Friday, February 29, 2008

Realistic Expectations

"For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling..." (v.5)

It's a problem as people face marriage. It's a problem as people think about the workplace. It's a problem as couples anticipate the birth of their first child. It's a problem as we think about our friendships. It's a problem as people think about their life in the church. What is the problem that I'm talking about? It's the problem of unrealistic expectations. Why do we have unrealistic expectations for all of these inescapable dimensions of human life? We have them because we don't take seriously what the Bible has to say about the condition of the world in which we live. Here it is; sin has cast this world into trouble.

There's no escaping it, this world isn't functioning as it was designed to function. The Bible warns us that we're living in a world that's literally groaning, waiting for redemption. We live in a world where disease and death exist, neither one of which was part of the initial plan. We live in a world of deceit and disappointment, neither one a part of God's original intention. We live in a world of rebellion and sin, neither a part of the "good" that God created. We live in a world of suffering and loss, both so far from God's plan. We live in a world of violence and war, surely not the handiwork of the Prince of Peace. We live in a world where lust and greed motivate hearts, not what God intended the heart to do. We live in a world where all of these things touch all of our lives. No relationship is free of disappointment. No institution is totally free of corruption. No location is free of difficulty. No moment in our lives exists untouched by the fall.

Why is this so important to acknowledge? First, much of the disappointment we face is that we've carried unrealistic expectations into the situations and relationships of our daily lives and we do that because we've not taken seriously what the Bible says about the fallen world in which we all live. Here's an example I've seen again and again as I've worked with struggling husbands and wives. Couples enter marriage not taking seriously the fact that they're both flawed people, living in a fallen world. Because of this they don't prepare well, as individuals or as a couple, for the difficulties of building a healthy, God-honoring relationship. Consequently, they're caught short and unprepared as sin within and difficulty without rear their ugly heads in their marriage. Their unrealistic expectations lead to a lack of preparation, which cause them to react rather than act carefully. In the end they're not only suffering the troubles of life in this fallen world, but also they're suffering the fact that they've troubled their own trouble. All of this creates the tendency for a husband and wife to play to one another's weaknesses instead of their strengths, instead of preparing themselves with the wisdom principles of God's Word and seeking the enabling power of God's grace. God's Word is very, very honest about how broken the world we live in actually is. This honesty is God lovingly helping us to be aware and prepared as we live with one another and wait for the ultimate restoration of everything that is.

But there's something else. Unrealistic expectations cause each of us to live more independently and self-sufficiently than we ever should. In reality, we're all in need of daily rescuing, forgiving, and empowering grace. We need that grace because none of us is free from the presence and power of sin. This means that, moment by moment, we need to be rescued from us! We also need the grace of God so that we'll be able to love the weak and failing people that we're always in relationships with. But there's something else here. The Word of God is intended to be a "lamp to our feet and a light to our pathway." We'll only live properly in this broken world when we're being guided and protected by the light of its wisdom in the situations and relationships we live in every day. When I live unaware of how profound my need is and how broken my world is, I don't hunger for the brilliant wisdom of God's Word and I'm left to my own foolishness. And in my foolishness, I respond to things in a way that only deepens and complicates the troubles that I'm already struggling with.

You can be sure of this; your day of trouble will come. Yet, in your trouble God hasn't left you alone. What is it that he gives you in your trouble? He gives you himself! He is what will keep you safe. He is near and he comes to you armed with transforming grace and liberating wisdom. But its vital that you live with eyes and heart open to what Scripture says to you about you and the world in which you live. If you do, you'll live in a way that's humble and needy, seeking the grace and wisdom that you so desperately need and that God so willingly and lovingly gives. Be realistic. Remember, there's amazing grace for every realistic thing you'll be called to face.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Psalm 27: Fearless Forever

"The Lord is my light and salvation - whom shall I fear?" (v.1)

