“If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”—2 Timothy 2:13 (ESV)
Not you—and certainly not me.
Ten-time over, I have broken all the promises I set out to uphold.
I have broken all the promises I made to other people. I have broken all the promises I have to God. I have also broken all the promises I have made to myself.
Every day, before I leave my bed, I shatter the Ten Commandments.
When my alarm goes off at 5 o’clock in the morning. Before I silence it, I negotiate with myself: “let me stay in bed for five more minutes.” Or I grumble at the clock itself: “why so soon?”
You may say, “It’s just 5 minutes, it does no harm, duh!”
Yet that is the problem. You see, when I negotiate with my inner self for five more minutes of sleep when I should be waking up, I am seeking my own good. The chief end is self-preservation.
I am not loving God and neither am I serving my neighbour.
Instead, I am loving myself and serving myself at the same time. In negotiating for extra minutes, I show my preoccupation with myself and my lack of love for God and neighbor. In this one act, I break all the promise I set out to keep.
I also break the promise I made with myself to wake up at 5 o’clock, not ten minutes after five.
My inability to keep promises has without a shed of doubt cost me friendships. Many have walked away because I am not true to my word. I have also walked away from others for the same reason.
Marriages break, business partnerships crumble, and regimes fall because of failure by the other party to live up to their end of the bargain.
But there is one relationship which always stays. Amidst being unfaithful to everyone, including myself, there is One who has always been faithful.
When everyone left, God did not leave. He stayed—he is still here.
Unlike all the other relationships you and I have, our relationship with God is a special one.
Unlike all the other relationships which run on the stream of our promise-keeping; God’s relationship to us runs on his promise-keeping—alone.
With God, it is never about you living up to your end of the bargain. God in Jesus lives up to both ends of the bargain. He doesn’t just make promises to us, he fulfills those promises.
In him, there is no shadow of turning. What he promised 6,000 years ago, he will fulfill. He forgets not and holds no grudges.
His devotion to you is not dependent on your devotion to him. His love for you is wholly independent of your love for him. We stay afloat because of his resources, not our own.
We can fail, or like Capon would say, “we can fold spiritually and still remain safe…” Why? Because he is.
Because whatever we need to be saved and stay saved comes to us extra nos. Nothing in my heart but everything in his; not my decision but his decision in his Son.
Friend, when you fail—and you are going to fail seventy times seven—the only thing you should never forget is that God’s love for you will never leave you because you failed. If anything, let this be the only sentence tattooed on the flesh of your heart, or the song that slides off your tongue: “While I daily fail to hold onto God, his firm grip of grace will never let me go. Never. Amen”
While nothing in your hands you bring to God, may you cling to everything he finally brought in the cross. May you rest in him who changes not. May your heart be brightened by his ever-true, ever-new promises.