Nothing Compares to the Promise

Yosemite Falls from Sentinel Dome, Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite Falls from Sentinel Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

Recently, I ran across a new take on an old song.  If you attended church in the 1990s, you couldn’t possibly have missed this song; in fact, I’ve let it so often in worship that I’m rather tired of it.  But there was something new and fresh about the way this woman sang it; the same lyrics, the same tune, but a new song, at least for me:

Shout to the Lord

All the earth, let us sing

Power and majesty

Praise to the King!

Mountains bow down

And the seas will roar

At the sound of Your Name!

I sing for joy

At the works of Your hands

Forever I’ll love You

Forever I’ll stand

Nothing compares

To the promise I have in You

Peaks near Twisp Pass in North Cascades National Park, Washington
Peaks near Twisp Pass in North Cascades National Park, Washington

The promises of God are as varied as the different kinds of plants and flowers and creatures we find in His creation.  They range from exceedingly specific and personal (“I’m going to make you a teacher of children who will bring them healing from trauma”) to broad-reaching (“Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13)).  Promises relate to our salvation, heaven, our futures, our current realities, how we live our lives – we can’t go through a day without encountering at least one promise that the Lord has made to us.

The Rio Grande River Gorge, New Mexico
The Rio Grande River Gorge, New Mexico

Sometimes we think of God’s promises as an anchor – a steady point in our ever-shifting world.  Sometimes we think of the promises as direction – a road map of sorts, or at least the destination we’re headed for.  Other times, we think of them as simply precious – proof that God really does love us and cares for our every need.

Anchor at Bear Creek Harbor, New York
Anchor at Bear Creek Harbor, New York

But something I’m realizing is that the promises of God are sometimes only as good to us as our value of those promises.  God will keep His word – He can’t lie (Hebrews 6:18).  But some of the promises of God that He has spoken to us aren’t guaranteed realities that will come about no matter what we do.  We can choose whether to believe and live in those promises or to walk away from the promises.

Obsidian flow in Newberry Volcanic National Monument, Oregon
Obsidian flow in Newberry Volcanic National Monument, Oregon

For example, God offers His promise of salvation to everyone.  But not everyone accepts it.  Or God might tell a person that they will have a ministry to children – if they decide to refuse to minister to children or always accept positions for adults only, the promise of God may never come to fulfillment in their lives.

Tuweep Campground, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Tuweep Campground, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Which brings us back to the question: Just how much do we value the promises of God in our lives?  It’s easy to say that we value Christ’s promise of salvation.  But how about the little things that He has spoken to us?  Like Esau, do we throw away the opportunity for the fulfillment of the promise that is our right in Christ for a bowl of stew, or for reputation, or for comfort?  Or do we value the Words of God in our lives to the point that we seek Him first?

Along the Summer Blossom Trail, Washington
Along the Summer Blossom Trail, Washington

After we have been believing in the promise for so long, it’s easy to see another opportunity and jump for it.  Sometimes – like Abraham having Ishmael – it brings the promise to fulfillment, but not the way God planned.  Other times, we fall for the temptation of choosing a different reality than the one God planned for us.

Near Indian Cave in Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho
Near Indian Cave in Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho

If we want to see the fulfillment of the promises of God in our lives, we must believe, as the song says, that nothing – nothing in the world – compares with the promise we have in Christ.  That’s the kind of value we need to put on God’s words in our lives (both His written word and His spoken word).  When you value God and His word so that it’s the most important thing – nothing compares with it – the temptations to go a different direction pale in comparison to what He’s promised.  They’re not even viable options anymore.  Because we have come to find that God’s reality and His word and His promises mean so much more than anything else we might find or do or be in this world.