anywhere else.

But maybe …

May 15 God's promises are more about increasing our faith, than brightening our day

Last week I wrote that we can place our confidence in God’s promises even when we have to wait an eternity to see them fulfilled. Today I want to underscore that …

We can trust God Himself when it appears He’s fulfilled a promise only to ask us to surrender it back to Him.

You see, when God asks us to surrender, it’s because He has something greater in mind.

A deeper trust to develop
A richer provision for everything He asks of us
A new understanding of His purposes
A fresh picture of His redemptive ways
A sweeter awareness of His love

In reality He’s not reneging on His promise at all. He’s refining our hearts, enriching our faith, and enhancing our stories. He’s taking His promises and exploding their impact.

“But as it is written:
‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.'”
1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:20 NIV

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
Psalm 136:1 NASB

When God Seems to Take His Sweet Little Ol’ Time

She was barren, this wife of his youth. Barren throughout her child-bearing years, and well beyond the cessation of her cycling. And THEN God tells him he will be father to a great nation (Genesis 12:2).

What would have gone through your mind if God had made such a promise to you?

May 8 Questions

{Photo courtesy of Evan Dennis @ Unsplash}

I think I would have looked around, trying to figure out who God was really talking to. And it would have been just like me to attempt to take responsibility for fulfilling this promise—and found another vessel to bear my seed. I certainly would have questioned my sanity—and maybe even God’s reliability—as year after year (twenty-five, actually) flew by, with me and the mother of this promised child quickly approaching the God-determined “ending of our years” age of 120.

But God’s promises are like that, aren’t they?

Given, and then left to marinate while we wait, and wait, and doubt, and fume. We question what we heard, or if we had done something to cause God to renege on His promise. We wonder if we’re supposed to DO something ourselves to make it happen. Over time, weariness of faith fogs our vision. In fact, this fog often prevents us from seeing the ways God is actually fulfilling His Word.

But promises from God require childlike faith from us. Trust that behind God’s promises is God’s character.

May 8 God's promisesare backedbyGod's character.

 “God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent;
Has He said, and will He not do it?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”

Numbers 23:19, NASB

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23, NASB

What has God promised you?

If He is God, and He has promised, then He will be faithful.

“Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.”
Psalm 27:14 NASB

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
… Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
… But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.”
Psalm 37:7-9 NASB

A Basketful of Promises

The doorbell rang at our fairly new home.

My mom and we four little girls scurried to see who it could be. Nobody? Nobody was there. Instead we were greeted by an adorable tray of pretty purple pansies floating in little potpie-size tins.

“Look!” my mom sang. “May Day gifts for each of you girls! I wonder who they’re from?”

My memory may not be exact on this event. After all, I was only four or five years old. And it’s an experience never since repeated. Nevertheless, this one sweet moment solidified my belief that May holds a basketful of promises.

Weather warming. Colors blooming. Bare feet running through soft grass.

Mothers to honor. School days to end. Vacations to soon whisk us away.

May 1 Happy May Day!

I’ve said before that most of my writing focuses on hard stuff because I want you to feel welcomed in the midst of your own stormy weather. I want you to not feel like someone is just glossing over your pain—making light of the heavy weight you carry.

But sometimes

… we need to climb aboard the hot-air balloon that will lift us above the storms and carry us into the sunshine. Okay, so hot-air balloons don’t operate in the stormy weather, but let’s pretend they do. I suppose I could use an airplane as an example. But no, I want us to feel the sun warm our skin, smell the fresh air blow through our hair, hear the birds sing, and see the panoramic picture of all God’s really up to.

And let’s add a little taste to the scenario (got to use all five senses, you know). How about your favorite onboard snack? Hot cocoa and muffins? Coffee and chocolate? Wine and cheese? Or maybe it’s the wine and bread we need to savor. You know, that “every time you partake” reminder that all Christ did for us still meets us where we are today.

May is a good month to slow down,

… sit still, breathe deep, and savor God’s promises.

For I know the plans that I have for you … to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11, NASB

God causes all things work together for good …
Romans 8:28, NASB

I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Hebrews 13:5, NKJV

In all these things we are more than conquerors.
Romans 8:37, NKJV

Nothing can separate us from God’s love.
Romans 8:39

I can do all things through Christ.
Philippians 4:13, NKJV

In due time we shall reap …
Galatians 6:9, NASB

[May 1 What promises are sitting at your door today-

… right at your feet, peeking at you in vibrant colors?

Maybe today is a good day to open your door and take a fresh look. I’d love to enjoy their beauty with you. Would you mind sharing with me in the comment section below?