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

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

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

The Past is Fact

School is a time when we think often about the next generation. We’re busy trying to prepare them for the often overwhelming world we live and work in today with all the relationship and other challenges.  It also makes us think about the legacy we’re leaving them.  The thing we all have to remember is that everyone has a bias of some kind or another.  I won’t teach on a subject or event the same way you will because I see different things as important than you do.  This is one reason why I believe babysitters and community/church groups are good for kids to get involved with, because it provides perspectives that parents alone cannot provide.  You are who you are and believe what you believe.  Yes, we can all change and we all do, but most of us don’t change until we’re exposed to another idea or way of looking at things.

But back to our conversation on having a bias, the thing about learning and thinking about the past is that it is what it is.  It can’t be changed.  Yes, new revelations can put a new spin on what happened or why, perhaps clearing someone for something they did or connecting the dots finally.  But I can’t change what’s in my past, neither can you.  There are two things we need to do in response to our past though.

First is to stop judging it.  It happened, it’s over.  It’s really that simple. What’s not simple is whether or not we’ve learned the lesson we were meant to learn from it or not.  You can’t change what the past is, it’s now fact.  You can however choose not to let it ruin your present or your future.

Instead do step two: take the lessons from it and be faithful to living in a way that reflects that you learned something.  You’ll screw up again, but if you actually take the time to make changes and behave in a different way you’ll screw up less often and be less likely to repeat the mistake or error you did in the past.

“To state the facts frankly is not to despair the future nor indict the past. The prudent heir takes careful inventory of his legacies and gives a faithful accounting to those whom he owes an obligation of trust.”  John F. Kennedy

Should I Stay or Should I Go

One of the biggest challenges we face in life is knowing when God wants us to stay and when He wants us to keep moving.  Sometimes God wants us to play an active role in our getting out of a situation, other times He wants us to sit back and watch Him work.  We’re not all as close to God and able to hear His voice as maybe used to be the case, so it’s not always as easy as we’d want it to be to know which one to do.

Sometimes it’s really obvious to know which you should do. You’ve probably heard the story about the person trapped on a flooded house and a row boat comes and goes (the guy tells them he’s waiting for God), then a bigger boat comes and goes (again he tells them he’s waiting for God) and then a really big boat comes and goes (again he tells them he’s waiting for God) and then he dies because the water gets too high.  When he gets to heaven he asks God why God didn’t rescue him and God yells at him for not seeing the boats as a means of rescue.

Sometimes it will be a perfectly natural solution or assistance that God sends our way when we’re in need, other times it’s supernatural.  As long as we do our fact checking and make sure we’re not being taken in for a scam, we should accept the solutions that come our way.

The one thing that people often forget is that to get God’s assistance we have to ask Him.  He may know everything that’s going on, but He likes knowing that we remember He’s there and our need of Him.  It’s not an ego thing, it’s a partner thing.  If you’re really partners with someone you’ll communicate your need to them and them their need to you.  Who doesn’t like being needed?

If you’re struggling this week I encourage you to first make sure that you’ve reached out for God, He will be faithful to respond to your call.  Then make sure you’re considering your options and ready to move as the situation develops.

“So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.” Isaiah 30:18