It will be thirty-nine years in August. How eagerly I waited for the day of my wedding. We had dated off and on for nine years. Somewhere in there God saved us both for Himself. When my man finally asked my daddy if he could marry me, we planned and executed a wedding within five days. It had been a long and unpredictable romance, a whirlwind engagement, but the marriage has been slow and steady and faithful and satisfying. We promised before God and family on that day so long ago to love and honor and be true to each other till death do us part. By His grace we continue.
Our world is marked by unfaithfulness. Nothing new. The Bible is filled with unfaithfulness–Stories of many unfaithful people, that is. Unfaithfulness comes in many stripes and colors. Unfaithful to a spouse in adultery… Unfaithful in promises made to a friend… Our word has ceased to be our bond. Unfaithful concerning loyalties…Gossip…Disobedience to parents, to authorities, to God…all marks of the unfaithful heart. We find a myriad examples in our own relationships and spheres of acquaintances and God has given us many examples in Scripture. Adam and Eve. Cain. The whole world save Noah. Israel. Achan. King Saul. Scribes. Pharisees. Judas.
At times faithfulness seems tedious, like a lumbering ox plowing a field, ponderously going up and down the furrows day after day, not understanding the reward following the monotony. Unlike the cow we have reasoning powers and can consciously discern that the everyday-ness of faithfulness yields much harvest, but we too easily get tired or bored and throw up our hands, wondering if it is worth it. How many diapers must I change and how many arguments must I umpire? How often am I required to suffer the wounds of that friend or family member? How much longer will I have strength to care for my frail parent? How many months or years must I pray for a son’s salvation? What’s in it for me? We’re tired of the world’s sneers at our beliefs and life-style. Don’t we have a right to autonomy, to be free to do as we please? And the world beckons with its deceiving and attractive selfishness. ‘Come with me. Throw off your yoke of bondage to others. Do as you feel.’ Exhaustion from responsibilities can do that to us.
But, as we know, all of life is bound up in consequences for decisions and behaviors. In our right-thinking moments we see the results of unfaithfulness around us, of the bodies strewn along the way, damaged and bloodied, marriages and friendships broken, reputations sullied, children devastated, hearts shattered. Lies. Deceit. We never sin alone.
But God…In His glorious strength and power intrudes into our lives (as Joni Tada aptly says) and breaks the power of our selfish hearts and gives grace to be faithful in that difficult marriage, to be kind in that hurtful friendship, to be patient with that little one who spills and makes messes, to be tender with the parent who is becoming a child again. We are not to be weary in doing good, says Paul in Galatians 6:9, because in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. But before that, in the same chapter, he said that if we sow to our own flesh (selfishness) we will bear its fruit: corruption. If we sow to the Spirit (obedience to Christ) we will reap eternal life. That’s why we do not become faint-hearted in faithfulness to what God commands. And then Paul enjoins us to do good to everyone, as opportunity arises, especially to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
There you have it… We are weak and ‘prone to wander’, we find it difficult to consider others before ourselves and to focus our hearts on the reward for faithfulness. Let us turn from ourselves, my sister, and “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, LOOKING UNTO JESUS, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” Christ’s life was rough here on earth, but “for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (From Hebrews 12:2)
When you feel as though you cannot put one foot in front of the other, think on that day when our longings to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your master,” will be realized and we will see Jesus face to face.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12) All by His mercy and grace.