A Choice to Believe

It’s a common refrain in movie scripts: “I’ll come back for you,” says the hero. “I promise.” And in those scripts, the hero always keeps his promises.

But real life isn’t a make-believe script. God isn’t beholden to our expectations. Prayers don’t always get the answers we want. Many Christians have grown tired and frustrated waiting for God to act on their personal priorities. They are living as if God’s promises can no longer be trusted.

That’s a big problem. How can God’s mission be accomplished if His people simply don’t believe Him? Is God’s apparent inaction at fault, or is there something wrong with our human inability to see the big picture?

Scripture reminds us Abraham waited 75 years for a God-promised son. Noah reached out for 120 years to his community, urging them to return to God before the promised judgement day. What kept Abraham or Noah from giving up their faith in God’s promises after all those years?

Let’s not forget the “longest” promise of them all. The promise of a Messiah, first given to Adam and Eve, took almost 4,000 years to be completed. Scripture testifies that “in the fullness of time” Jesus, the Messiah, was born of Mary.

These and other examples in Scripture are a rebuke to our impatience regarding God’s promises. As He departed from His disciples, Jesus promised that He would come again. It’s been nearly 2,000 years — but so far that’s only half the time it took for the prophecy of the first Advent to be fulfilled. Those of us who have been schooled to expect two-hour movie conclusions or half-hour television resolutions have much to learn about faith in God’s timing. It affects not only how we relate to Jesus’ assurance as He left the first time — “I will come back for you, I promise” — but also everything else He said.  

I have determined to take Jesus at His word. It’s my choice to believe. His timing is often different than mine, but His promises always work together for good.  

Jesus also promised Holy Spirit power to His followers in words recorded in Acts 1: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” This promise must be fulfilled for God’s church to carry out the mission He has given us. Therefore, I believe this promise is one He wants to pour out upon each of us right now.

Here’s why. Jesus said in Luke 11:13, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Once we accept Jesus as Savior and Redeemer, our greatest need is the Holy Spirit. This is a gift given, not earned. Yet the Spirit is given in response to our request, to our willingness to ask, seek and knock.  

Our North Pacific Union Conference executive committee and office staff began 2019 with 20 days of prayer for spiritual renewal. We spent a week of prayer together focused on spiritual renewal. Our prayer is for the fire of revival to spread across this entire union.

To be mission-focused is to believe in the promises of God — the One who said, “I’ll come back for you, I promise,” the same One who searched for the lost coin and the one lost sheep. Belief in His promises will cause us not only to seek for spiritual renewal, but also for the salvation of souls throughout our communities.

I invite you to join us.