The Art of Being Faithful

I was shocked the morning he held out his tiny hand towards me inviting me to walk to the reading room to join the other preschoolers reading with their parents. The school asked me to be his reading buddy months prior, only to be rejected by him weekly for the greater part of the semester. Even the principal, who asked me to mentor this little, troubled tyke, suggested I move on and stop wasting time. I decided to stay faithful and show up – and this made all the difference in the life of this four-year-old known as “the worst kid in the school.” After entering the reading room my little buddy placed his head down on the table and covered both ears while I read a book about a little fire engine. It was going to be a long semester filled with deep learning about faithfulness in relationship – especially with those who come from difficult backgrounds. 

I’m set back a bit when I read scripture and see the giftedness of the “superstars.” Elijah called down lightning from the skies; David ran towards Goliath; Abraham lifted his knife over Isaac. It all seems a bit much when I look into the mirror and see a very average person staring back. Perhaps you relate when you think about life, ministry, and relationship. It would be good to see water gush forth from a rock or manna fall from the sky just a little more often. Yet, as I look deeper, I see a clear guiding principle that emerges in the life of each of these Biblical heroes. They “show up” and remain faithful which eventually bears fruit and longevity in their relationship with God and with others. Abraham faithfully waits 25 years for God to fulfill His word. David faithfully honors the king who hunts him and praises the God who allows it to happen. Jonathan faithfully warns his dearest friend to flee knowing that, in doing so, he forfeits his inherited right to a throne. Joseph faithfully shows mercy to his treacherous brothers and praises God for his divine plan. 

Faithfulness seems to be the key Biblical foundation for healthy spiritual life, mission work, and relational integrity. It certainly rings true in the mentoring world in which I currently work. It was also true in Romanian mission and state-side pastorates. Faithfulness keeps our family and marriages together when a troubled child acts out or when our kids struggle with social change issues or the appearance of a God who seems to allow terrible evil to exist in this fallen world. There are no easy answers to trauma-filled relationships; there is only faithfulness and love which holds us together. 

There are no easy answers to trauma-filled relationships; there is only faithfulness and love which holds us together. 

My little reading buddy and I read together every Friday morning at 7 AM. Somewhere along the line his face came up and his hands dropped to soak in the love this stranger extended during a short reading session. Something changed within him. Something changed within me. The “how” and the “when” eludes us; but the school noticed; the principal praised; the counselors spoke of a changed life and healed relationships at home. Faithfulness matters.

The Bible mentions God’s faithfulness as an inherent part of His love and righteousness and urges each believer to consider faithfulness as a key ingredient in the disciple’s pursuit of God. Many Psalms declare that “God’s love reaches to the heavens, His faithfulness to the skies.” (Psalm 36:5, 57:10). Psalm 100:5 reminds us that “The LORD is good, and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” A key attribute of God’s love is his relentless faithfulness towards His people – even when His people act unfaithfully in return. God’s faithfulness rises as a central theme of the Old Testament describing His pursuit of a nation that often wanders away into all sorts of sin. His faithfulness provides the basis of hope for all followers of Christ. It provides a model for us to pursue in our own, often messy, relationships here and now. 

Brothers and sisters, do you see yourself as average today? Perhaps, you too, wonder if anything you do matters. The child (church, mission, job) in your life refuses to lift its little hand and move forward with you. Friend, look to the cross. Look to the tenacious, faithful lover of your soul who hangs there and cries out, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). You are seen and loved faithfully. “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Heb. 6:10 – italics mine). Success, from heaven’s perspective, depends not on results achieved as much as it does on faithfulness pursued. Today I look in the mirror as an average minister. Behold! I see the tenacious, faithful, resurrected, King of Kings, staring back at me with wide open arms. Faithful friend, can you see Him in your reflection as well? 

Here is a song that might refresh your soul – Cochren and Co., One Day.

Ken Merrifield

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