In a world that is held
in such deep darkness
where the light of truth
often seems more of a flicker
than a flame,
in a world where
and foolishness
divert and distort
the lives of so many,
in times when a myriad
say so
about so many things,
where confusion seems
readily available
and clarity seems
hard to find,
in a world where opinions
rise to a place
where only truth should be,
and every voice
seems to get an equal hearing,
in the constant cacophony
of ten thousand
contradictory voices,
it is a wonderful
and amazing thing
to be able to say
with rest and confidence,
The Lord is my Light!
My heart has been lit
by the illuminating
and protective glory
of His
powerful and transforming grace,
my mind has been renewed
by the luminescent presence
of His truth-guiding
Holy Spirit,
and my life has been guided
down straight paths
by the ever-shining lamp
of His Word.
I am not afraid,
but it is not because
I am strong
or wise.
I am not afraid,
but it is not because
I have power
or position.
I am not afraid,
but it is not because
I have health
or wealth.
I am not afraid;
but it is not because
my circumstances
or relationships
are easy.
I am not afraid
for one glorious reason;
I have been lit by the
Lord of Light.
In the darkness
of this fallen world,
I no longer walk
in the night,
but I have been given
the Light of Life.
I am not afraid
because Light lives in me.
This one amazing reality
gives me rest;
I have been rescued from
and transported into the
and I am not afraid.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Psalm 27: The World's Best Security System

"The Lord is my light and salvation - whom shall I fear?" (v.1)

It was only the second house we'd ever owned and we thought we ought to take all the necessary precautions to keep our family, our possessions and our investment safe. So we contacted the local security company and had them revitalize and update the security system that had been previously installed in the house. It should be called an insecurity system. It's never quite worked the way it was designed. The crucial motion detector that was installed in the living room malfunctioned quickly. The system is still there, but we never use it anymore.

There are all kinds of security systems that you can look to in your life. Perhaps you look to your investments; you track their growth, and you dream of the life they'll provide for you in the future. Yet in your heart of hearts you really do know that there is no such thing as a truly secure investment. Occasionally you do face the fact that the comfortable future that you've envisioned you may never experience because the return on those investments are determined by things that are way outside of your control. Or maybe your security system is your relationships. You've sought to build around yourself a circle of loving people. You're thankful every day for your family and friends. You find real comfort in their presence in your life and the love they seem to have for you. You do everything you can to make those relationships healthy. Yet in your quiet and reflective moments you know that you can't depend on the permanence of those people in your life. An accident or a disease could remove a loved one very quickly. Sin could do irrepairable damage to one of those relationships. A necessary move could put distance between you and someone you thought you'd always have near. Perhaps your security is in the body of Christ. You're deeply thankful that God has gifted you with a church that has practical biblical preaching and solid Christian fellowship. You should be thankful, but you should also face the fact that this side of eternity the body of Christ is marred by difficulty. Our family was in a wonderful church that radically changed with the removal of a leader due to ongoing sin.

Perhaps your security system is actually you. Maybe you live with lots of self-confidence. You had a plan for your life and so far you've been able to pull it off. You've been able to be successful at the things you've attempted. You've built business and economic success that appears to bode well for your future. You've learned to trust yourself. You've learned to trust your intuition and your instincts and you've learned when to act fast and when to hold your cards. You're pretty secure with the way that you've conducted your life. I had an investment banker who controlled the portfolio of many people tell me that he was at the top of his game. He had confidence in his own ability, as did many investors. But, it all came crashing down with one mistake. His error cost a client his fortune and his other customers quickly abandoned him.

Or maybe you have no security system at all. Maybe your days are a cycle of concern, fear and dread. Perhaps you hyper-analyze every decision you make and you brutalize yourself with doubt after you make them. Perhaps you look back with regret at past decisions. Perhaps you give yourself way too much credit for the development of your story. Maybe, if you were able to be honest, you'd have to admit that you not only fear people, circumstances, and the future, but you fear something nearer, you fear you. You've no confidence in yourself and you look at life as a big minefield. You're just working hard to not get blown up!

Deep in our hearts we all know that the typical places we look for security really offer us little of what we seek. That's why this Psalm is so practically important. The very first verse of Psalm 27 introduces us to the world's best security system. It isn't to be found horizontally as you scan all the potential places where security can be found. Deep and lasting security, resilient hope, and sturdy rest of heart and mind, can only be found vertically. You'll only know the rest for which you seek when you begin to embrace the astounding reality of who you are as a child of God. If you're God's child you're the object of the love of the person who rules everything that there is to rule. It's fundamentally impossible to be in a situation, location, or relationship where he's not present. It's impossible for anything to exist outside of the sphere of his control. It's impossible for anything or anyone to be more powerful than him. It's impossible for anything or anyone to be wiser than him. It's impossible; for what he desires, has chosen, and has planned not to come to be. He rules every microbe of physical and spiritual creation. There's no rule of law that stands above him. There's no one to whom he must answers. His is perfect in every way, existing entirely without flaw of will or character. He's the beginning and epicenter of everything that's good, loving, wise, and true. He never forgets and his never fails to deliver on any of his promises. And Scripture says that he exercises his rule for the sake of his body, the Church. (See Ephesians 2:22, 23.)

