Of all the translations of the Bible, the NIV is my favorite. Some people prefer to read from the NKJ or ESV or even the contemporary translation, The Message, but for me, I turn to the NIV. Particularly, my NIV Study Bible with Jesus' words in red, a lime green and baby blue leather cover and brown silk ribbon book marker. This beautiful Bible is marked with the bright yellow of a highlighter, underlined words and scribbled notes in the margins. It is my morning companion who joins me for breakfast.
This particular Bible has been a fundamental part of my interaction with God. Not only does it provide the very word of God but this Bible provides footnotes. I love the footnotes. When I don't understand a scripture or want to gain more insight into a verse I've read a hundred times I turn to the little notes at the bottom of the page and my eyes are further opened and my understanding deepened.
This morning as I read through Romans 4 I realized that I was merely skimming the words, not really feasting on the glory of the message. Then I remembered the footnotes.
The note for verse nineteen of chapter four brought me back to truly soaking in the goodness of God. In referring to Abraham and God's promise to him that he would be the father of many nations, Romans 4:19 says, "Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead - since he was about a hundred years old - and that Sarah's womb was also dead." This is a familiar passage but the footnote that accompanied it made me take pause and look at Romans 4:19 as if seeing it for the first time. The NIV study Bible says about this verse, "Faith does not refuse to face reality but looks beyond all difficulties to God and his promises."
Faith isn't foolish. Faith doesn't deny reality. But faith is bigger than reality. What a beautiful truth! Reality might look overwhelming but faith is more powerful than our realities. God gave Abraham a promise, He gave him His word, and Abraham stood on God's word in the face of reality. He was far too old to have kids. So was Sarah, his wife. Still, God's promises trumped all of those technicalities. Reality, "fact", said that children were no longer possible for Abraham. God said you will be the father of many nations no matter what your age may say about you. Abraham choose to put his faith in God.
Our realities and difficulties exist but God can overcome them with His power, bringing glory to His name. When Abraham fathered Isaac there was no one but God who could get the credit. Fact and reason said Abraham would never have a child with Sarah. But God's promise was bigger than human reason and proved utterly faithful. In His time, God brought forth a son to Abraham because Abraham put His faith in God and trusted that God's word was true.
Even when you and I stand in the midst of difficulty or a trying circumstance we can look past the realities of our lives and look to the God who is faithful, knowing that He is bigger than the facts. The design and plans He has for you and I can't be thwarted by age, health, money or any human reason. When our faith is in God there is no fact on earth that can stop His will from being done. He will overcome all logic and every reality so that He can reign all-powerful and mighty over our circumstances.
Abraham had to wait a long time to see the fulfillment of the promise God made to him. But he didn't lose faith. He saw the impossibility of the promise and the stark reality of his circumstances, yet he put his faith in God. The promise wasn't delivered on his time table, but because he was faithful it was delivered in God's perfect timing. All the glory for the birth of Abraham's son Isaac went to the ultimate keeper of promises and the faithful fulfiller of His word, the Lord our God.