By Peter Sanlon
At every step of our pilgrimage we depend on God. Peter stumbled at many points in his walk with the Lord, but came in due course to see that ‘His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.’ (2 Peter 1:3)
One of the most valuable things God gives us for our pilgrimage are his promises: ‘He has given us his very great and precious promises.’ (2 Peter 1:4)
One of the oft repeated promises in the Bible is that God will be our God. To Abraham He said, ‘I will establish my covenant to be God to you and to your offspring.’ (Gen. 17:7) To Moses God said, ‘I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God.’ (Ex. 6:7) To Ezekiel God said, ‘You shall be my people, and I will be your God.’ (Ezk. 36:28) This is one of the great promises that runs through the Bible story. It undergirds the covenants as the foundational reality of what God promises to give us – God promises to give us Himself and to draw us into a relationship in which we experience Him as being for us.
That a promise as wonderful as this runs through the Bible story is one reason that our pilgrimage is shaped by faith. A promise draws out the response of faith – trust and belief in the promise-maker that He will indeed do all that is promised. At the end of our pilgrimage we will see that our faith in God’s promise has been well placed. We will celebrate with all the saints that God has kept His promise to be our God. John wrote, ‘I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”’ (Rev. 21:3)
When Martin Luther called the medieval church back to a vision of the Christian life shaped by faith, he did so partly because he saw that the promises of God were far more important than others realised at the time. So he wrote in his Babylonian Captivity of the Church, ‘God does not deal, nor has he ever dealt, with human beings other than through the word of promise.’
Whatever challenge or daily struggles we face in our pilgrimage – let’s put our faith in God’s promise and keep trusting Him.
Rev. Dr. Peter Sanlon is rector of Emmanuel Anglican Church, Tunbridge Wells: www.emmanuelanglican.uk