Journeys of Faithfulness, ch. 11: Growing in Faithfulness

journeys[box] Read chapter 11 in Journeys of Faithfulness.[/box] For every thrilling moment in life there are a thousand ordinary days. At least, that is what I have discovered. Sarah, in this chapter, says it this way: “For every brilliant moment in the life of a hero, there are a thousand faithful minutes in which nothing exciting or noble happens at all. There are countless days during which all the hero does is clean, work, and love in dull, daily rounds.” She says it more poetically than I do, but I have found this to bear out in my own life.

I remember the excitement of graduating and giving our class valedictory speech. That was quite an honor. But before that, there were endless days of homework, exams, and papers. And lots more afterwards too!

I remember the moment on my first missions trip when I saw at least four of my summer ESL students give their lives to Christ. Though I was not the one to share the gospel with them, I knew that the sweat, mosquito bites, bus rides, and hours of lesson prep paid off, and now we will share eternity in heaven.

Then there was the day I got married. I remember standing before friends and family with my best friend, reciting vows I had memorized (okay, so I am a bit of an overachiever!). But after the honeymoon, there were boxes to unpack, thank you notes to write, meals to cook, and now, laundry for two to do.

janna1And then, of course, there are the amazing moments when the nurse finally hands you your brand new baby (or the caregivers bring your new little girl to your door). You finally get to meet these little people that you have been waiting for months to see. I particularly remember the birth of my first child over 30 hours after I was admitted into the hospital and then finally delivered via c-section. I marveled at everything about her.

And then we went home. And the sleep deprivation, countless diapers, baths, meals began. Now, it's preparation for graduation from high school.

In our society that glories in these highlights of life, little is said about those ordinary days in between. The days when nobody sees what you do. The days that are so boring and monotonous you think you'll scream. The days when it is hard, but you know you need to hunker down and press through it.

And yet, what I am learning is that if we expect life to be at high pitch all the time, we fail to benefit from one of the greatest things that these ordinary days can teach us: how to be faithful when nothing exciting is going on. For more often than not, that is what life really consists of.

And that is what Ruth, our heroine, had to face too. In between the bookends of her decision to follow Naomi to a new home and embrace her God and her fairy-tale wedding to Boaz, Ruth most likely had to do many rounds of mundane tasks. Picking up grains of barley behind the workers probably ranks up there with (literally) backbreaking work. But from Ruth, we see that this was not a waste of time at all, for it built her character and though unknown to her, was building her future as well.

Life for me today is a dull, monotonous round of therapy exercises, schoolwork, meals, laundry, and volleyball games. There are days when I feel like going out to the grocery store by myself is a treat, and I linger over the task as long as possible to keep from having to go back home to face what lies there. It is in these moments that the lesson from this week's chapter really spurs me on to keep going.

Dear friends, wherever you are, whether you are a teen or collegiate doing homework every night, a young graduate in your first ground-level job, a newly married young woman setting up your first home, or a brand new mom wondering what on earth to do with a screaming baby, these are all the precious moments God gives us to grow in our faithfulness. And to Him, what is more important than the type of work we do is our character.

Luke 16:10, a verse I am memorizing right now, says "One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much." It seems like what is more important is the amount of faithfulness, not the "littleness" or "muchness" of what we are doing. This shouldn't be a surprise, for He really is after my heart, not my productivity.

Sarah writes:

“Faithfulness is an undervalued trait in our society. We live in a culture so steeped in the attitude of ‘get it now while it’s hot’ that we have a hard time waiting for anything. Even many believers think loving God means having their problems solved and desires provided the moment they pray about them. But true faith remains steady through feast and famine alike. A faithful heart is one that does not change allegiances, because it is founded on trust much bigger than any ups or downs we may be experiencing.”

So whether you sit down again to tackle that homework assignment, that next project, that next meal, or that next dirty diaper, remember that God is present in this mundane moment. It is a gift to us to build something eternally more valuable---the godly character of faithfulness.

And that realization can make every moment an exciting moment as we remember that even the little things done for Him bless His heart. (Matt. 25:40)

Discussion questions:

What are some of the dull things you do each day? Ask the Lord to help you reframe your perspective and show you how you can do these things for His service and to His glory (Col. 3:17, 23). Then go and do it!