Faith

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!


Producers of Praise, Wanderers of Wonder

"The chief aim of worship is that we be caught up in love, in wonder, and praise of God and finally for a moment forget about ourselves and our trials and our worries and focus on God himself." Ben Witherington III (via leslieannjones.com)

One of the best parts of seminary is sitting under the teaching of world-renowned biblical scholars. It's what I miss the most about my days at Beeson. As a busy mom, I'm incredibly thankful for churches and ministries that provide sermons and lectures online. I spend a lot of time in the car, shuttling the girls around town, and in an effort to redeem some of that time, I've started listening to podcasts while I drive. 

Last week, I planned to run some errands after preschool dropoff, so before I left the school, I pulled up a 30-minute chapel sermon to listen to along the way. It was a sermon about worship from New Testament scholar Ben Witherington III. He shared a story about a little old lady in his home church who could hardly see or hear but persisted in coming to worship anyway. When someone asked her why she continued to come, despite her physical limitations, she had a ready answer.

Y'all.

Her words had tears welling up in my eyes. I sat in the parking lot of Home Depot watching people load up with mulch and gardening tools, and I was completely transfixed by the message coming out of my speakers.

"I'm not here for what I can get out of the service, but what I came to give: my worship to my Lord...I come to worship prepared to give worship though I don't get as much as I used to in that hour."

Witherington goes on to say that when we come to worship looking to get something rather than give something, we're missing the point. We are not consumers of worship. We're producers of it. 

"The chief aim of worship," Witherington says, "is that we be caught up in love, in wonder, and praise of God and finally for a moment forget about ourselves and our trials and our worries and focus on God himself."

I need that. Do you?

I've written before about why we should go to church even when don't feel like it, and this sermon gets right to the heart of it. Church is not about us. It's about God. When I come to church, I come to give time, attention, honor, and glory to the one who has rescued and redeemed me.

When I turn my eyes to him and gaze full on at his glory, everything else seems a bit less urgent and pressing. It's relief. It's surrender. It's getting so lost in him that everything else fades away.

At least for a little while.

People are always looking for an escape from the reality of life. Some find it in music, art, and books. Others find it in travel and adventure. Still others find it in more profane activities like drinking or sex. I've pursued some of those remedies myself, and though they can be quite enjoyable, none of them give me what I actually need. 

What I actually need is to get outside of myself and seek refuge in the Rock that's higher than I. To wander in the wonder of his majesty. I've found nothing more restorative for my weary soul than glorying in the splendor of my Lord, and therein lies the astounding truth. When we give our whole selves to God and honor him in worship, he honors us by giving us the respite that our souls require. 

God demands our adoration and praise. Don't you think it's interesting that the very thing he requires of us is the only thing that fulfills the deepest longings of our restless hearts? 

I've included the video of the sermon below. If you have about 30 minutes, you really should listen to the whole thing, but if you only have a few, fast forward to about the 12:35 mark and start from there. 

Until next time, grace and peace.


Introducing Known: A Study on John

I've spent the past several weeks in a new Bible study with a wonderfully beautiful and diverse group of women here in Brandon. Known is a chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse study on the Gospel of John, and it's been so sweet to open up the Word with these women each week.

John (along with Matthew, Mark, and Luke) is all about the person and work of Jesus Christ, so there's really no better way to prepare our hearts and minds for Easter than to spend the weeks leading up to it meditating on his life and studying his words.

We're about halfway through the study, and a beautifully honest picture of Jesus is emerging. He works wonders and wields words with the power and authority that belongs to God alone. He is unapologetically truthful, using truth both as a sword to cut through false assumptions and as a balm to soothe weary souls. For those who would look past his human exterior and behold the glory peeking through, he offers grace, truth, and a wellspring of eternal life.

My prayer for this study is that God would make himself known to us—that by gazing upon the Word that became flesh, we would see his glory with wonder anew. That is, after all, why he came. That we may know him, and that we may spend our lives making him known.

If that sounds like something you're interested in, you don't have to be local to take part. That's the beauty of the internet, friends! You can find everything you need to get started, including the learner workbook and weekly podcasts, on the Known Bible study page.

I hope you'll join us! We'd love to have you. Until next time, grace and peace.