A Future of Faithfulness

Lately I’ve been hearing again in different spiritual circles a reminder that God made many promises, but a perfect, pain-free life was not one of them. No, God made us many promises throughout the Bible, and continues to do so each day, but that was not one of them. The promise we’ve been talking about this month is God’s promise of faithfulness. In fact, God’s been abundantly gracious about being faithful to us, more faithful than we often deserve, especially with our tendency to get distracted and forget our promises.

Faithfulness is a challenge for most of us in this world today. It’s a challenge for us to follow through on our promises when no one else seems to, and yet we get frustrated when people don’t take us at our word. With so many people not following through or not being completely honest, everyone seems to second guess what anyone else says.

If you were to ask God if He ever gets frustrated with us and our lack of faithfulness and His continued faithfulness through it all He would probably say that it hurts Him more than anything. If we were to really take a look at our feelings of frustration on the topic of faithfulness I think we would discover that deep down it’s not just that we’re frustrated but that we’re hurt that we were let down again.

If we look back over our lives, however long we’ve been blessed to live thus far, I think we’ll see that time and again God has shown up when no one else has, despite all circumstances, but not always in the ways we expected. Sometimes faithfulness is showing up with the cake and presents as expected. Other times it’s just about showing up. As we finish out this month I would encourage you to consider what you’re being faithful to in your life. Are you faithful to yourself, your partner, your boss, your kids, God?

“As I look back over fifty years of ministry, I recall innumerable tests, trials and times of crushing pain. But through it all, the Lord has proven faithful, loving, and totally true to all his promises.” David Wilkerson

Ready to Fight?

I usually write about families on my other blog on Fridays, but I thought we’d bring the conversation over here today, partly because family, in whatever form yours comes in, is a big part of who we are and what has shaped us throughout our lives. You’ve heard countless stories of late of careless and even downright piss poor parents who have treated their kids terribly, even killing them in some cases, accidental or otherwise. I know as well as you do that some people have mental disorders that can demolish their logic, their comprehension and grip on reality, but that’s not the case for everyone. Most of us have a very good idea of what’s going on around us, usually enough that we have the ability to ask for help before it gets too serious. But I digress from the topic that I actually want to talk about today: the kids in those situations.

They’re the ones that suffer for years after because of physical and/or psychological complications, but they also suffer when the rest of the world treats them as only a victim. Yes, they absolutely are victims, there’s no doubt about it. No one should be subject to the violence presented in domestic and other abuse situations. And they do deserve our support and compassion for the complications and challenges they experience as a result. but they don’t deserve to be treated as less than capable individuals because they were victims. No, we’ve seen time and again exactly how strong victims can be and how capable they are. Just because they’ve experienced hell on earth doesn’t mean they’re not capable of creating amazing victories just like you and I.

What if instead of just treating people who suffered as victims we went out of our way to make sure they got the support they needed to live normal lives like we do? What if instead of seeing them as people who have suffered and deserve our sympathy but rather those who conquered serious obstacles that they didn’t have any control over? What if we just saw them as people, not people who have suffered, but people who have the ability to do anything with their lives, just like we do?

What if instead of bemoaning our problems and issues we stood up and made something of our lives? What if instead of always looking for the handout, the easy way out or that get rich quick scheme we did what it took to make the victories we want happen? What if instead of giving in after the first or tenth failure we went on to try a different route, different perspective or different focus to find the success we knew was just waiting out of reach? What if instead of focusing on the failures we pursued the victories?

“If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell.Lance Armstrong

Be Faithful to Yourself

Being faithful means being honest with ourselves at all times: when we get that gut feeling to take a detour, when we have too much evidence to prove that our kids are doing something not right, when we know we have to leave our job because it’s slowly killing us, when we have been just getting by in life instead of passionately thriving. It’s not easy to be honest with ourselves always, it’s much easier to make up excuses or accept the lies we’re told. But having been there I know that sometimes it’s one story too many, one lie too many, one extra project too many and things just crack.

It’s when we’re not faithful to the loving, caring, compassionate, supportive, growing, people-needing person that we are that things can get ugly. When we lie to ourselves and others, when we procrastinate, when we continue to put our sub-par work that doesn’t reflect the capable and smart humans that we are that we need to realize that we’re not only not being faithful but we’re damaging ourselves and the world around us.

