“And you will say on that day: “Thank the Lord; call on God’s name; proclaim God’s deeds among the peoples; declare that God’s name is exalted.” Isaiah 22:4 CEB
When we moved from Jacksonville to Dunedin in 2008 our girls were 9 and almost 7 years old. It was a difficult move because, at the time, Jacksonville was all they knew. We had spent five really good years there. They went from preschool through third and first grade while we lived in Jacksonville. It was hard for them to leave their friends and school. However, I believe one of the most difficult things for them was to leave their home, especially the backyard. It was a large backyard with trees, a playset, and lots of room to run around. When we told them about the move we assured them we would do everything we could to help them make a smooth adjustment to the new house, school, and church. I remember telling them certain things like, “There’s a big tree in the backyard. Maybe we could build a treehouse for you in that tree.” I do not remember it being a promise —only an idea. Well, we made the move to our new house, we adjusted to a new church, new friends, and a new school. The girls did beautifully at all of this and it seemed all was well. Except for the promise I don’t think I ever made.
One night several years later the girls were upset with something that was happening. They were particularly not happy with me. When we started to discuss this it came out that I never keep my promises. As I started to try and understand this assertion it became very clear to me that the girls saw the talk of the treehouse as a promise I had made to them. As I recall, the discussion of the treehouse was a one-time discussion that lived in the realm of a “maybe we could” project. It had never come up again. The house had a pool, a big back porch, and many more wonderful features we all were enjoying. I had not really thought much at all about the prospect of a treehouse. The issue was that the girls had thought about it and, apparently, they had thought about it a lot. We talked it through and they understood that I had not understood it the same way they had. In fact, we never built a treehouse at that house. I believe they were okay with that. Although, if you were to ask them today how they feel they may still say I broke my promise.
Have you ever had someone break their promise? It could have been something pretty simple or it could have been something extremely important. It hurts when someone breaks their promise. It could be they promised to have lunch with you. Maybe you even set the date and time only to be stood up and some lame excuse offered afterward. Perhaps you have had the promise of a promotion, raise, or more responsibility from a boss only to have it never materialize. Even worse, maybe you have had the promise made to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health, for rich or for poor, until death, only to be broken through divorce. It hurts when someone breaks their promise. A promise made should be a promise kept. Yet, in our current culture that is not always the case. In fact, it seems like the more we look at the way things are today there are more promises broken than kept. We won’t even get started on politicians and promises made during campaigns. We may have even become a little numb and desensitized to the hurt of broken promises today.
The good news is that there is one area of our life where we are assured this won’t happen. We can trust God to never break a promise made. We do not have to fear disappointment or hurt from a broken promise with Jesus. When God makes a promise it is as good as gold. Throughout Scripture there are many examples of how God promised to be there for humanity. Whenever God made a promise, it was kept. Jesus promised to be with those who follow him always. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be given as an assurance of Jesus’ continued presence with us. These promises and so many more are always kept, always true, and perfect. This Advent we focus on the promise of salvation given to the people of God through Isaiah. The foreshadowing is to the promise of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ—the promised Messiah/Savior. Jesus is evidence that God always keeps the promises God makes—always!
This is what brings us great joy. Being assured that we can place our hope, or trust, in Jesus. Knowing that God loves us enough to always make a way for us to be in relationship with God through faith in Jesus. This is what it means to experience joy through our relationship with Jesus. As promised in Isaiah, we will be able to “ … say on that day: ‘Thank the Lord; call on God’s name; proclaim God’s deeds among the peoples; declare that God’s name is exalted.’” We both anticipate and remember the coming of Jesus into the world through the lens of the hope, love, joy, and peace made possible by the birth of Jesus. Just as Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and for all time … the promises of God are sure for all time. With God a promise made is a promise kept.
This week put your hope in the fact that God loves you and will keep every promise made in Scripture. May that bring you great joy this week and always.
This weekend at all four worship services we continue the Advent message series Prepare the Way. Isaiah foretold of the promise of the Savior. This weekend we will explore how the knowledge of God’s faithfulness brings us great joy. I hope you will join us this weekend and every weekend. The best is yet to come for St. Andrew’s as we are on mission together. I can’t wait to see you in church!