“The Lord appeared to him that night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.” Genesis 26:24 NET
Life is full of failures in a dark and depressing world but love never fails. When we live our lives with our egos on the throne in our hearts, we will be afraid of failure. We will be discouraged when we encounter difficulties and disappointments in life. But times of failure are the best times to experience God’s Presence in our lives.
The story of Isaac’s life in the land of the Philistines during a famine is a revelation of the unfailing faithfulness of God’s agape love. Isaac had obeyed God’s commandment not to go down to Egypt during a famine. However, he repeated the failure of his father, Abraham, when he told the Philistines that Rebekah was his sister. But in spite of his deceit, God protected Isaac through King Abimelech and blessed him with so much wealth that the Philistines became jealous of him. Isaac was then ordered to move away to the Gerar Valley.
There he faced opposition from the shepherds in Gerar and he moved to Beersheba where he encountered God in a vision. God told him not to be afraid and promised that his descendants will become a great nation. When Isaac responded in worship, he experienced the fidelity of God’s promise to Abraham. King Abimelech came to make a covenant of peace with him and Isaac’s servants then found a new well.1 But Isaac needed courage and wisdom in his old age. Esau’s foreign wives made life miserable for him and Rebekah. Then Jacob tricked Isaac into giving him the blessing of the first born which belonged to Esau. And to save Jacob from Esau’s wrath, Isaac had to send him away to Laban, Rebekah’s brother.2
In the Old Testament we read stories after stories of how God used feeble, flawed and foolish human beings for His glory. This is to teach us the spiritual truth that the meek will inherit the earth.3 When we are trying to be the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T), we are blind and deaf to God’s whispers of Love. It is only when we are meek and seeing heaven everyday in every person (S.H.E.E.P.) that God can plant a mustard seed of His Kingdom in our hearts.4 The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.5 God knows our hearts and is waiting patiently for the right time to break through to us.
Like Abraham, God will call us to leave the comfort of our religious beliefs to embark on a journey into the Kingdom of God that is in the depths of our hearts. God’s promise of His Kingdom is not a reward for those who obey but a gift to be received by cultivating a right relationship with God:
“Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless.”6
It is futile to try and break through to God with our willpower and human strength. Faith is a gift that we can only receive from God when we come to the end of ourselves. God is waiting to break through to our minds when we come to our senses like the Prodigal Son7 and turn from our foolish and futile ways. The Holy Spirit will then show us the way through the wilderness of our hearts to God’s Kingdom.
Faith is the fruit of God’s seed of love. When our hearts is a path, a stony ground or filled with weeds, we cannot bear the fruit of faith.8 We need contemplative practices to become aware of the negative beliefs, thoughts and feelings that keep us from growing deep roots of faith. Faith in the love of God can only grow when we invest our time to build our trust in God by “wasting time” with Christ – opening our hearts to the Holy Spirit through a totally surrendered will. The good news of the gospel is that we can face our fears by resting in the cross of Christ. We will then grow a confident faith by building a radical and courageous trust in the everlasting faithfulness of God’s love through a totally surrendered will.
Faith is a reflection of our relationship with God. Fear, induced by adversities and failure, is the biggest obstacle we need to overcome. When our lives are ego centered and not God centered, we will be afraid when we are buffeted by the storms of life. We are all infected and impure with sin. Our righteous deeds are nothing but filthy rags.9 We can only live by faith when Jesus is our cornerstone10 and the gate of our righteousness.11
Jesus came as the Prince of Peace at Christmas to shine the light into the dark places in our hearts. On Palm Sunday, we welcome Jesus as He rides into our hearts as the King of Glory. It is only when I enthrone Jesus as Lord that my heart will not be divided and I will be set free from fears, guilt and sinful desires. Obedience to God’s Word becomes an exciting experiment of faith in the love of God and not a neurotic reaction to the fear of the judgment of God. Peace will guard my heart and mind in moments of anxiety and fear as I experience the power of God’s Presence in my daily life:
“Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place
He comes to cleanse and heal, to minister His grace
No work too hard for Him, in faith receive from Him
Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place”12
Lord, grant me patience and perseverance to water the mustard seed of Your love by waiting on You and feeding on Your Word.
- How can I keep my heart from becoming a path when I am successful?
- Is my heart a stony ground that keeps me from growing deeper roots of faith?
- What are the weeds that are choking the seed of love in my heart?
Song of Praise:
Be Still In The Presence Of The Lord
- Genesis 26:12-23
- Genesis 27:1-28:5
- Matthew 5:5, NKJV
- Mark 4:30-32, NLT
- 2 Chronicles 16:9, NLT
- Romans 4:13-14 NLT
- Luke 15:17
- Mark 4:13-20
- Isaiah 64:6
- Acts 4:11
- John 10:9, NLT
- Be Still For The Presence of The Lord, David J. Evans