Shaped by Faithfulness

Shaped by Faithfulness // Leslie Ann Jones

Last week on Instagram, I posted a quote from Katie Davis Majors' new book Daring to Hope (releases Oct. 3), and I just can't seem to stop thinking about it.

"Surely, faithfulness is not a one-time act, not a decision or a destination, not something to eventually be attained. Faithfulness is what we repeatedly do. It is a habit formed of long, hard obedience in the quiet. Faithfulness is dropping milk through a syringe for hours into a mouth that could barely swallow in the middle of the night. Faithfulness is pursuing that resistant teenager again (and again and again) even though she yells and hurls ugly words. Faithfulness is in chopping carrots and folding laundry and all the things that go unseen and unnoticed. Faithfulness is in a million tiny decisions and a million small surrenderings—submitting with a simple, 'yes, Lord,'—that create a lifetime of obedience in the extraordinary and in the mundane...⠀

...Faithfulness is what we repeatedly do, whether or not we are seeing the results. Faithfulness is when we repeatedly pour into hard people, when we continue to serve in hard situations, when we intentionally choose to lean into Him in our difficulties as well as our joys. Faithfulness is a habit formed in our hearts when no one is looking, when the day is done and the stars creep out and our call isn't easy, but we don't turn away.⠀

And ultimately, faithfulness is truly and fully found in the One who pursues us though we thrash against Him, who sits with us as we wait in the silence, who fulfills all His promises with a Yes and Amen in life everlasting."

—Katie Davis Majors, Daring to Hope

As I mull over Katie's words and consider how very unfaithful I can be at times, I'm learning that faithfulness is hard because it's a long-haul kind of process. We don't always see the results immediately, and the rewards aren't always tangible.

But that doesn't mean it's not worth it.

It's the faithfulness itself that shapes us. The repeated action that becomes a habit that becomes a way of life. Before we know it, that thing that we've been doing every day is part of us, and we are different because of it.

When it comes to Bible study and prayer and church, we may not feel warm and fuzzy, or anything at all for that matter, in the moment. We may not always experience a spiritual high, gain a life-altering insight, or feel especially close to God. But He is there, nevertheless, using our attempts at faithfulness to make us more like Him day by day. He is, after all, as faithful as it gets.

As we come, morning by morning opening the Word and sitting for just a few minutes in the stillness, Truth sinks in. It becomes the background music in the soundtrack of our lives, and it comes to mind throughout the day—as we wash dishes or drive to yet another soccer practice—and in that simple way, we are transformed. It's not exciting. It's not flashy. But it's good.

For the past month or so, I've been faithfully washing one load of laundry each morning. The girls get on the bus. I finish my first cup of coffee. Sometimes I pray, but, let's be real here, sometimes I just catch up on Instagram. Either way, when the coffee is finished, I get up, collect the previous day's clothes, and toss them in the wash before I head to the office with my second cup of coffee, Bible, and journal. When the clothes are all done, I fold them and put them away (well, usually, anyway), and that's it.

I'm not even kidding when I say that it has changed my life.

I used to spend weekends buried beneath mountains of laundry. It always seemed like a daunting task because there was just so much of it to tackle at one time. But when I do a little bit every day, it only takes a few minutes, and I actually enjoy the process. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment and makes me feel that even if nothing else gets done for the day, I've at least accomplished this one small thing. It's not exciting. It's not flashy. But it's good.

It's the same way with matters of faith. When we go for a long time without opening our Bibles or spending time in prayer or going to church, it becomes a thing. The longer we stay out of it, the harder it is to get back into it.

We think we need to somehow make up for the time we've lost or that we have to have the perfect conditions (a quiet house, worship music playing softly in the background, candle flickering gently nearby) to come near once more. But because we're busy and life is crazy, that perfect moment never comes. We put it off and put it off and put it off just like I used to put off the laundry. And it never gets done.

We can be so silly sometimes.

You don't have to have a perfect moment to return to the Lord. It's as effortless as letting your eyes drift shut and whispering a prayer. It's as easy as opening your Bible and quietly allowing it sink in to do its work. It's as simple as getting in the car and driving to church on Sunday morning. And then doing it again, and again, and again until it becomes second nature. We're shaped by faithfulness. It's not exciting. It's not flashy. But it's good.