You're secure not because you have control or understanding. You're secure even though you're weak, imperfect, and short-sighted. You're secure for one reason and one reason alone. God exists and he is your Father. He'll never leave your side. He'll never fail to provide. He'll make good on everything he's promised. And he has the power to do so; HE IS LORD!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Psalm 27: On Christ the Solid Rock

"...he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon on rock." (v5b)

We all look for it. We all refuse to live without it. We all think we've found it, but it can only really be found one place. What is it that I'm talking about? Well, here it is; every human being is on a search somehow someway to find that solid rock on which to stand. That one thing that they can bank on. That one thing that will keep them upright when the storms of life are raging. That one thing that will remain firm for the duration. That one thing that will give them security when nothing else does. That one thing that will give them that deep and abiding inner sense of well-being that every rational human being desires. That one thing that gives you the courage to face what you otherwise wouldn't want to face. That one thing that you can rely on. That one thing that will keep you safe. Everyone is searching for that solid rock.

No human being enjoys feeling that they're living in the sinking sand of unpredictability, disappointment, and danger, with no rock to reach for and stand on. In fact, this quest, this desire for surety which is with us everyday, points us again and again to the reality of God's existence and our identity as his creatures, his image bearers. We aren't hardwired to live by instinct. Like God, we're in possession of thoughts, desires, and emotions. Like God, we're beings of vision and purpose. Like God, we're spiritual beings. As people made in his likeness, we long for our hearts to be satisfied and our minds at rest. We think, analyze, and wonder. We toss our lives over and over again in our hearts, trying our best to make sense of the mystery of our own story and recognizing the scary reality that there's little that we're actually in charge of. In our honest moments, we know that we couldn't have written ourselves into the situations, locations, and relationships that make up our daily lives. We couldn't have written the story of even one day. Yet, we long for our lives to make sense. We long to have meaning and purpose, and we long to have lasting stability.

The problem is, that the longer we live, the more we know that there's little around us in this fallen world that's truly stable. I have a wonderful marriage to a lady who in many ways is my hero, but our marriage is still marred by our sin and this reality still introduces pain and unpredictability into a relationship we've been working on for 37 years! You may think your job is a source of stability, but a bit of a turn in the global economy could have you out on the street in a relatively short period of time. It may seem that your material possessions are permanent, but every physical thing that exists is in a state of decay and even in their greatest longevity they don't have the ability to quiet your heart.

So here's the dilemma of your humanity. You're clearly not in control of the details or destiny of your life, yet as a rational, purposeful, emotional being, you cry for a deep and abiding sense of well-being. In your quest, what you're actually discovering is that you were hardwired to be connected to Another. You weren't hardwired to walk the pathway of life all by yourself. You weren't hardwired to be independently okay. You weren't hardwired to produce in yourself a system of experiences, relationships, and conclusions that would give you rest. You were designed to only find your "solid rock" in a dependent, loving worshipful relationship with Another. In this way, every human being is on a quest for God; the problem is we don't know that, and in our quest for stability, we attempt to stand on an endless catalog of God-replacements that end up sinking with us.

In fact, our inability to find security for ourselves is so profound that we'd never find the One who is to be our Rock on our own, no he must find us. The language of Psalm 27 is quite precise here, "he will...set me high upon a rock." It doesn't say, "I will find the rock and I will climb up on it."

Here's the hope for every weary traveler whose feet are tired of the slippery instability of mud of a fallen world. Your weariness is a signpost. It's meant to cause you to cry out for help. It's meant to cause you to quit looking for your stability horizontally and begin to cry out for it vertically. It's meant to put an end to your belief that situations, people, locations, possessions, positions, or answers will satisfy the longing of your heart. Your weariness is meant to drive you to God. He's the Rock for which you're longing. He's the one who alone is able to give to you the sense that all is well. And as you abandon your hope in the mirage rocks of this fallen world, and begin to hunger for the True Rock, he'll reach out and place you on solid ground.

There is a Rock to be found. There is an inner rest to be experienced that's deeper than conceptual understanding, human love, personal success, and the accumulation of possessions. There is a rock that will give you rest even when all of those things have been taken away. That rock is Christ and you were hardwired to find what you are seeking in him. In his grace, he won't play hide and seek with you. In your weakness and weariness, cry out to him. He will find you and he will be your Rock.

