Hebrews 11:17-19 “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”
God promises us wonderful things, but we are the ones who assume a “happily ever after” comes with those promises. Abraham’s faith in God’s promises was sorely tested when it seemed the “happy ever after” clause had to be sacrificed with his promised son Isaac. Our faith will be tested as well. What is that one thing we crave, believing it is the missing piece to our living “happily ever after”? That is the one thing standing between us and perfect reliance on God. God is supposed to be our happily ever after–not a man, not a career, not a house, not a child, not a church, not even a ministry. God promises us “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly,” but that does not come with a description of the things we consider good. What if those good things are, to God, a broken spirit, a surrendered will, empty hands? These things focus our eyes on the Lord as our reward, our happily ever after. Each of us will meet a call to a faraway altar someday, where God will demand our version of His promises in exchange for His perfect version. Then we will learn to stake our very lives on God’s ability to raise up from the ashes of our dreams a perfected version of His promises–God’s happily ever after, not ours. And His is the only one worth having–it is eternal.
David–he had been anointed king when but a youth, but the journey to that promise was the opposite of triumphant. He was misunderstood, maligned, tricked, scorned, lied about, chased, and spied upon for at least a decade, before God finally raised up from the ashes of his dreams the refined reality of His promises. David gave his happily ever after to God, and God gave it back to him better.
Moses–he was persuaded that he was raised a prince so he could help his people Israel escape their bondage, but the story he planned quickly spiraled out of control. His ideal of God’s promises failed, leaving him a refugee in the desert, leading sheep for forty years. A long death process indeed to his version of “happily ever after.” But God raised him up from the ashes of his ambitions to lead God’s flock out of Egypt God’s way, not his. Moses gave his happily ever after to God, and God gave it back to him better.
Esther–she must have felt a sacred duty to convert her king husband to the true God, to be a shining light in the palace–but she was forbidden to let anyone know she was a Jewess. Years passed as she felt trapped by her unfulfilled dreams of making a difference in the ways she had planned. Then Haman’s evil plan of death against all Jews gave her the moment she had hoped for–in so different a form than she had expected! Her own dreams had to die in order for God’s perfect plan to be revealed in her life, to give her God’s version of happily ever after. She gave it to God, and God gave it back to her better.
Mary–she was just a simple girl planning joyfully for her coming marriage to a Godly man–who would condemn this sweet “happily ever after”? But God had a more perfect plan for her–to be called blessed forever in Heaven and in history by the way God would bring His promises to pass in her life. Mary had to die to her dreams of a stainless name, a virtuous marriage, a normal life, in order to say to the angel’s impossible message, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” She knew Joseph would no longer want her, stained by the shady circumstances of Jesus’ birth–but she was thrilled that God wanted her–had chosen her to fulfill millennia of prophecies for her people. She counted the cost and chose God’s favor over man’s. And God rewarded her, though the promises fulfilled brought her more pain than anyone can imagine–a woman giving the Son of God to the world, having Him cruelly killed, then raised again to Heaven. She was no common woman, no common mother, to bear the depths and heights of anguished ecstasy that God’s promises brought her. She gave her happily ever after to God, and God gave it back to her better, though it might not have seemed so in her lifetime.
John 12:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”
Could I bear to go through such things, die to my dreams, to see God’s promises perfected in my life? I must. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord–be it unto me according to thy word.”