Airman Jones was assigned to the induction center, where he advised new recruits about their government benefits, especially their GI insurance. It wasn´t long before Captain Smith noticed that Airman Jones had almost a 100% record for insurance sales, which had never happened before. Rather than ask about this, the Captain stood in the back of the room and listened to Jones´ sales pitch.
Jones explained the basics of the GI Insurance to the new recruits. Then he said, “If you have GI Insurance and go into battle and are killed, the government has to pay $200,000 to your beneficiaries. If you don´t have GI insurance, and you go into battle and get killed, the government only has to pay a maximum of $6,000.”
“Now,” he concluded, “which bunch do you think they’re going to send into battle first?”
Considering something is safe. Being convinced makes the difference. We spend a lot of our lives considering this or that, whether or not, should I or shouldn’t I, how much or how little. Rarely do we go all in.
Now there’s nothing wrong with being someone who considers the many sides to an issue, but we also need to get convinced. We ought to trust in the Lord. Serve a higher purpose. Step out in faith. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
We lose many battles we could win if we only turned to the Lord in faith and conviction. Be convinced you’re loved. Know that God keeps care over you. Be assured the Lord seeks to bless you.
When we’re persuaded of these, then we’ll be determined to let God lead and guide us. But we’re too much on our own. We struggle mightily because we struggle singly, without back-up, without a protector.
Scripture tells us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” See how kind God is. The Lord delights in giving to you. Pay attention to your blessings, so you will have the strength of mind and the heart of purpose to keep to the way God shows is your way.
What we struggle with the most is conviction. We’re not letting ourselves be persuaded. We’re resisting. But this is a dangerous and at times painful way of doing or not doing things. As James 1:6-8 “… Ask in faith,
never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”
Perhaps we’re used to the sense of being unsure. It’s easy to surrender to the comfortable/uncomfortable sense of sloshing from one side to the other, of being double-minded. We’ve adapted to it.
You know what we’re good at? Hedging our bets. The term is well-known. It’s been around in English since at least the 16th century. Hedging a bet means to reduce risk and, sometimes, guarantee a profit by placing bets on different outcomes to create a result that returns a profit, regardless of whether the original bet wins or loses.
Reducing risk can be one’s whole life plan.
It’s safety we like, as we define safety, even if it’s not good for us or good for others. We’re afraid to go all in because of a fear or doubt or lack of confidence. Our indecision plays right into our hands, or at least one of our hands. We undercut our go-for-it selves, our faithful selves, the believer within, and revert to our comfort zone, where being afraid rules, where staying alone and inside is our default mode.
Too often the comfort zone, rarely the courageous quest.
Conviction is required. Making a settled decision and holding a fixed strong belief is necessary. Conviction is more than opinion. You hold an opinion, but a conviction holds you.
Because of our convictions, when the pressure mounts and we’re tempted to go the way of least resistance and the easy way out, we’re not moved. We’ve made up our mind.
In our scripture reading, Paul wants to point out the depth of Abraham’s conviction. He’s convinced that the Lord will bring to pass what God has promised.
Now if you think Abraham is different than us, you would be incorrect. We see the results. But at the time they weren’t the foregone conclusion they are today. Abraham had to decide. He made up his mind to believe. He became persuaded and convinced to follow the promise.
Now I want to teach you something about this word promise. The Bible says God promises. We make promises. When we’re married, we say our vows, which are promises, to one another. Here’s the thing: If you’re looking for more than a promise from God or in life, it’s not going to happen. We want the sure thing, but it’s a promise alone that we receive. To get from
here to there, to find your way to God’s will, to walk more deeply and richly in God’s blessings, is only as secured and assured as a promise. Nobody gets more than this.
If you wait for that something more, you will let your whole life pass, and still not have it in your hand. It won’t be someone else’s fault, we can’t lay the responsibility at someone else’s feet. The Bible says what’s true: It’s a promise, nothing more nor nothing less.
We may want to ask God why we weren’t given better odds, a more assured success. But God will ask us where our faith was.
