All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. (Hebrews 11:39)
Relate: For the first time this season, I woke up this morning to snow on the ground. It’s winter time. First thing I wanted to do was crawl back into my bed, throw the covers over my head and pray that I’m dreaming. For all of my adult life I have been a summer boy. Spring brings the promise of new life. Autumn the wise reminder to enjoy fleeting beauty while it lasts. Summer is where I truly come alive. But winter? Winter brings cold, bleak, wet, death.
It wasn’t always that way. I can imagine the time when that wasn’t so. The first true snowfall would bring excitement and joy. It would be the promise that Christmas is coming. Pretend for a minute that you, and I are young again and that excitement is bubbling up in our soul…
You’ve been begging and whining and cajoling your parents for months to get you a pony. Your world will be complete if only you had one of the placid little horses that you could ride around in and pretend you were queen of the world. You’ve imagined the name, thought up games you could play, and wondered what the little horse would eat. Then one day, as you are walking by, you happen to overhear your parents talking. Mommy tells daddy that she already got you a pony. Your heart skips a beat. As the days march closer to Christmas you begin to wonder where they are keeping it. Is it in the garage? Nope. The toolshed? Nope. Maybe down in the basement? Nope. Maybe they are keeping it at someone else’s house until that beautiful day that pony will be yours.
It seems forever before Christmas Day finally arrives. At times a little doubt has been creeping in, but no. Mommy doesn’t lie. You heard her say she got you a pony and, by golly, that is what you are getting. Christmas Eve seems to take forever. They make you go to this boring service where at one point you have to sing Away in the Manger with all the other kids even though you don’t know all the words. The only fun you have is dripping candle wax on to the pew, but when daddy catches you doing it he takes your candle away. That’s OK, you’re getting a pony tomorrow morning. You can suffer a little bit of boredom now. Sleep comes eventually, and then the morning. You run down the stairs. No pony. You run out to the garage, no pony. Maybe they want you to open the other presents first so you begin to attack them with gusto. Three presents in, you understand and the disappointment sets in. There, behind the plastic and the cardboard box is your very own little pony.
React: Can you imagine the disappointment? You are convinced of the promise for your future, and it never comes to pass. You are positive you have it figured out exactly how it will work and then fate throws a wrench in the castles built in your mind. Inadvertently, your parents taught you a cruel truth about life. But sometimes, doesn’t it seem as though God works the very same way? You thought you had a promise from Him, but when time plays out it seems that all you’ve got is a cheap plastic toy. Let’s get to the core question, if God is good, why did this happen? He has promised something in His Word but I have never seen it in my life. What’s happening?
We have a list of great men and women in the Bible. They took some amazing risks and accomplished great things for God. But none of them received what He had promised. None of them. Why? Because God had promised something better for us. You. Me. Them. Us. And only together will we find the perfect. We dream of ponies, and we are disappointed with baubles, but God has something far better in store than what we have received or even what we imagined. One day we will ride a stallion in the army of our King. One day we will actually see God in all the greatness of His glory and that is what heaven is all about.
Dear God, help me to hold on to my faith through all the disappointments. Help me to learn to work through my doubts rather than try to bury them until they explode in unbelief. Help me to live in the tension between the now and the not yet. Help me to trust for Your promises in the now even as I realize that ultimately this world isn’t good enough for what You have in mind. Above all else, help me to never ever forget that You are good.