"On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Psalm 27: Sight Problems

"...that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord." (v.4)

I've learned so much from George. He's been my friend for over thirty years. He's a man of insight and determination. He's dealt with some of the harshest realities of life in this fallen world. George is blind. The things that George struggles with in his overt blindness have taught me much about the covert blindness of the heart that every sinner struggles with in some way. There's a way in which George's entire life is shaped by recognition of his blindness and daily strategies to compensate for it. I've learned so much from George.

1. I've learned that there are no more important set of eyes than the eyes of the heart. Yes, George is physically blind, but spiritually he's very good vision. Everyday George exercises that mysterious ability that God gives to his children to see the unseen. Now, to people who have embraced the truth that their entire hope in life is centered in a God of grace and glory who is a spirit, the exercise of this gift of spiritual sight is essential. I've learned from George that your life is always shaped by what your eyes see. If this is true of the physical eyes, how much more is it true of the eyes of the heart?

2. I've learned how important it is to humbly accept your blindness. George's life is one of courage, hope, and accomplishment precisely because he doesn't live in denial. As a young boy, he confronted the sad reality of his blindness and determined that he would do anything in his power to live, fully live, even though he was blind. Scripture is quite clear about the blinding power of sin. Sin is deceitful and guess who it deceives first? I have no problem whatsoever seeing the sin of my wife, children, and friends, but I can be quite surprised when mine is pointed out. Spiritual blindness not only blinds me to the reality of my sin, but it also blinds me to the glory of God that's everywhere around me. God has created his world to be a constant sight and sound display of his power, glory, faithfulness, and love. Yet, the eyes of my heart can be so clouded by the duties of the day, by the busyness of the schedule, and by the problems of life, that I don't see the God of grace whose glory is evident everywhere I look. Like George, I need to accept that I have a significant sight problem that has the power to radically alter the way I live my life.

3. I've learned that you always deal with your blindness in community with others. When George got serious about dealing with his handicap, he welcomed people in his life who had the concern, knowledge and skills to help him. Hebrews 3:13 talks about how we need to "encourage one another daily less we become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." The fact of the matter is this; personal spiritual insight is the product of community. I need people who not only help me to see what I couldn't see without them, but I also need people who will loving help me to admit how blind I actually am and who will teach me how to live, fully live. Even as long as sin remains in me, I will continue to have pockets of spiritual blindness.

4. I've learned to long for 20/20 vision. George has learned to accept his blindness. He's learned to open himself up to a community of help. He's learned how to compensate for his handicap. But, George is not content. He longs for the day when he'll be given eyes that see clearly. He looks expectantly for the day when he'll no longer be blind. In the same way, there should be a deep desire in the heart of every sinner to see, really see. We should be tired of being deceived. We should be weary of being blind again and again to the beauty-display of the glory of God that's everywhere around us and that's meant to fill us with a moment-by-moment sense of his presence and grace. We should be tired of the way our lives are bent and twisted by our blindness; tired of the reality that we wouldn't do and say the things that we do if we were really able to see. And we should live for the day when the eyes of our heart will no longer be blind and, with 20/20 vision we will be welcomed to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord forever!

I've learned so much from George. I've learned that I'm more like him than unlike him, and in a profound way, that's changed my life.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Psalm 27: What is Your One Thing?

"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seek him in his temple.) (v.4)

It's an incredible statement, one that I'm not sure I could honestly make. It's made even more powerful when you realize that it's written by a man who's under attack. His "one thing" isn't safety, or vindication, or victory. His "one thing" isn't power, control, or retribution. No, even under personal duress, the
"one thing" that David wishes for is to be in God's house taking in the grandeur and glory of the beauty of the Lord. This desire was designed to be the central motivating desire of every person created by God and made in his image. And yet, this side of the Garden, it seems a statement that could only ever be made by a deeply devout human being.

It does beg the question, "What's your one thing?" What's the "one thing" that your heart craves? What's the "one thing" that you think would change your life? What's the "one thing" that you look to for satisfaction, contentment, or peace? What's the "one thing" that you mourn that you've had to live without? What's the "one thing" that fills your day-dreams and commands your sleepy meditations? What's your one thing?

