We’re sixteen days into a brand new year and promises are on my mind; good ones and ones that don’t seem all that, well, promising!
For example, recently National Post columnist Michael Den Tandt caught my attention when he wrote that there is a “demoralizing cascade of broken promises that follows every election of every political party ever.” After each election there is a “rush headlong into the concrete pylon of reality on file after file” which always results in new governments having to “manage down expectations” (“Let’s make this promise — no more campaign promises,” 5 January 2016). I’ve run into a few concrete pylons of reality myself and had to manage some expectations down in my time. That can be demoralizing.
On the other hand, one morning recently the introduction to the Lord’s Prayer in Daily Prayer for Epiphany Season also caught my eye. “Believing the promises of God,” it read, “as our Saviour taught us, so we pray…” Do I really believe God’s promises, I wondered? Or do concrete pylons of reality in my life demoralize and have me managing my expectations of God down?
The older I get, the more I’m convinced that God’s promises begin and end with Jesus Christ. Jesus is where my belief and expectations must begin and end, too. He is God’s long foretold and best promise, kept.
But what about the promises God has yet to keep? It seems we’ve been waiting a long time for Jesus to come again, for all those swords to be turned into ploughshares (Micah 4.3), and lions to lie down with the lambs (Isa 11.6). Does the long wait and the concrete reality pylons of ISIS atrocities, unemployment, missing and murdered women, broken families, human trafficking—the list goes on—mean I have to manage my expectations of God down?
I think not. God is not a politician. God’s time zone is different from mine. With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, wrote Peter, and a thousand years as one day. So although I have been waiting for what seems to me to be a long time and may have to wait a long time yet, that does not mean God’s promises are broken. Rather, God is patiently and mercifully allowing time enough for all to reach repentance and not perish (2 Peter 3.8-9) by rushing headlong into the eternal concrete pylon of reality.
The good news is, when the time is right, all God’s promises will find their yes in Jesus (2 Cor 1.20).