Words Stronger than Oak
Here’s the truth …
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35 NIV).
Nothing makes me feel less important than when I go through the TSA at the airport. Just when I feel like I can take pride in knowing the rules—taking off my shoes and filling a bin with them and other items, I am told to remove my shoes from the bin now and place them directly onto the conveyer belt. Since when? Yet I hear the condescension in their voices that scream with their tone and their eyes, “You idiot!” And that voice in my head teeters between being mad at myself for not knowing the new rule and mad at the people who constantly change the rules.
Rules seem to change all the time, and I, for one, can’t keep up with them. I think of all that was the status quo just a few decades ago that are thought of as “improper” now. For example, I used to ride in the front seat of the car as a toddler! And I used to ride my bike to my friend’s house a few streets away before I was 10 years old! Now, both are taboo. I used to stay outside playing all day long and didn’t have a handheld gadget that could possibly compete with my neighborhood as my playground. I also needed to have a person’s phone number memorized because I had to dial it myself on my rotary phone. It used to be commonplace to pop over to someone’s house for a visit, but when was the last time I actually did that without making plans ahead of time and texting to confirm that it was still okay? With the onset of the computer and cell phones, all of those common practices have been replaced with new rules for how to govern our time.
Why can’t things stay fixed, like the unbending limbs of an oak tree? I think of the television show Jane the Virgin that I started watching recently. Jane decided at a young age when her grandmother had her crumple up a flower that she would remain a virgin until marriage. Try as she might, she could not get that crumpled flower to go back to its original perfect state--which was the grandmother’s point exactly--and it really affected Jane. People like Jane stand out because she made a commitment and stayed true to it (at least so far—I have only seen the first season). That just doesn’t happen much anymore. People make promises that they don’t keep today. Or they don’t bother to stand for something in the first place.
I just spoke with the lady who answers the phone at a chimney repair place. I called in early spring for masonry repair. I was told that the expert is extremely busy but I could count on him coming sometime in the near future. I called again at the beginning of summer and was told to be patient; he would come. It is now August. He has not come. He is too busy. And now, alas, he will never come. The woman said it was because he has had people work for him for two weeks at a time and then quit on him because they don’t want to work hard. He has no help and a pile of work that just never ends. So, in other words, he has to go back on his promise to do the work that I need done because people who promise to work for him go back on their promise. It’s a vicious cycle. In the meantime, the crack in my chimney isn’t going to fix itself. I finally had to break down and call another repairman. Sigh....
This reminds me of Pharaoh who made promises to Moses that he most certainly didn’t keep! Or Hosea’s wife who kept cheating on him. Or Judah’s abandonment of his son’s wife Tamar by not ensuring that she got the new husband she was promised. And let’s not forget about Peter who promised he’d never forsake Jesus.
Thus, in this world, we will always experience rule changing, commitment phobia, and people who won’t stay true to their word. But the God we serve is above all of that. His rules don’t change because His Word never changes. He vowed to bring the Israelites to the Promised Land and He did! He vowed to deliver them from the evil they kept encountering by sending a Savior. And He did! What are other promises of His that we can assuredly count on?
Just how strong are God’s words to us? Well, we know that “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35 NIV).
Worried about whether God loves you? Jesus says, “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them” (John 14:21 NLT).
Feeling alone? We are reminded in Hebrews from Deuteronomy 31:6 that “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).
Feeling anxious? God promises that “no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD; their vindication will come from me” (Isaiah 54:17 NLT).
Needing guidance about something? We are advised, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking” (James 1:5 NLT).
Feeling particularly guilty? We can be assured that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV).
I, for one, have witnessed on many occasions God fulfilling each of those promises in my life as well as countless others that I could have mentioned from His Word. The words of God are like an oak tree that is firmly rooted. As a result, it most assuredly is “better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people” (Psalms 118:8 NLT).
… and that’s the truth as I know it!