by: Robert A. Schuller
I want to share
with you one of my favorite verses. It’s been the
guiding light of my life. It’s Hebrews 11:1, “Faith
is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction
of things not seen. When I stop and think about this verse
today I can’t help but think about the response
that John Wesley had to this verse when asked about it.
He said, “Many times have I thought, many times
have I spoke, many times have I wrote upon these words
and yet there appears to be a depth in them which I am
in no wise able to fathom. Faith is in one sense of the
word a divine conviction of God and of the things of God.
It is of divine conviction of the invisible and eternal
I feel that way when I talk about faith and talk about
hope and talk about the conviction of things unseen and
that’s what faith is. I know there are many of you
who have already written your goals for 2008. I know a
lot of people like to refer to them as your New Years
resolutions. I don’t like to necessarily use the
word resolution. I suppose it’s fine but I like
the idea of a New Years goals because I think more in
terms of accomplishing something instead of just getting
over something. I like the idea of accomplishing things.
Now there are people here who have some new years goals
for two thousand and eight? A few of you have. I typically
will right a long list of goals. It may be twenty of them
and when I get to the end of ‘07 and periodically
throughout the year I’ll stop and take a look and
see well how am I doing? And sometimes I’m doing
pretty good but a lot of them I’m not doing all
that well. In fact I’ll tell you this much my grade
school teachers, if they were going to give me a grade
on my new years resolutions every year would say you flunked.
Because I rarely get more than forty to fifty percent
of my new years resolutions or my new years goals accomplished.
Does that mean
I’m a failure? I don’t think so. Does it mean
you’re a failure if you only accomplish half of
your goals? I don’t think so. But unfortunately
we carry these tapes that were given to us as children
where hey you have to be in the seventy percent to pass.
And you have to have an eighty percent to be good. And
you have to have a ninety percent or better to be excellent.
And life simply isn’t that way. If you only accomplish
one or two great things in your entire life that’s
actually enough. And you can be a failure at everything
else and nobody cares. Faith is the assurance of things
What are our
hopes, what are our dreams, what are our aspirations?
What would you do if you knew you could not fail? I was
in a parking garage recently and as I got ready to leave
the parking garage I drove around and realized there weren’t
any attendants in the garage and I didn’t know how
to get out. There’s gates at every single exit and
finally it dawned on me, I wonder if these are those automatic
gates? Do you know what I’m talking about? There’s
the gates you have to drive up to them and they’ll
just stay closed until you get close enough, and once
you get close enough then all of a sudden magically the
gate just knows you’re there and it just opens.
Isn’t that a great feeling when you drive up to
those gates? Feels so good, watch this, wa-la. And they
life some of our goals just fall open and it works. And
sometimes our prayers are answered in such a way and sometimes
the struggles that we’re dealing with, God takes
care of them.
This past year
my daughter, my oldest daughter Angie, came to my wife
and I and said do you know what? I really want a man in
my life. Can you believe that? So Angie what do want that
for? She says well I want to have children. I go well
then you want a man in your life, I can understand that.
And she’s a professional. She works in a church
in Texas near Dallas and she’s a professional counselor
there, she heads up their counseling center and she said
you know I’m really ready to get married, but I
just haven’t been able to find the right guy. I
want you to pray that I can find the right guy. And so
we said okay we’ll pray that the right guy will
And in September
of this year I met a gentleman who lived in Texas. He
was here actually in the cathedral. And I shook his hand
and God told me you’re shaking the hand of your
future son-in-law. I’ve got to tell you I’ve
never had that before. It was really strange. And he introduced
me to his parents and I shook their hands and I hear,
you’re shaking the hands of your future in laws.
It was a very strange feeling. I didn’t do anything
with it until much later Donna tells me that she had talked
with him and said he’s got to call my daughter in
Dallas. Because he lived in Dallas, he’s a professional.
And she lives in Dallas they can get together and who
So I kind of dismissed that whole thing until Angie calls
me up and she says dad you won’t believe it. This
guy calls me up and he wants to take me on a date. He
said that you told him to call me! She says I looked him
up online and he looks like a computer nerd or something.
And we said Angie he’s tall, he’s handsome,
he’s really good, he’s nice; just go out with
him, I mean, what have you got to lose? You get a dinner
out of the deal you know? It’s no big deal, just
go out with him. You’ve got nothing to lose.
Well when she,
in fact she hadn’t even agreed to go out, but when
I heard that he had called her I turned to my wife Donna
and she’ll verify what I’m saying, and my
son Bobby and his wife Hannah. I had three witnesses.
they hadn’t even met yet. And I said I’ve
got to tell you guys something. God told me and I’ve
never done this before, so it’s not like this is
the twentieth time I’ve said this okay? This has
never happened before. I said God told me that he’s
going to be my future son-in-law and I just want to tell
you this because otherwise if I tell you after the fact
no one will ever believe me. They’ll think I’m
making this whole thing up; I need witnesses. And you
three are my witnesses.
Well they kept
going out and they kept going out and they kept going
out and New Years Eve, the top of the mark of the Mark
Hopkins Hotel, as the fireworks were displayed over a
perfectly clear sky, he got down on his knees and he proposed
to my daughter. Isn’t that wonderful?
pray about something and it’s like those automatic
gates where all we have to do is drive up to the gate
and the gates will open, you know? It’s really wonderful
when that happens. But how often don’t we pray and
we drive up to the automatic gate and it doesn’t
open? Cause it’s not an automatic gate. And sometimes
we have to get out and we have to push the gate open.
