I have a problem of saying dumb things to people. One of the dumbest things I’ve said is one that I often catch myself repeating, falling headfirst into my own conversation trap over and over again. Maybe it’s happened to you. I’ll be small talking with a friend or acquaintance when his or her parents happen by. What happens next is a textbook foot-in-mouth scenario. With total sincerity and goodwill, I’ll say something like, “Hey, is this your grandparents?” And my conversation buddy will consequently respond, “No (idiot), these are my parents!” Backstepping, I’ll usually follow that up with another dumb statement about the aging process and the effects of global warming, or sometimes I’ll wise-up and just shut my mouth.
Because this happens to me so often, I can’t help but wonder how often it must have happened to Isaac in the Old Testament. I can just imagine Isaac with his buddies playing bocce ball on the desert sand when ole Abe walks up, 100 years his elder. One of his buddies asks, “Hey Isaac, is this your great granddad?!” “No, actually, this is my DAD! Thanks!” No milk and honey for you, pal.
It’s hard to imagine how Abraham must have felt to find out from God that he was to have a son so late in life. And not just any son, but a son who would begin the lineage of a great nation from whom Jesus Christ would eventually come. We know from the Genesis account that Sarah, Abraham’s wife, laughed hysterically when she heard the news (Gen. 18:12). But Abraham had a different response. Romans 4:20-21 says:
20 He (Abraham) did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.
Abraham had the perfect opportunity to doubt God’s promise. At 99 years of age, this was prime time for Abraham to spit in God’s face and say, “Guess what God, You forgot me! You failed to keep your promise! Congratulations! You strung me along for 99 years believing a stupid fairy tale. Funny joke, God!”
That’s probably how you or I would have acted, but not Abraham. Romans 4:21 says that he was “fully convinced that what (God) had promised He was also able to perform.” The word “fully convinced” is the same word that Luke uses to open up his gospel, proving that what he was writing was “confirmed with the fullest evidence.”[i] Paul means very much the same thing, that Abraham was so convinced of God’s ability to keep His promises that it was as sure as a scientific formula. Paul even goes further by using a nautical metaphor, a metaphor for ships that would come in the harbor sailing full sail. Confident captains propelled these vessels full sail despite storms and high seas because they were fully convinced that they would make it safely to the harbor.[ii]
I just talked to a man yesterday who has been going through 15 years of storms and high seas – some, no fault of his, others brought on by his own choices. As a young man, he was convinced that the Lord had a great plan for his life, though as the years went on he tried to run from it. Now, after 15 years of struggles, he has a renewed “fully convinced-ness.” He believes again that the Lord is not through with him, and so do I.
My wife’s life verse is Philippians 1:6 that says, “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” I am fully convinced of this. I’ve seen it play out in my own life. I’ve seen it play out in the lives of others.
No matter where you’re at in life, no matter what you may or may not be fully convinced of, know that His promise is sure. Whatever end of the spectrum of “fully convinced” you are on – whether you’re a Sarah, laughing hysterically at the promises of God, or an Abraham, standing undeterred on the promises of God – His promises stay the same and they are sure. Because “it is not the promise that fails, but our faith that fails when we stagger.”[iii]
“Standing on the promises that cannot fail
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail
By the living Word of God I shall prevail
Standing on the promises of God”
– Russell Kelso Carter, Standing on the Promises
“My soul secure,
Your promise sure,
Your love endures, always.”
– Marty Sampson, For Who You Are, Hillsong Music Australia, 2006.
[i] Spiros Zodhiates, The Key Word Study Bible
[ii] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry Unabridged Commentary