By Ellen Taylor
I grew up going to church three times a week and met some of my closest friends (even to this day!) in youth group. Most of my Facebook statuses in high school were inspirational Bible verses that I hoped would encourage my friends at my public high school who weren’t believers. I went to a Christian university for my undergraduate degree, where mandatory chapel was held twice a week, and every student was required to take six semesters worth of Bible classes. I interned at a local church and even earned a minor degree in the Bible. And then, I went to graduate divinity school.
But somewhere along the way, I stopped delighting in Scripture. I saw it as something to be studied, but not something to be taken to heart. I began to think of God as something to learn about rather than someone to know. To date, this was one of the most confusing times in my life so far.
After a time spent in this confusing season, I was given a special project at work; I was instructed to go through the entire book of Genesis, chapter by chapter, writing discussion questions along the way for kids aged eleven to fifteen.
I don’t know the last time you read through the book of Genesis (maybe in January when we read it together, as a community), but there are some stories in that book that are, well, a little less than age-appropriate for young teens. As I was going through some of the trickier passages, the discussion point I kept coming back to was that God keeps His promises to His people. His people keep turning away from Him, not believing Him, disobeying Him and turning to other gods, but God is consistently faithful to His promises.
One of the passages that fell into this category was the story of Sarah and her pregnancy with Isaac. When God told her she would become pregnant in her old age, Sarah laughed at the very thought (Genesis 18:9–15). But God kept His promise to her, and she bore a son (Genesis 21:1–7). After reading and working through the rest of the book of Genesis, I went into my friend’s office exasperated and frustrated with myself because I couldn’t find anything else for the discussion questions. She encouraged me to keep at it and do my best, and reassured me that maybe it was okay if God keeping His promises was the main theme of the project.
Soon after completing the project, I realized that what had been frustrating me about the book of Genesis was exactly what I needed to hear and understand about God in a season of my own confusion and doubt: God keeps His promises to His people. He keeps His promises when your world seems to come crashing down. He keeps His promises when your best friend betrays you, when a dear family member falls ill, when the plans you had for your life have suddenly fallen to pieces around you. I know He does because I’ve seen it in my own life. His promises to His people are true. We can put our hope in Him to do so (Psalm 119:81). What a beautiful gift.
Written by Ellen Taylor