Tuesday, October 14, 2014

14 | Be Faithful

My apologies to those born after 1983.  The references in today's post to record players and old fashioned stereos will make very little sense unless you YouTube "prehistoric entertainment machines."  (Do you still YouTube?)  Consider it my invitation to get in touch with the older generation. ;') 

I don't know about you, but I typically feel pretty faithful.  Until I realize I'm not.

I'll be moseying along, doing my most-days Bible reading thing, praying here and there and everywhere, working on being still with God.  I'll be saying "show me the way, Lord," and "lead me to where you need me."  Checking all those spiritual practice and faith walk-the-talk boxes.

Then a project will stall.  An event will have a low turnout.  Or responses will be less than enthusiastic.

The soundtrack in my head plays that scritcccchheekkkccchk of the record player needle scratching over the vinyl.  

And, inevitably, because I'm flawed and human and slow, I look up at God and say, "What gives?  I thought you wanted this too?  What's up with this thing that feels like failure?"

Huh.  Not a lot of faith happening there.

In fact, I think that's pretty much what God must be saying when I pull that "What gives?" routine.

So, when I'm done pouting and picking holes in my efforts and questioning the whole purpose of what I was trying to do, I take a deep breath.  I just work on being still.  I twiddle the tuner buttons until I'm back on the God channel.  I rest and wait and listen until that feeling of failure fades to something that looks a lot more like faith.

I had to do exactly that today.  We had a spiritual practices open house of sorts in our church's chapel. Two hours for people enter into the stillness and enjoy some quiet meditation, some soft and spiritual music, and a little Lectio Divina.  Aside from a most gracious and talented musician and myself, one person stopped by.  

Now I had prayed about this and Facebook-ed and emailed about this, then I talked-it-up and prayed some more and added an extra layer of prayer, with whipped cream and a cherry on top.  I was pretty sure I covered all the bases.

So why just one person in the pews?

Is it because I didn't have enough faith?  Not even a mustard seed morsel?

Maybe it's because I expected a different mountain to move.  I wasn't looking in the right place for the action and the answered prayers.  My eyes were fixed on what was seen: empty pews.

What God reminded me, through remembered words from last week's conversation with a colleague, was that some results are not seen.  If one or two people show up, that might look like a disappointing turnout.  But God brought those people exactly where they needed to be, and that is complete victory.  And those other people? The ones who didn't make it?  Perhaps they were exactly where they needed to be, doing a different kind of work for God.  And maybe, most likely, new traditions need time to build and grow and blossom.

Today in our chapel we created something beautiful: hushed stillness in the midst of a busy city.  Sunlight streaming through stained glass.  Grace-filled guitar notes and a beautiful voice, lifting up lyrics of praise and prayer.  I got to pray for two hours — about worries and work and next steps for our quiet chapel time — prayers that I definitely needed to lift up and let go.  And I got to listen, really listen for God in the music and the quiet and the creaking of old floorboards — which is what I needed even more.

I figure at least 99% of God's incredible work is unseen by human eyes.  I can't begin to comprehend how he works.  And I certainly don't understand his timing. That's where faith comes in.

When we don't get the answer we want or expect, faith helps us to be still.  It helps us to switch from our expectations to God's vision, from what is seen to what is unseen.  It builds a bridge from disappointment to hope to trust.  It gives us patience to wait and to just be still as God continues his work in us and around us.

Let's pause here a moment and pray for the stillness and patience that faithfulness can provide.


You are so very faithful with me.  When my own faith wavers, you lead me to be still, to find strength in you.  When I am impatient and impudent, you hear me out and lead me to deeper understanding.  When I am near-sighted, you help me to see your vision.  When I am out of ideas, you bring new ones out of the uncertainty and into focus.  When I stop my planning and turn to praying, you always provide.

via Pinterest

Help me to be faithful as I follow you.  Help me to trust in my steps as I leave my current path and seek out your better way.  I know my steps will falter.  But I know more truly that you will carry me through my clumsy stumbles and falls.  Thank you for patching the holes in my faith, for making my trust whole.

Lord, switch my focus from the seen to the unseen, from the earthly measures to the heavenly motions.  Be my vision, my faith-filled vision.  Be my understanding.  Be my strength and patience and perseverance.  And when these gifts come slowly, help me to be still and wait for them to catch up with me and guide me.

For faith makes everything fall into place.  When my faith in you is strong, I have hope.  I have peace.  I have joy.  Thank you for these fruits of faith, Lord, for the fruit of your Holy Spirit.  Thank you for taking my hand, for leading me on, and for helping me stand firm in my faith.


More motivation for when you need faith...

Lysa TerKeurst always inspires me when I falter.

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