Gilland: Promises kept

Man loading box while children watch

Having just returned from a visit with my wife’s mom in Kentucky, I find myself feeling sentimental. Absent from our usual trip back to Kentucky and Indiana was my Mom, who passed away over a year ago

Yesterday I found myself thinking about her, and how I had made a promise to her that I didn’t, and really couldn’t, keep.

In 1985, Cindy and I had prayed earnestly and were convinced that God was calling us to uproot our small family, with our two children in tow, and move 850 miles away to Orlando, Florida. It wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision, and our end goal was not to be near our beautiful Florida sunshine (though I admit that we loved everything about this state). 

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No, we were going for the sake of mission, to be part of a new church led by my best friend. It was a noble call, to make the sacrifice of familiar surroundings and a secure income, all for the sake of a new outreach. But it was also a call that affected more than just us.

I heard years ago that it is easier to be the ones leaving than it is to be those left behind. I still think that is true. My parents were not just losing their son and daughter-in-law, they were also losing nearness to their oldest grandchild and her little brother. 

This profound sense of loss was easily read on my Mom’s face, which prompted that promise that I spoke about. 

“Mom,” I assured her confidently, “we are going on a mission, to become equipped, and then we are coming back home to plant a similar church here.” 

Those weren’t just placating words. We really believed that to be our strategy, and I had no problem promising that to my dear mother.

The trouble was…those words didn’t represent what God had for us, and not long after moving to Florida, I realized that I had spoken too soon, and shared my plan, not God’s. 

Within a couple of months, I let my parents know that I needed to retract that promise, and I asked for their forgiveness for making it. Truth was, I didn’t know how long we were going to be in Florida. 

Now, almost 38 years later, I still don’t have that answer.

As I remembered that broken promise, I found myself thankful that God never breaks one of His. While I meant well, and truly believed I had the plan right, what I shared with her was just not what God had for us.

But here is the best news. God is not like us, and the promises He makes are going to happen. Count on it. In fact, the Bible says in Numbers 23:19:

“God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”

Knowing that God is faithful in every way brings peace to my heart and soul. I can live with confidence that what He says is true and that His promises never fail.

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