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Oct. 12, 2009

Trusting in God's Promises

By Jill Hetland

How do you trust God’s faithful promises? Do you do so with openness and confidence? Many times after worship I feel renewed and ready to face the challenges of the week ahead. My faith is affirmed and I know that I am not alone. However, as I go through the week, some established patterns can start to bear on me in the office, on the road or at home. Some weeks I transition from a strong and hopeful spirit to one of concern or sometimes despair.

As Bishop Mark Hanson writes, “Into a context of fear and distrust, God speaks faithful words of promise.” These words take three forms. First, God’s promises clearly establish an identity. Who are we really? What does it mean to be a faithful Christian? We see God’s promise through Holy Baptism. This is when we are marked with cross of Christ and claimed for life. We also see God’s promise through Holy Communion. This is when we are gathered to share in Christ’s presence and forgiveness. We are renewed believers with a Christian identity.

Second, we see God’s faithful promise through the community of faith. We gather each week to worship. We gather regularly to use the gifts God has given us. We are sent into the world empowered to use our gifts to send others. We are renewed servants with a Christian identity and community.

Third, we see God’s promise answered through a life of meaning and purpose. Have you discovered a purpose in your life? Has this purpose changed over the years? This desire for purpose is as essential for a good life as food, shelter and clothing.

A college student visited a seminary campus to explore vocational opportunities. After a week of listening and reflection, the student was asked, “What have you learned?” With great enthusiasm the response was, “I may not have this exactly right, but I learned that in Christ I am absolutely free – subject to no one- and at the same time, in Christ I am a servant to everyone. That is so cool!”

How do you feel absolutely free? How are you a servant to everyone? It is this apparent contradiction which only becomes clear when one accepts God’s promises and discovers the meaning of Christian identify, community and purpose.

Jill Hetland is a member of the staff with the ELCA's Evangelical Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission. This essay is reprinted from "Stewardship Now," a free online newsletter available through ELCA Stewardship Resources.

      Copyright 2009 Stewardship of Life Institute