The spiritual reality for many of us is that that "one thing" is not the Lord. And the danger in that reality is this; your "one thing" will control your heart and whatever controls your heart will exercise inescapable influence over your words, choices, and actions. Your "one thing" will become the one thing that shapes and directs your responses to the situations and relationships of your daily life. If the Lord isn't your "one thing," the thing that is your "one thing" will be your functional lord.

Here's what you say to yourself when something is your "one thing," "Life only has meaning and I only have worth if I have___________ in my life." The problem is that the "one thing" catalog is virtually endless:

1. Power: Life only has meaning/I only have worth, if I have power and influence
over others.
2. Approval: If I'm loved and respected by________.
3. Comfort: If I have this kind of pleasure/experience.
4. Image: If I have a certain look or body image.
5. Control: If I'm able to have mastery over this area of my life.
6. Helping: If people are dependent on me and need me.
7. Dependence: If someone is there to keep me safe.
8. Independence: If I'm completely free of the obligation or responsibility to take
care of someone.
9. Work: If I'm highly productive and get a lot done.
10. Achievement: If I'm recognized for my accomplishments.
11. Materialism: If I've a certain level of wealth, finance, nice possessions.
12. Religion: If I'm adhering to my religion's codes and accomplished in it's
13. Individual person: If this one person is in my life and happy there and/or
happy with me.
14. Irreligious: If I am totally independent of organized religion and have a self- made morality.
15. Racial/cultural: If my race and culture are ascendant and recognized as superior.
16. Inner ring: If a particular social or professional group lets me in.
17. Family: If my children/parents are happy/happy with me.
18. Suffering: If I'm hurting or in a problem, only then do I feel noble, worthy of
love or free of guilt.*

You see, in every situation and relationship of your everyday life, there's a "one thing" war being fought on the turf of your heart. You and I are only safe when the Lord really is the "one thing" that commands our hearts and controls our actions. Yet there are many things that compete with him to be the "one thing" that's the one thing that your heart craves.

Where are you looking for meaning and worth? What's the "beauty that you wish you had in your life? What's your "one thing?"

*List adapted from Hannibal Silver (Doctor of Ministry Project, Westminster Theological Seminary)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Psalm 27: Two Words You Never Want to Hear

"Do not turn your servant away in anger." (v.9b)

It is such a comfort
to me,
such a source
of hope
and strength
and daily joy.
It gives me reason
to get up in the morning
and to press on
when I am discouraged
and weak
and lonely
and afraid.
It gives me reason
to face with courage
the struggles within
and the difficulties without.
It reminds me
that I can stand
before you
as I am,
completely unafraid
and ask of you
what I have asked before
and will ask again,
Your forgiveness
and Your help.
What gives me this
What offers me this
It is this one thing.
I know for certain
that there are
two words
that I'll never hear.
I know that You will never
look me in the eye
and say to me,
"Go away!"
You will not send me
from your presence.
You will not drive me
from your grace.
You will not separate me
from your glory.
You will not eliminate me
from your promises.
You will never
send me away.
Because your anger
was borne by Another.
Because my separation
was carried by Him.
Because He was
sent away,
I will never be.
So, in weakness,
and sin,
I stand before you once more
with courage,
and joy,
because I know
that in all the
dark things that
may be whispered to me
in this dark and fallen world
there are two words I will never hear.
And so with gratitude and joy
I get up to face the day
but as I do, I do it
without fear.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Psalm 27: Sign Beauty

" gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple." (v.4c)

God has filled his world with beauty.
There is the beauty of:
the delicate orchid
the spotted leopard
the multi-hued sunset
the pillowy cloud
the golden sun
the delicious meal
the giant oak
the irridescent snake
the white-capped wave
the ribbony grain of wood
the song of a bird
endless variety of music
the flash of lightening
the shimmering scales of a fish
the new white snow
the rugged rocks of the mountain
the tender kiss
the whisper of the breeze
the green curtain of the leaves
the security of a father's voice
the tender touch of a mother's hand
the crystal display of a starry night
the percussive song of a rainy day
the green of the pasture
the blue of the sky
the black of the night
the brown of the soil
the yellow of the bee
the red of the rose
the white of the cloud.

All of the things have been painted with beauty, but it is not ultimate beauty. The beauty of the created world was never meant to be the beauty that would fill the eyes of our hearts. It was never meant to be the beauty to which we would look for satisfaction and peace. It was never meant to be the beauty that we would give ourselves to search for, live for, cry for, and die for. No, the physical glories of this created world are meant to be sign glories. The amazing beauty that surrounds us every day was designed to be sign beauty. All of the beautiful things that we see, touch, taste and hear every day, were designed to be signs that would point to the ultimate beauty that can only be found in the One who created them.