But when we choose to be the bigger person, make the choice that isn’t the easiest but is right, when we choose to take action and stand up for ourselves is when we begin to be honest about who we are and what we need in life and begin to be faithful to ourselves. Trust me when I tell you that there are plenty of people around the world trying to copy each other that the world doesn’t need another copycat. I meet them on a weekly basis because they’re frustrated that they can’t make themselves fit into someone else’s shoes and they can’t understand why it’s not working.

The world doesn’t go round by all of us being presidents, civil activists, parents or burger lovers. The world thrives on our unique differences, but only when we’re faithful to letting them free into the world. If we want to see the world continue down the dark and dirty rabbit hole it’s been heading in in many ways we should continue to join up with groups that kill, steal, hurt and conquer. But if we want a world that we don’t worry about whether or not we’ll wake up the next day, if we’ll be safe on an airline or boat or what our neighbors are really doing behind closed doors, we need to start making some changes and bring our unique talents and abilities that help the world grow and thrive to the table.

There will always be people who think it’s better to be faithful to the dark side, at least as long as there’s sin in the world. But the evidence is pretty compelling that those types of people only bring destruction to the world, not life and happiness. I don’t know about you, but I know which one I want to be part of.

“Endeavour to be faithful, and if there is any beauty in your thought, your style will be beautiful; if there is any real emotion to express, the expression will be moving.” George Henry Lewes

Faithful to Our Callings

Sometimes being faithful means that you keep a secret, other times it means telling the world. There have been lots of deathbed invoked promises, secrets and stories. In life it’s our opportunity to be faithful to someone, and it can be a challenge if we do or don’t want to follow through. In the case of God, He wants us to be faithful to sharing the word about Him, using words when necessary.

I’ve always been intrigued by that phrase, “using words when necessary.” It means that sometimes actions can be more powerful than words, and sometimes what’s necessary are words. We aren’t always that great with our words or actions in any aspect of our lives. We tend to speak and act before thinking which often leading to conclusions, results and issues that are much greater than they were before we said or did anything. We all need to do a better job on our actions and our words, in all areas of our lives. When it comes to being faithful sometimes our actions are more important than our words.

When someone asks us to do a better job with living our life than they did we usually need to work on our actions more than our words, as words have probably been empty in the past. Too many of us are all talk and no action. I’m not talking about those who donate to causes, they’re putting their finances where their feet can’t go. But rather those who rant and rave over things but never do anything to make changes happen.

God has asked us to not only be faithful with secrets but also with telling the world. He asks us to develop a personal relationship with Him, one that is just between the two of you. In most cases He doesn’t expect or want you to stand in the middle of Time Square in NYC and say The Lord’s Prayer. No, He treasures the relationship you two have and those quiet moments are just as important to Him as they are between a couple.

God also asks us to be representatives for Him. Sometimes that means talking, other times acting, but whatever the situation calls for God asks you to do it. We’re not just here to connect with God in a way that wouldn’t be the same if we were all in Heaven, but rather to connect with other people who feel just as lost, just as lonely, just as hurt as we do some days; people that can only be comforted by a God they know nothing about.

What will your choice be this week? Will you choose to be faithful to what God has called you?

“I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of your unfailing love and faithfulness.” Psalm 40:10

The Gift of Purpose

Each day we’re given a powerful gift: the ability to change the world.  We may not look like Shakespeare, Alexander the Great, Abraham Lincoln or Mother Teresa, and we may not have the ability to touch as much of the world as quickly as they did, but we do still have the ability to change the world, even if it’s only our little corner.  It’s something we should all be very thankful for, because it is a gift.  To have the ability to touch a life through a kind word, good deed or or even a donation is truly a gift.

I know many of us wake up and wish we could stay in bed, and don’t see our value, whether it’s because we’re so stressed by the kids running around or the bills piling up, if we’re bored with what we’re doing, if our talents are underutilized, if we’re treated like dirt by others or whatever the case may be, we aren’t as invested in life as we could or should be.  It’s understandable because there are way too many people around the world who are OK with letting anyone and everyone else take on the burden of getting things done, and too many people who can’t recognize the value that each and every person has.

