Saturday, April 13, 2013

Building An Ark

I was having another of my conversations with God yesterday morning, and He said something that amazed me. He always amazes me, but this time He opened up a whole new world in the way I have been thinking about faith and God’s promises. For a while now He has been giving me Isaiah 43:13, “There is no one who can deliver out of my hand. I work and who can reverse it?” The book of Isaiah is full of beautiful promises and assurances of God’s provision and strength and supernatural help for our lives, and He has been giving me many of those passages on a regular basis, but they’ve all revolved around Isaiah 43:13. Even when He sends me to other books, whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament, the message always returns to Isaiah 43:13.

The question that I had for God yesterday was not that I am not believing Him – that is a usual question for me, along with asking whether or not I really am hearing Him or if it is just my own thoughts and desires I am hearing – but yesterday morning I was asking Him how I could continue to believe in His promises when there were other people involved in the fulfillment of or the challenges to those promises. The answer he gave me was that it didn’t matter what anyone else believed or said or did, it only mattered what I believed and said and did because I was the one He gave the promise to. He was speaking to me, I heard Him, and so I am now responsible for believing. It is my faith that is the important part of the equation. The people and things that come along to bring doubt and chaos are just challenging my faith – they’re not a challenge to the outcome, because, in His own Words, “There is no one who can deliver out of my hand. I work and who can reverse it?” He reminded me of Abraham, who was given a promise by God that he would be the father of many nations, and that his wife Sarah, who was barren, would give birth at a time in both their lives when they were both too old by human standards to have children. Abraham went through his times of doubt and struggle, and thought at times that he had not understood God correctly and tried to do things his own way. But each time he strayed from faith, God brought him back face to face with the promises He had made. He also reminded me of Noah, who built an enormous boat in an area that was inland, far away from any large body of water, and at a time when the earth did not know flooding of the kind that we have now. But Noah believed what he had heard, and believed that he had heard God, and so he built the ark. People must have thought he was crazy, but that didn't matter, God did what he said he was going to do, and because Noah listened and trusted that what he heard was from God and that because it was from God it would happen, he and his family were saved from the flood.
I was talking to a Episcopal Priest friend of mine last summer about a promise God made to me that I was having a hard time believing. She is a beautiful woman from Paraguay, tiny in stature but enormous in heart, and she said something that I will never forget. She was quiet for a moment after I told her the promise and the vision that God had given me for the future, and then she said, "That is so beautiful. And that you believe will make all the difference. God will do what He said that He is going to do, no matter if you believe or not, but we always have the choice, whether we are going to be part of God's plan or not. He will do it with or without you. He will find someone else if you decide not to believe. But because you have decided to believe, you will be a part of this beautiful plan, and it will be a blessing not only to you but to many people."
Last night a friend wrote to me in his own words exactly what God had been speaking to me, and it was such a beautiful and much needed confirmation. I can know things intellectually, and I can have all the experiences in the world of how amazing God is and how much I can trust Him, but I’ve had so many experiences in my life with people who I couldn’t trust, who I thought I knew but who turned out to be something that I didn’t expect and that something wasn’t very good. Betrayals and let-downs and disappointments, one after the next, from people sometimes who talked a good game of being God loving and God fearing, but when the choice came to do the right thing or to protect their own interests, when the choice between the truth and a lie meant they might not get what they wanted or they might not look as good as they wanted to look, they stopped being able to look me in the eye because they were looking after themselves. I forget sometimes that God isn’t like people. 2 Timothy 2:13 tells us, "If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He is not able to deny Himself." Another translation reads, "If we have no faith, He will still be faithful, for He cannot go against what He is." Even when we are unfaithful, He is faithful. He makes a promise and He keeps it. He can’t tell a lie, and He knows they’re not necessary. In my life before I was born again, I've had my times of self seeking and being untruthful, and he’s shown me again and again how that’s just a waste of time and energy. When we do the right thing, He makes it work out beautifully, no matter what the other people around us are doing.

We always have choice with God. He created us to have free will and He never takes that away, even when we are born again. He will show us the right road, but we can always walk another way. He'll send reminders through people and things to get us back to the road to joy and blessing, but if we want to do things our way He'll let us. His plans will go ahead with or without us, and if we go along with Him, we can be a part of something much more beautiful than we could ever plan on our own.
Jannie Susan

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