Sometimes there’s a lock on the gate.
as a young man driving around my uncle’s farm in
his tractor and we drove up to this one gate and there
was a chain around it with a pad lock on it. And I said,
Uncle Henry is that a combination lock? He goes nope.
I go is that a key lock? And he goes yep. I said do you
have the key? He goes, nope. I said how are we going to
get in there? Not a problem. He walked up to the gate,
grabbed the lock and simply pulled the lock and right
behind the lock came the whole chain rattling around the
gate and he held up the lock with this chain hanging on
it. He goes it’s my Dutch lock. We’re Dutch
so you can say that. He says I’ve never once had
anyone even try to open this gate so I don’t even
lock it. It’s too much hassle. All you do is come
and you take it off. The lock is there, everybody thinks
it’s locked then nobody even tries. All you have
to do is try and you can get in.
And how many
times in life don’t we come up to a gate and there’s
a Dutch lock on the gate? And we just assume that’s
it. That’s the way it is. Certain paradigms that
we’ve grown up with, certain philosophies, thoughts,
concepts which have just enchained us into a certain way
of thinking and we can’t think what do they call
it? Out of the box. I was chained into a paradigm of wellness
for years that kept me trapped in sickness. I had constant
sinus infections. One right after another. I would get
my sinus infection, I would go to the doctor, he’d
give me a prescription, I’d take my prescription
for ten days, my sinus infection would clear up, I’d
be clear for a week or two then I’d start snuffling
again and get the bronchitis and the congestion and three
weeks later be back in the doctors office again. He’d
give me another prescription, I’d take the prescription
and it was a constant cycle. And I was on this constant
cycle of antibiotics, sinus infections, nasal sprays and
that’s the way I was just going to live the rest
of my life. And every Christmas for years, I’d be
talking like this. I mean it was really miserable. And
then I got a new paradigm of wellness, which really says
that if you build your immune system your body won’t
get sick in the first place! And instead of fighting the
disease with antibiotics I built my immune system instead
and I got rid of that cycle of sickness and it has been
years. I don’t know how many years since I’ve
had a sinus infection. Years. A different paradigm. I
had a Dutch lock keeping me out of wellness and health.
All I had to do was break my thinking and go forward and
open the gate and I was free.
And then there
are times in our life when we face these doors that just
are locked solid. You’re not getting through those
gates. You’re not going to get through there. I
study at Rancho Capistrano a few miles south of here.
I’ve got my library there and I go there on Sunday
mornings. I usually get there around five a.m. and it
has a combination lock on it and so I go there and I put
the combination, open the lock and I drive through the
gate. Piece of cake. The only problem is that week they
had changed the combination to the lock for security purposes
and they forgot to tell me. So I get to the gate at five
a.m. and the gate is locked. And I wasn’t going
through that gate. I knew that somebody would be arriving
probably around six thirty or seven to start doing some
of the things that need to be done there so I decided
that what I would do is just simply sit in my car and
pray, and think, and get ready emotionally and spiritually.
Because the time would come when I knew that the gate
would open. I just had to be patient and wait. So I did.
And eventually somebody came along and they knew the new
combination and they opened the gate and I went to my
is that way. Sometimes that’s just what God wants
us to do. We do everything we can, we try as hard as we
can to get through the locks and get through the gates,
but for some reason, maybe it’s beyond our imaginations
to figure out why, but for some reason God wants us to
bloom right there where we’re planted. We can’t
answer the questions, we can’t really explain why,
we just know. So what we have to do, throughout life,
is simply to feed our faith. And as we continue to feed
our faith, our doubts begin to starve. So there’s
different ways to do that. I read the devotionals every
morning. If you don’t have a good devotional, please
go online, we’ll e-mail you one. You can simply
sign up for our daily e-mail devotional. It will be mailed
to you. Just open up your e-mail and you read your devotional.
Watch the Hour of Power every Sunday or Saturday night.
Get involved with other people, get involved in another
church where you can surround yourself with support and
read positive books and in this way, what you do is you
feed your faith. As you feed your faith, your doubt will
came to a Quaker and asked the Quaker, have you ever seen
God? Have you ever smelled God? Have you ever felt God?
And yet you say you have a God. And the Quaker looked
at the atheist and he said hast thou ever seen thy brain?
Hast thou ever felt thy brain? Hast thou ever smelled
thy brain? And thou sayest thou hast a brain? As we continue
to feed our faith, our doubts begin to starve and as we
approach the obstacles in life and the challenges that
we face, we find that the gates open in different ways.
Sometimes you just drive up to them and they automatically
open. Sometimes you have to get out of the car and unlock.
Sometimes it’s the Dutch lock where you just take
it off and you drive through and sometimes you just stay
there and make the best of the situation. The fact is
that as we continue to believe it, believe that we can
accomplish the thing that God wants us to accomplish,
that with His help we can say to that mountain move and
you will see it move.
If you believe
it, you will see it. It starts with faith. “Faith
is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction
of things not seen.”