Faithfulness is a choice that we repeatedly make. It's not a one and done kind of thing. It's choosing day by day, moment by moment, to do what's best, even when we don't feel like it. It requires tending. It must be cultivated and babied and nurtured. But if you keep at it long enough, it will grow stronger, and it will end up changing you into the person that God intended for you to be all along.

And the best part is that when we choose faithfulness, we show the world what God is like. He gets all the glory. And that's what it's all about.

My prayer today is that the Lord would cultivate a spirit of faithfulness in us. That He would grant us grace in our endeavors and that at the end of our days, He would find us faithful.

Until next time, grace and peace.

Win a Copy of Daring to Hope

I'm giving away a copy of Katie's book on Instagram! Daring to Hope is a sweet, sweet message of choosing hope and practicing faithfulness when life doesn't go the way you planned and God doesn't answer prayers the way you expected. It was good for my heart, and I'm certain it would be good for yours as well. You NEED to read this book. Click through to enter. Good luck!

When Darkness Looms: An Open Call to the Church

When Darkness Looms: An Open Call to the Church to step up and BE the light in the darkness.

There have been many times over the past year or so that I've been completely bewildered by the world I wake up in each morning. It seems as if it's all going to hell in a handbasket. And quite quickly, at that.

The news is bad and just gets worse. Christians are facing genocide in the Middle East. Terrorists are striking major cities left and right. People are fleeing from homes and countries, only to be rejected by the rest of the world.

And even here, in the United States, where things are supposed to be better, it's not. As if the worst presidential race in history isn't bad enough, it's quite apparent that we are a nation divided. Not just on one or two hot button issues, but on everything. We can't agree on anything. We squabble. We fight it out on social media. We point fingers. We lay blame. We call names. We spew vitriol. And worst of all, we kill.

It's horrifying and tragic and senseless. As I sit here in horror at the name-calling and mud-slinging and judgment-casting and hate-mongering and people-slaying, I think to myself, "This is what the Bible means when it says that the world is broken."

It's in times like this, as sin runs rampant in our hearts and homes, ripping apart communities, nations, and yes, even the world itself, that I see just how much we really need Jesus. The world is broken before us. It's aching and bleeding and groaning for redemption. Do you see it? Can you hear it?

The darkness is thick, for sure, but don't let it fool you. It is not so thick that the light of Christ can't pierce it. It's so important now, more than ever, for the Church to actually BE the Church, because it's precisely in the midst of this terrible brokenness that we are most needed. We must be brokers of peace, bringers of justice, and bearers of light. 

We must love others without flinching, without regard to skin color or background. We must lift our voices in outcry against injustice, whether we have experienced it personally or not. We must open our doors to those who are different, be they refugees from around the world or our neighbors of another color from down the street.

We must present to the world an alternative to the brokenness. We must be a vision of heaven on earth. We must demonstrate that God's love is big enough and powerful enough to overcome even the most impenetrable of barriers dividing us. We must show the world that the blood of Christ is strong enough to instill peace in place of enmity, light in place of darkness, and love in place of hate.

If we who claim to be followers of God will not step up and do this, then we shouldn't be surprised when the rest of the world wants nothing to do with him. We have stood idly by for long enough. It's time for us to be the kind of people that God has created us to be. He has raised us up for such a time as this. This is the reason for our existence—to point to the light when darkness looms near.

Oh, Lord, help us. Our hearts are shattered. Everywhere we look, Father, we see pain, injustice, and brokenness. Bind up our bleeding hearts, Lord and mend what is broken in us and among us. Help us stitch together the ragged edges of a country and world that have been ripped apart at the seams. Oh Lord, the violence, the killings, the hatred, and the vitriol are all too much to bear. We are devastated, and we are lost.

But we are not without hope. You have loved this broken and bleeding world so much that you gave your life up for her. Lord, I pray that you will help the Church rise up in this present darkness. Overcome our differences, Lord, and unify us in Christ. Help us be your hands and feet. Help us to bind up the brokenhearted. Help us to broker peace. Help us to show the world that your love is more powerful than the sin that divides and destroys. Let us be a vision of heaven on earth. Help us, Father, to be your people, to be bearers of light and harbingers of hope in the thickest places of darkness.

Fill us with your Spirit, God. Do through us what we cannot do ourselves. To your name be praise and glory and honor now and forevermore. Amen.

Until next time, grace and peace.

A Prayer for Memorial Day

A Prayer for Memorial Day
"O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

The Book of Common Prayer