Stick Me. Stab Me! I May Bleed. But I Will Not Fall!

If a friend made you promises, but rarely kept them, how apt would you be to trust him or how long would you keep her as your friend? Trust is the bedrock of every healthy relationship, and this includes our friendship with God. The Bible is filled with thousands of divine promises, urging us to believe them and test God’s faithfulness by acting on them in faith. In fact, the Apostle Peter says our faith in His promises is the very thing that secures our salvation, seals our friendship with God, gives us power over this wicked world. He writes:

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who has called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:3-4)

Sometimes we worry, will God keep His promises to me? Of this there is no doubt, for God’s promises are as faithful as His holy character. Abraham is the quintessential example of one who learned this. God said, “Leave your home, your family, and your country, and go to a land that I will show you; and I will make you a great nation.” So Abraham obeyed as much as his faith allowed. He left his homeland but took his family along, delaying his obedience because his father insisted on settling in Haran. Then his father died, and Abraham renewed his commitment to God and moved to Canaan. But even there his faith faltered many times. At one point, frustrated that God hadn’t given him an heir, he took Hagar, his wife’s servant girl as his concubine. She gave birth to Ishmael, father of the Arab nations, and the Middle East hasn’t been the same since. And yet, despite his slow growth in faith, did God keep His word to Abraham? Absolutely! From the moment Abraham showed the first hint of faith, God kept every detail of His promise as a testament to us that His Word can always be trusted. For that reason, Hebrews 6:12-19 urges us to make the journey of faith as well:

Follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance. For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in His own name, saying: ‘I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.’ Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God has promised…So God has given us both His promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.”

This passage says that God has staked His very character upon His faithfulness to His promises. We’re assured that because God can never lie, His promises will never fail. In Abraham’s case, the Bible says he was so old that he was “as good as dead” when God promised him a son. (Hebrew 11:12) And yet, right on schedule according to God’s promise, Isaac was born and from that one beloved son have come a multitude of descendants for Abraham, “as numerous as the stars in heaven and as countless as the sand which is on the seashore.”

What is the lesson for us? Like Abraham, we’re to be patient, believing God’s promises, and standing firm in the faith even when our circumstances seem to say just the opposite. In fact, that’s the Christian life in a nutshell—believing in the immutability of His promises, even when the world, the flesh, and the devil seek to overpower us with doubt. Again, the Apostle Peter encourages us, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…and after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:8-11)

Stanley Dale didn’t seem destined for greatness as a boy. His dad was an abusive drunk and his mother coped by living in a dream world believing she’d become a great actress one day. Nor did his suffering end at home. The smallest boy in his class, he was a constant target of bullies at school. One day, after a beating, he ran home crying to his father only to hear him say, “They’re right! You are a weakling.” Now travel ahead 24 years in time to Irian Jaya. Stanley has given his life to Christ and been called to the mission field. He has baptized a few converts, but the work is painfully slow. The priests of Kembu refuse to turn to God from idols. So in a moment of boldness, Stanley burns their gods proving they’re nothing but wood. Then the trouble begins. The priests attack Stanley leaving him for dead. But Stan refuses to die. He drags himself back to the mission compound to heal, and then promptly marches back to the same village with the love of Christ burning in his heart. Don Richardson tells the rest of the story—

“The war cry sounded again, closer now. Suddenly they came leaping out of the forest bows held high. Stan and Yemu stood at the lower end of the gravel beach, facing them. Phil was alone 50 yards away. Looking back in horror, he saw Stan raise his staff, grimly facing the Wikboon horde. “Yemu, leave me,” Stan shouted over his shoulder. He kept his staff raised, not to strike, but to form a barrier against the advancing tide of warriors. “All of you, turn around and go home,” he commanded. A priest named Bereway slipped behind Stan and, at point blank range, shot an arrow under his upraised arm. Another priest shot a shaft into Stan’s back, just below the shoulder.  As the arrows entered his flesh, Stan pulled them out one by one, broke them, and cast them away.

Nalimo reached the scene after 30 arrows found their mark in Stan. “How can he stand there so long?” he gasped. “Why doesn’t he fall? Any one of us would have fallen long ago! Maybe he’s immortal?” Nalimo’s normally impassive face melted with fear. Because of his fear, he did not shoot an arrow into Stan. Stan faced his enemies steady and unwavering except for the jolt of each new strike. Yemu ran to where Phil stood and together they watched in anguish at Stan’s agony. As some 50 or more warriors detached from the main force and came toward them, Phil pushed Yemu behind him and gestured speechlessly, ‘Run!’ 50 arrows. 60! Red ribbons of blood trailed from the wounds, but Stan stood his ground. Nalimo saw he was not alone in his fear. The attack had begun with hilarity, but now the warriors shot their arrows with desperation bordering on panic. Maybe Kusaho was right! Maybe they were committing a crime against the supernatural rather than defending it. ‘Fall,’ they screamed at Stan. ‘Die!’ It was almost a plea. ‘Please, die!’” (From the book, Lords of the Earth)

Stanley Dale did die that day, but the tribe who killed him was so overcome by his steadfastness that they soon repented and gave their lives to Christ. But the question is: How did such a coward and weakling become such a mighty man of valor? He met the Unbendable, Immoveable, Unshakeable One, and having met him, he was never the same. What about you? Have you surrendered your life to Christ? If so, are you unchangeable in your goodness and immoveable in your commitment to Him? You will be if you lay hold of the Unshakeable Rock of Ages and never let go. For He never changes. “We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree, and wither and perish, but naught changeth Thee.”

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