We hear it all the time, “Hold on to God’s promises.” But if you’re anything like me, sometimes that can be more exhausting than it is encouraging. There are so many, and while that should be a beautiful thing, sometimes it can feel like trying to hold onto a fistful of sand pieces just keep slipping through, and the tighter you squeeze the more you lose until all you’re thinking about is what’s sifting through your fingers instead of what you’ve still got in your palm.
That’s where I was two weeks ago, wishing I had one solid promise that I knew was just for me. Something sturdy that I could hold onto, carry around in my heart, and focus on when I was feeling like the light at the end of the tunnel wasn’t coming anytime soon. I was headed to a night of worship and a message, and when I parked my car, I put my chin to my chest and spoke out loud to God.
“I need a promise. Just one. If You can speak to me tonight in a way that I can really hear, I would appreciate it.” And then I gathered myself up and headed inside. We worshiped, and then the visiting pastor got up and spoke. He was full of passion and many of the things he said struck chords in my heart until I was thrumming with the melody of God’s love. He finished his message and sat down. We started to worship again, and then he got back up and said, “You know, I feel like I need to pray over you all. God is telling me that this is going to be a year of bounty – ten times more than whatever you lost.”
Now, that right there could have been enough for me. My eyes brimmed with tears, and I jotted it down in my notes, thinking I had gotten what I asked for. It certainly sounded like a promise to me. But then he said that if we wanted to get blessed with that promise that we should line up and come to the front for an individual blessing. I’m not someone who tends to do that kind of thing. The stoic in me balks at the idea. But as I watched him blessing others, he stopped every couple of people and told them something specifically for them. My heart constricted – I asked for a promise, didn’t I? Didn’t I ask God to speak to me in a way that I could really hear? So I’d better get the heck out of my comfort zone and go stand in line.
And I did. Was I wildly uncomfortable? Of course. But I was also hopeful. And then there I was, up at the front, for the first time ever in my life. (True story, I’ve never actually responded to an altar call before. *WHAAAT?* I know. #facepalm) We locked eyes and he laid his open palm on top of my head and said, “Ten times more.” But he didn’t move me forward. He just stood there looking at me. And then he leaned in and said quietly, “There’s a verse for you too. Psalm 138:8: ‘The LORD will perfect that which concerns you.’”
I felt like my heart might explode, and yet at the same time, this incredible peace settled in my chest. There it was. My promise. And what a promise it is. Different translations carry slightly different nuances: “The LORD will vindicate me”, “The LORD will work out his plans for my life”, “The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me”, and the rest says “your (steadfast/faithful) love (lovingkindness) O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” Every day since, I’ve walked in confidence, carrying this single promise in my heart like a life vest. It keeps me afloat.
So if you need a promise, I challenge you to ask God to speak one to your heart. Or, if you want, you can share mine. It’s certainly big enough for all of us.