So, when you're looking at the beauty that surrounds you in the physical world that's your present home, require yourself to look beyond the signs to the stunning beauty of the God to whom each sign points. Only his beauty can give you hope, strength, and peace. Only his beauty can give you life. Don't be like the family that saved for a year to experience the glories of Disney World, packed the car in anticipation, drove hundreds of miles, and stopped at the first Disney World sign and had their vacation.

Perhaps our hearts feel empty and our souls are dissatisfied because we've tried to get from sign beauty what only ultimate beauty can give us. Look beyond the orchid, the lightening, the bird, and the leaf and see the Lord. In him you will find true beauty, the kind that really does satisfy.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Psalm 27: Inner Strength

"Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (v.14)

This side of eternity you and I are called to wait. We're called to recognize that the most important, most essential, most beautiful, and most lasting things in our life are things over which we have no control. No, these things are the gracious gifts of a loving Father. He never is foolish in the way he dispenses his gifts. He never plays favorites. He never mocks our neediness. He never plays bait and switch. He never teases or toys with us. His timing is always right and the gifts that he gives are always appropriate to the moment. He is kind, faithful, loving, merciful, and good.

The One on whom we wait is a dissatisfied Messiah. He will not relent, he will not quit, he will not rest until ever promise he has made been fully delivered. He will not turn from his work until every one of his children has been totally transformed. He will continue to fight until the last enemy is under his feet. He will reign until his kingdom has fully come. As long as sin exists, he will shower us with forgiving, empowering, and delivering grace. He will defend us against attack and attack the enemy on our behalf. He will be faithful to convict, rebuke, encourage, and comfort. He will continue to open the warehouse of his wisdom and unfold for us the glorious mysteries of his truth. He will stand with us through the darkness and the light. He will guide us on a path we could never have discovered or would never have been wise enough to choose. He will supply for us every good thing that we need to be what he's called us to be and to do what he's called us to do in the place where he's put us. And he will not rest from his work until every last microbe of sin has been completely eradicated from every heart of each of his children!

Yet, with all of this being true, we find it hard to wait. We aren't always "strong" in our waiting. No, waiting for many of us becomes a time for increasing fear, doubt, discouragement and susceptibility to temptation. As faith grows weak, our resolve begins to dim, and we begin to secretly wonder if its worth it to obey.

Why? Why do we struggle to be "strong and take heart," when we are being called to wait? Perhaps the answer is found in Romans 4: 18-21.

"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father
of many nations, just as it has been said to him, 'So shall your
offspring be.' Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that
his body was as good as dead - since he was about a hundred years
old - and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver
through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened
in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God
had the power to do what he had promised."

Why did Abraham grow stronger in faith as he waited those many long years? It isn't because he played mental denial games. No, the passage makes it very clear that he faced the facts of the situation head on. In his time of waiting, Abraham had a very different experience than we often do because Abraham did something that we often fail to do. Here it is. The temptation, in times of waiting, is to focus on the thing we are waiting for, all the obstacles that are in the way, our inability to make it happen, and all of the other people who haven't seemed to have had to wait. Along with this we rehearse to ourselves how essential the thing is and how much we are daily losing in its absence. All of this increases our feeling of helplessness, our tendency to think our situation is hopeless, and our judgment that waiting is futile.

While it's true that Abraham considered the facts, they weren't the focus on his meditation. No, his focus was on the God who had made this promise. Everyday Abraham would get up and remind himself that the God who'd made the promises on which he was waiting was absolutely able to deliver them. The God who made heaven and earth would have no trouble causing an old woman to deliver a promised child! Abraham didn't fill his mind with his own weakness and the seeming futility of the situation. No, he filled his mind again and again with the glory of God's immeasurable power, and as he did, he grew stronger and stronger in faith.

Somewhere in your life you are being called to wait. In your waiting, you are being given an opportunity to deepen and strengthen your faith. So, get up tomorrow and fill yourself with vitamins of truth. Nourish your heart with the nutrient food of the glory of God. Feed on the strength-giving meat of his goodness, grace, and love. Snack throughout the day on his power and his presence. And watch the muscles of your heart grow stronger as the days go by. Feed on your Lord and be strong!