Earlier this year, while still in Michigan, I had an afternoon off and visited my former students at the previous school where I’d worked. For one of the classrooms I served, I made each child a special birthday treat of his or her choice – the only condition being that it had to be a treat I could bake (no Skittles!). Knowing that his birthday was not until after I moved schools, one intrepid lad made his request early, and I promised to bring this delectable treat on one of my visits. Though I had visited my students several times, I knew this occasion was the perfect opportunity to bake for Daniel. I had him called to the office to meet me, and I presented the treat – much to his delight.
While Daniel skip-hopped down the hallway clutching what I thought had been a surprise, I asked whether he thought
I had forgotten. “No,” he replied with a cheeky grin, as full of confidence as ever. “I knew you’d come eventually; I just didn’t know when.” Daniel knew that when I made a promise, I would keep it. He knew my heart for him and knew that I wouldn’t forget him. He wasn’t sure when the promise was going to be filled – but, oh, he had been anticipating its fulfillment!
Smiling down into Daniel’s face, a face shining with such pure confidence and excitement, I wondered where my own cheeky grin had been lost. Deep in my heart I heard the love-whisper of my heavenly Father: “Where is your cheeky grin that tells the world you are confident in my promises? Do you trust Me?”
Do I trust Him? I know Him. I know He is truly as good as He says. God, I know you – but do I trust you? I’m looking ahead and I’m feeling afraid because I can’t see where we’re going yet. Twenty-one years we have been dreaming together, He and I, since I was just a tiny girl. Oh, the places we’ve gone and the adventures we’ve had! I wouldn’t change a single aspect of this story, not even the heart-wrenching, teeth-clenching moments. All this time we’ve been walking together, and twelve years ago I let Him fully capture my heart. (Isn’t it beautiful that He woos us before we even know what love is because He alone is Love (1 John 4:8)? Romans 5:8 encapsulates the greatest Love Story of all time: “And God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”) After twenty-one years of dreaming with Him, do I trust His faithfulness? I humbly must confess that I don’t – not always. Help my unbelief.
When I am afraid, I want to have control because it makes me less fearful – if I have control, I can manage my expectations and even the outcomes. And I like to manage both those things. I then content myself with small hope instead of Jesus Christ, my Living Hope, because it seems less terrifying. Help my unbelief.
Somehow I trust that the sun will rise each morning, that I will have air to breathe, that the warmth will come again even though the winter may be bitter-cold – yet I struggle to trust that the Creator of all those steady processes will keep His promises to me. I honestly thought it would be easier after so many years together, but it’s true what they say (whoever “they” are): the older you get, the more you realize how much you don’t know.
While my parents were traveling, I stayed home with my then-five-year-old sister, who is the joy of my heart. In the stillness of one early morning, I heard the sound of a pair of small feet finding the floor as my sister jumped out of bed. I sleep in the room directly below her, so I hear and know every noise – even the little snuffling sounds she makes while she sleeps. Often when she wakes up, she calls down the vent (which doubles as our handy home intercom system), but this morning it was very quiet. I considered going upstairs or calling to her. Suddenly, the bedroom door burst open, and a tangle of blond curls appeared. Beaming her sweet smile at me, my sister declared, “I knew you’d be here, Honey. I knew you’d never leave me alone.” The reason it had been so quiet in the house was that she had tiptoed about, looking for everyone else. As she explained, she didn’t feel afraid when she couldn’t find anyone because she knew we would never leave her alone.
As she pressed her face to mine and I snuggled her close, my eyes filled with tears of wonder. This precious blessing is so confident, so secure in her trust of our family’s love for her. In that moment, my mind imagined me climbing up onto Father God’s lap and declaring, “I knew you’d be here!” That is what He wants for us, His children: to burst in shouting, “I knew it! I knew you wouldn’t leave me alone!”
I want to trust like that, like cheeky Daniel, like my joy-filled sister; I want to trust my Father’s faithfulness toward me, to trust His relentless kindness as both Promise-Maker and Promise-Keeper. I want to live my life not merely knowing my God is good; instead I want to embrace the freedom and delight of trusting that pure Goodness. I have promises that I have carried for all the years of my life, entwined so thoroughly into my being that I cannot separate them from my dreaming. Many of them have seen no fulfillment yet. But as I wait, I want my cheeky grin to be ever-handy, because I don’t know when but I know He always comes – because He’s just that faithful.
“Sing, O heavens; be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains!
For the Lord has comforted His people and will have mercy on His afflicted.
But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.’
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, but I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.
Your sons shall make haste; your destroyers and those who have laid you waste shall go away from you. Lift up your eyes, look around and see….”
~ Isaiah 49:13-18
Beloved, our Father doesn’t hide from us; He never tricks or teases because He is never cruel. Do you know that He has never left, has never let go of you? Can you believe He is really that good? Though even those we love best may fail us, He never will. Trust that He always loves and never forsakes. He will be found by you when you seek Him, and you lack nothing in His goodness. He always comes. You are not forgotten. So prepare your cheeky grin, run with your bare feet – because He’s here. Oh, dear hearts, do you know?