The first step to remedying the situation is to ask for help.  When you’re paralyzed by the issues in your life you can’t contribute in the way that you could.  Too many of us are too worried about what others think and don’t want to reach out, but it’s in that reaching out and admitting that we need support and help that we actually unleash our potential.

The second step is in recognizing, appreciating, developing and using our talents.  If we’re not able to see our own value, and no one has shared that value with us we need to first find or discover it.  Then we need to wake up each and every day being grateful for who we are and the value we have the ability to share with the world.  Why? Because when we make the recognition of our amazing value and potential an integral part of our daily lives we’ll be reminded often how blessed we are to have the ability to do good for the world.  It’s truly special that we’re here on earth for the purpose of making it a better place.

When you see the gifts and talents you have as something to be grateful of and use in the world it opens up great potential.  If we all used our talents rather than trying to fit in a mold or just do whatever to make ends meet we’d be much happier, and I believe we would all be more successful.

Together We are Strong

It’s not easy to admit weaknesses.  We like to be strong people.  We like to be people that others admire. But the simple honest truth is that we’re not perfect and we each have weaknesses.  I can’t do everything well, I am very happy to admit that.  Do you know why?  Because it means you have a purpose in my life.  It means that if I want my life to become its full potential I need to be willing to let you and your gifts into my life.

Yes, it’s a little scary knowing that I’m depending on you to fulfill your end of my needs like buying my services, growing my food or building my car or home.  I have no control over whether you will or won’t, I just have to hope that you’ll do what it takes to keep the world moving just like I will.

One of the things I love best about my partner (that’s significant other for you traditionalists) is that he admits that he can’t do or be everything and accepts that I can’t do or be everything either.  We accept that we have areas in which we lack and need the other to support us.  There are even times when we have to be honest with each other and admit that we need a little extra support and TLC.

But in order to have the kind of relationship that we don’t see it as a bad thing to be weak, but rather part of the glue that keeps us together, it means we have to be vulnerable with each other.  But because we choose this in our partnership we’re able to come together and be something much stronger and better than either of us have had in previous relationships or could be by ourselves.

If you’re willing to be vulnerable and place a measure of trust in others you too can have the world of possibilities open up before you.  But it is only most successful when we all do it together.

“When we have nothing to cling to as our own and cease thinking of ourselves as people who must defend privileges, we can open ourselves freely to others with the faithful expectation that our strength will manifest itself in our shared weakness.”  Henri Nouwen

Promises, Promises

Just about every day we say the words “I promise.”  Keeping your promises means that your words are more than just words.  That they have a purpose, a life of their own even.  When you make a promise to yourself or someone about something, you’re doing more than just sharing words.  But even calling them “just” words is a bit misleading because they are never just words. Words have power, power that we give them by thinking, saying and using them.  The question is what will we do with our power?

Will we choose to keep our promises, giving real value to our words, or will we prove over and over again that we’re untrustworthy and unable to follow through on our commitments?  It’s unfortunate that many of us aren’t able to keep up with our commitments, or bite off more than we can chew.  It’s OK to make an honest mistake but all too often we’re greedy or lazy or just not as honestly committed to things as we should be or agreed to be.

We’ve failed as people and we’ve failed as children of God before.  We’re not perfect and it can be really hard, even intimidating to try to keep up with God and His unbelievable power and abilities, not to mention the tiny fact that He’s perfect.  The good news is that God knows we’re not perfect and still loves us and is willing to be patient while we learn what it means to keep our promises.

It can be really hard to keep our promises when things distract us or go wrong.  When we feel like people have failed us or things get screwed up we just want to throw in the towel.  But that’s not what God wants us to do. God wants us to be patient and learn how to work through the tough times and learn what it means to be reliable and dependable. No, we’re not supposed to stay in anything that would harm us or others, but that doesn’t eliminate as many things as you may think, it certainly leaves plenty for us to follow through on yet we don’t.

Sometimes it’s fear, sometimes we’re tired, but whatever the reasons we’ve slacked on our commitments too many times.  Choose love this week when you face commitments and choices, and do your best to follow through with God as your example.

“Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.” Deuteronomy 7:9