When God made his promise to Abraham, he backed it to the hilt, putting his own reputation on the line. He said, “I promise that I’ll bless you with everything I have—bless and bless and bless!” Abraham stuck it out and got everything that had been promised to him. When people make promises, they guarantee them by appeal to some authority above them so that if there is any question that they’ll make good on the promise, the authority will back them up. When God wanted to guarantee his promises, he gave his word, a rock-solid guarantee—God can’t break his word. And because his word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable. We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:13-18, The Message)
I bought my first computer sometime around 1982. It was a TI-994A. It wasn’t the greatest of all computers. It was OK but the storage for the machine was cassette tapes. That meant you had to forward and rewind until you found the right place on the tape.
On the other side, my favorite all-time computer game, Parsec, a space shoot-em-up game was only available for the TI-994A.
What I really remember about that computer is that it helped me learn something about computer programming and that eventually helped me to pick my first real post-Navy profession.
I found a game in a magazine that featured a cheesy snake that ate square eggs under a house on blocks. If the snake touched the blocks it was dead. The code used the BASIC (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) programming language. I was fascinated, not about the game but about the code. When I would encounter a command I didn’t know I would stop and look it up. When I finished entering the code the program didn’t work. I spent the next several days trying to figure out why. I did manage to figure it out. I was both excited and hooked.
I ended up back in school. I went to work for a cable television company working in their computer room then followed that up as a programmer/analyst with the FDIC. I loved what I did but I never felt fulfilled. That’s how I ended up in ministry. I also didn’t stay hooked on programming. In the 30 years since, I have actually completed one computer program.
While its computing power, by today’s standards, wasn’t much, I loved that TI-994A because it inspired me to the beginnings of a career. When I was working for that cable television company I bought my second computer. It was my first PC.
Both computers were probably the most reliable computers I have owned. We had the 994A for about six years. We bought that first PC about 1987. We used it at home until we bought one that had a color display in 1995. I used it in my office another two years and then gave it to my sister. I don’t know how long they used it.
I put those two into contrast with the last three PC laptops I’ve owned. One of those computers lasted about six years and the other more than eight. They were still running fairly well, when I sent them on their way. Most of the time since, if I got three years out of one I considered it pretty reliable.
A couple of years ago I bought a “convertible.” It flipped from a laptop to a tablet. It lasted two years. It won’t run at all. I have had two more laptops that both after I have had them about six to nine months have started having problems. That includes the one above. When I was in central Texas last week the computer above started acting flaky (that is a technical term). When I got home it seemed to be better. Today it was back to being flaky again.
Things that stop being reliable be they cars, computers, some other kind of machine, or a person who makes promises but fails to follow through, it can be really frustrating. I am pretty frustrated with this laptop I type on right now.
I do not know how people manage to deal with all the things that happen in our world having nothing on which they can rely. Let’s face it, even those first two computers that lasted so long, eventually became unreliable. We have so many things we like to have, we need to have. I once lived in a house that had two water heaters. Before they were 10 years old, they both failed, within two weeks of each other!
“That’s OK. I can count on my friends. I can count on my family.” I know I am fortunate here. I can count on friends and family, and I am very thankful. But, just like me, these friends are human and at some point, most likely not because they want to be, but they, at least we think, will become unreliable. Things happen in their lives too. The always reliable for them might also become unreliable at the very time we need them most.
We will sometimes feel like everything falls apart. That there will be tough times in life we can count on. But, there is one we can depend on, always. Life will never get so hard or so bad that God is not there. We may feel like God has abandoned us when we are in the moment of difficulty. Sometimes we are so close to what is going on, all we see is what is right in front of us and the work God is doing for us happens out on the edges.
In today’s passage the writer of Hebrews reminds us of that. The lesson says, “God can’t break his word.” And, …the promise is likewise unchangeable.” This one too, “We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go.” The writer reminds us that God is with us, that God is so close we can reach out spiritually and grab hold of God. And friends, where God is, there is always hope.
“It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post…”
Even when everything might seem otherwise, the very presence of God is with us. Unlike my now unreliable computer, we have with us, one who, for all time and in all places, is more reliable than anyone anywhere. “God is our refuge and strength, a help always near in times of great trouble. (Psalm 46:1, Common English Bible) That is reliability we can count on. Thanks and Praise be to God.
In Search of the Genuine,
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved