You will find rest

But God always keeps his promises

Psalm 145:2, 4, 13-14 I will praise you every day. … Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power. I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles … I will share the story of your wonderful goodness. … The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does. The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads.

It helps. It really does.

When Karis and I came to Pittsburgh in March 2004 for the terrifying prospect of intestinal transplant, not knowing anyone, feeling completely alone and vulnerable, leaving a fruitful and creative life behind, I made a decision. I would find something to thank God for every day. No matter what happened, I would look for what God was doing. “I will praise you every day.” It wasn’t easy, because terrifically painful things occurred, and sometimes the battle for Karis’s life seemed endless.

But I learned a way of seeing, in, through, and beyond the circumstances of a given day or hour. That practice continues to shape me. When troubling and difficult things happen, I know that’s not the whole story. God is keeping his promises today, even with the hard thing I face now. Whatever it is at a given time.

God is gracious in all he does. He helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads.

What weight are you carrying today? Allow the Lord to bear it with you. Ask a friend to help you do this. Maybe you’ve picked up more than is meant for you. Maybe you’ve let others overload you. Perhaps saying “no” can be a good thing, for you and for others. I need this kind of help a lot.

Shutterstock: Sergey Nivens

What is tripping you up? Stretch out your hand to his strong and loving and faithful one. Let him help you get back on your feet. Perhaps the physical hand grasping yours belongs to one of his people. We are all called to be the Lord’s Body in the world, helping each other as Jesus would if he still lived physically among us.

Has someone you trusted betrayed you? Have you betrayed a promise to someone you love? Lean into God’s faithfulness. The promise-keeper can help you repair and heal your heart and give you strength to live faithfully.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” Matthew 11:28-30).

Remember and tell!

But God stands by his covenant 

Psalm 105:1-2, 7-8 Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds. … He is the Lord our God. His justice is seen throughout the land. He always stands by his covenant—the commitment he made to a thousand generations.

Matthew 26:28 This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.

I was only thinking of three generations when I wrote Karis: All I See Is Grace: my own generation, my children, and my grandchildren, yet unborn. I wanted my children’s spouses and my future grandchildren to know what God had done in our family through his faithfulness to Karis. Verses 1 and 2 of this psalm were part of what motivated me to persist through the three years it took me to write the book, along with Psalms 78:4-7, 102:18, 107:2, 118:17, and 145:4 and 12. All of them instruct us to remember and to tell what God does for us.

Imagine making a commitment to a thousand generations! I know that number means “all the generations to come,” but if we think about it literally and conservatively, choosing twenty years as the length of a generation, a thousand generations is 20,000 years. God keeps his covenant for at least that long. All recorded history is a small dent. Here we are, in our generation, still praising God for his faithfulness to us. If we notice what God does for us when it happens, remember it, and tell others, we’ll be part of Asaph’s vision in Psalm 78.

Last week in Idaho, my sister Marsha and I put together the “reunion puzzle” our daughter Valerie created from photos of the members of the extended Elliott family, in keeping with our reunion theme, “Pieces of a Whole.” The progeny of my parents, Ray and Helen Elliott, now numbers 81, with three to be born in the next three months.

Our reunion puzzle
Three more babies coming, in September, October, and November!

As the beloved faces emerged in the puzzle, I prayed for each of us to remember and celebrate God’s covenant of love for us, in the past, in the present, and stretching into the future to those not yet born and those yet to be brought into the family by marriage or by adoption.

Keeping covenant is costly. It’s not simple or easy. It cost God the life of his son. That’s the measure and standard he set for us. Today, my 68th birthday, I’m asking him to show me day by day in this next year how to live out his covenant; with more boldness remembering and telling, “so the next generation will set its hope anew on God” (Psalm 78:4-7).

But God saves everyone who calls on his name

Acts 2:17-21 “In the last days,” God says, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams… And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below… But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[Peter, quoting Joel 2:28-32]

I often hear people say they think we’re entering the “last days,” when eschatological promises will be fulfilled. My husband Dave sometimes looks up at the clouds and says, “Jesus could come back today!”

Yes, he could. Interestingly, Peter himself, two thousand years ago, thought his generation might be the last on Earth as we know it. And that theme has echoed down through the centuries, especially in times of crisis. For my novel, Horse Thief 1898, I’ve read a lot about the 19th century. People were so passionate then in their belief that the world would end any day that entire communities sprang up around that theme, especially in northeastern U.S. along the Erie Canal. Some preachers named the date they thought Jesus would return.

“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen. Only the Father knows,” Jesus told his followers in Matthew 24, after he too quoted the prophet Joel. “If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward.” Jesus then told the parable of the three servants entrusted with their master’s goods while he went on a trip. On his return, he honored the two who invested and multiplied what the master had asked them to steward.

But the third servant, consumed by fear and insecurity, had simply buried the master’s money. He hadn’t lost or squandered it, but he hadn’t creatively multiplied it either. The master calls him “wicked and lazy.”

Yikes! This story speaks directly to me today. I love to write, but I find letting people know about what I’ve written very, very hard—so challenging that I’m often tempted to give up, to “bury” this passion which I believe the Lord entrusted to me. “The market is so crowded,” I tell myself. “My voice doesn’t really matter. I’ll do something easier; something with more obvious and immediate impact.”

But that’s not the point, is it. The question is whether I will be faithful to what God has given to me, investing as well as I can in those who do hear my voice. I haven’t heard God telling me to become a bestseller. I have heard him say, “Write what I put in your heart.”

When Jesus returns, will he find you and me actively and creatively engaged in the work he has entrusted to us, in our small corners of the world, energized by the Spirit he pours out on us? Might someone call on the Lord and be saved (the verb sozo means the action of delivering or rescuing another from a dangerous situation, either physical or spiritual) if we trust him enough to do our part? If you think of it, please pray for me to lean into the Spirit, because I don’t find this work easy. And I’ll be delighted to pray for you, too, if you communicate with me specific needs you have in seeking to be faithful to the gifts God has given you, as we both await the return of our Lord.