“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world…” – 2 Peter 1:2-4
One of the most rewarding things about being in Christ is also sometimes one of the scariest. It’s not the fear of persecution, as it was for the early church… neither is it the paradigm shift that comes with laying to rest our old selves and embarking upon a new life. No, it’s the full and certain realization that God can be utterly, totally and in all ways completely relied upon that can cause some sleepless nights.
Because God makes us guarantees when He makes promises. There’s nothing empty or idle about the things that He says. We’re used to taking the word of others in the world with a pinch of salt. Nothing can be truly relied upon in the world we came from, so when someone offers us something that seems too good to be true, it usually is: when someone promises us the moon, it’s usually because they’re planning on dropping their trousers.
God is the source of all true trust and faith, because He never lets anyone down—never has, never will. That’s a truism that we’ve taken for granted for so long that it’s become a cliché. But think about what that truly means…it means that when God tells us something about our lives or promises to change them, He’s 100% gung ho about it, completely committed, and unshakeably positive about the new experience He’s offering. He can’t be dismissed, fobbed off, hand-waved away or shut down—all of our old tricks to avoid being let down are useless to us now, because God will never let us down.
As the children of God, we define ourselves through Him: through the promises, prophecies and possibilities He proclaims into our lives. We’re able to hold onto His Word, to allow the promises made to us to take root in our psyches. That’s the scary thing: God’s promises are sure things. We can take them to the bank, which means that there’s no excuse for us not living up to them.
That’s not to say that God’s promises are immediate. Don’t forget, the Lord God Almighty exists outside of what we consider to be normal time and space…and he can see us at every part of our lives and loves us anyway. Gods Word may be inviolable, but it doesn’t always rely upon perfect timing. That’s part of the reason why we can often receive Words some time before they’re due: in many cases, what seems forever.
God’s promises need not necessarily be understood when first delivered to us— but when we elect to cash in on the promise, we’ll have all the tools we need to understand and act upon it, applying it confidently and banishing the niggling doubts, fears and anxieties.
When the angel Gabriel visited Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, it was to announce to them the fact of their as-yet-unconceived son John’s great place in the legacy and history of the Christian church. Both of them are old enough that they’d resigned themselves to never having children: the archangel relays the Word to them, telling them about how a child of theirs will be one of the greatest prophets in the history of the Christian church. He then flits over to Nazareth and relays a similar Word to Mary, Elizabeth’s relative—only this future child will become the Son of God in mortal form. It took both women years before they would see any real sign of these Words bearing fruit, but their faith remained unshakable.
God gave Elizabeth and Mary the guarantee of a future blessing, even though the circumstances had not yet arisen whereby the blessing could be achieved. Because God is infallibly reliable, the most trustworthy person in and outside all creation, they knew that they could step back into Him in faith and rely upon that blessing.
But we’re naturally impatient beings, aren’t we? After all, a blessing for the future doesn’t help us now. This is old covenant thinking—we exist today in a post-resurrection culture of the church and of the Kingdom. The old culture of visitation had seasons: stories and circumstances whereby God’s will was made manifest in miracles and wonders. The new culture of habitation isn’t seasonal, but eternal: Christ is in us, and we are in Christ. We’re living in the time of God, and His time is our time. Just because we live within history and the Father lives outside of history doesn’t mean that we get to moan and strop when a promise is delivered to us to mature at an unspecified future time.
It’s our time. It’s our time to peel off our past like badly fitting clothes and step into something bigger and better, something that fits the new us perfectly. And recognizing that it’s our time now renders impatience redundant: we begin to experience time in a similar manner and can see the future blessing of God’s promise for what it is. It’s something incoming, traveling towards our lives far faster than we can scamper towards it ourselves.
Just as we learn patience by example, so too we learn the brilliance of the Kingdom through our experience of Christ and the Spirit. Everything we learn, we will need to experience the life to come as we should. It’s vital that we learn to become brilliant, to render ourselves outstanding. Anything is possible within Christ. We need to learn how to see ourselves as majestic creatures, as God sees us.
We have progressed from a culture of visitation to one of habitation. God sent His Son to take on the terrible weight of the sins of mankind, past and future, and His Son lives within us still, His presence evident in our hearts and in our lives.
Go through your personal journal of Words, prophecies and dreams. Find the promises, and incorporate them into your meditational times. Always have them lying in the forefront of your thinking, no matter what your circumstances. We should never need a new Word when a past and present Word will do the job.
Sometimes we need to go back to the future to obtain our guarantee of the present. In Christ, then is now.