This is precisely what Paul is talking about. For him, what illustrates that faith in God’s promise is the story in Genesis 15 where Abraham receives God’s promise of a son with Sarah. Abraham is “about a hundred years old” and therefore, for purposes of procreation “as good as dead.” But this isn’t all. Sarah has never had children before, and they’ve tried. They’ve given up. They’ve let it go and moved on.
But Abraham didn’t let what had been determine what was going to be. He heard the promise and was convinced. He didn’t play both sides. He kept faith that God was able to do what the Lord promised. His faith, as scripture says, was reckoned to him as righteousness.
Do you see now why you mustn’t think that the promise you’ve heard from God, can’t be fulfilled? Yours isn’t tougher to accomplish than Abraham and Sarah having a child. It’s not too late. You’re not too weak. God hasn’t forgotten about you.
Don’t give into impatience. Stay encouraged in the Lord. Don’t doubt God’s purposes or promises. The Lord doesn’t keep time as we do. Have faith in God’s promises so you can fulfill yours.
Robertson McQuilkin and Muriel Webeddorfer met as students at Columbia Bible College. He proposed on Valentine’s Day in 1948 and they married in August the same year. For the next three decades, they raised six children and served God together at a variety of posts, including 12 years as missionaries in Japan.
In 1968 they returned to the United States and Robertson became president of Columbia Bible College (now Columbia International University). Muriel taught at the college, spoke at women’s conferences, appeared on television, and was featured on a radio program that was considered for national syndication.
The first sign that their lives were about to change appeared in 1978, during a trip to Florida to visit some friends. While they were driving, she began telling a story she had just finished a few minutes earlier. “Honey, you just told us that,” Robertson said, but she laughed and went on.
The same type of problem occurred again, and with increasing frequency. In 1981, when she was hospitalized for tests on her heart, a doctor told Robertson about the possibility of Alzheimer’s disease. The diagnosis was confirmed by other doctors.
As the next few years went by, Robertson watched helplessly as his fun, creative, loving partner slowly faded away. Muriel knew she was having problems, but she never understood that she had Alzheimer’s. “One thing about forgetting is that you forget that you forgot. So, she never seemed to suffer too much with it.”
Muriel found it more and more difficult to express herself. She stopped speaking in complete sentences, relying on phrases or words. Though she continued to recognize her husband and children, she lived, in Robertson’s words, “in happy oblivion to almost everything else.” There was one phrase she said often, however: “I love you.”
Robertson learned much about love from Muriel, and from God, during those first few years of her disease. When he was away from her, she became distressed, and would often walk the half-mile to his office several times a day to look for him. Once Robertson was helping take her shoes off and discovered her feet were bloody from walking.
By 1990, Robertson knew he needed to decide about his career. The school needed him 100 percent, and Muriel needed him 100 percent. In the end, Robertson says, the choice to step down from his position was easy for him to make. Perhaps the best explanation can be found in the letter he wrote to the Columbia Bible College constituency to explain his decision:
“The decision was made, in a way, 42 years ago when I promised to care for Muriel “in sickness and in health…till death do us part.” So, as I told the students and faculty, as a man of my word, integrity has something to do with it. But so does fairness. She has cared for me fully and sacrificially all these years; if I cared for her for the next 40 years I would not be out of her debt.”
Robertson relied on God to give him the strength to meet his wife’s needs week after week, month after month. When people asked him if he
ever tired of caring for Muriel, he would often say, “No, I love to care for her. She’s my precious.”
By the time their 50th anniversary passed in 1999, she had lost all ability to function on her own, and spent each day lying in bed. She died September 19, 2003.
Robertston chose to go all in. He refused to be double-minded. He believed God’s promises of blessing to the one who fulfilled his marriage vows. If you’re wondering how this was so, let Robertson explain: “I love Muriel. She is a delight to me—her childlike dependence and confidence in me, her warm love, occasional flashes of that wit I used to relish so, her happy spirit and tough resilience in the face of her continual distressing frustration. I don’t have to care for her. I get to! It is a high honor to care for so wonderful a person.”
Find your faith. Trust your trust. Go all in with God. Stop being double-minded. Don’t hedge your bets but fulfill your promises. Commit to God’s love for you. Relish in the blessings you have, so you can grow them greater still.
Can the church say Amen?