Christian Living

How to Be Faithful

Sorry guys! I know it’s been a while. We’ve been fighting through more car and computer problems. I feel like it’s the story of my life lately! Anyway, computer availability has been spotty, but hopefully we have a solution now at least for e-mail and blogging. This week I’ve been thinking a lot about faithfulness. Probably because I’ve been tired and in pain a fair bit which has slowed my activity level. For a long time, I thought faithfulness was about how I acted, what I did. Having a chronic illness that occasionally brings my life to a screeching halt has forced me to reexamine that belief.

So what is faithfulness?

The definition I wrote down last week was “living each moment according to faith’s perspective.” It’s being full of faith in a tangible way. I’m reminded of James 2:18–“Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. ”

There’s kind of two ends of the spectrum we can fall prey to: thinking about faithfulness and acting faithful without faith. Thinking about faithfulness is when we work on having faith in our minds. It’s not true faith though unless it changes the way we live. It’s like identifying a tree by its fruit–someone can tell you all day long that it’s an apple tree, but if it bears cherries, they’re wrong.

Acting faithful without faith is what Jesus called the Pharisees on. They went through the motions of faithfulness without having the substance behind it. There wasn’t love for other or God motivating them–it was all about the outward obedience.

Faith is somewhere in the middle–it’s having the conviction and acting it out. It’s believing that God’s perspective on life is correct, that when He says something, it’s true. With our car and computer issues, it means believing that God really will provide abundantly–regardless of how I feel about the situation or how it appears to me.

So faithfulness is something we can all do even when things are hard or we’re sick or… you get the point. We can all ask God to give us His perspective on things and then act in accordance with that. We can choose to have joy and not to worry. It’s not easy, but, through the power of the Holy Spirit, it’s possible.

What does faithfulness look like in your life?

Blog_ How to Be Faithful

 

Literature

Bookshelf Tour-A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I feel like I should probably just make a blanket statement that the vast majority of the books on my bookshelf are ones that I adore. I’ll try to keep the raptures to a minimum though.

A Little Princess was the first chapter book that I ever read by myself (at least that I remember), and I still love it. Not only is the writing brilliant, but the themes are amazing.

If you’re not familiar with the book, it tells the story of Sara Crewe. Her mother dies at a young age, so she’s raised by her father in India. He’s a captain in the British army. At age seven, he takes her to a boarding in school in England–Miss Minchin’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies, run by Miss Minchin and her sister, Miss Amelia. She’s the star pupil there–being a girl who loves to learn and being an heiress–so Miss Minchin treats her well. Sara befriends a couple of the school outcasts, including the school maid. She has quite an imagination, so she makes up stories which she then tells to the other pupils. She also uses her imagination to make history come alive for Ermengarde, one of the outcasts that she is friends with. She also uses her imagination to pretend that she’s a princess, and she tries to act like she believes a good princess would. Things are good for her–other than the fact that she desperately misses her father.

And then one day everything falls apart. Her father’s best friend convinced him to invest in diamond mines and then ran away–leaving her father penniless. Her father had been sick at the time and the news was the final blow. He dies, believing that he and his darling daughter are ruined.

When Miss Minchin hears the news, she’s furious. She’s never particularly liked Sara for various reasons and has made a significant outlay of cash for Sara’s special maid and Sara’s birthday party, etc., etc. So, she responds by giving Sara the “kindness” of making her a maid. She takes everything Sara owns other than a single outfit and the doll her father bought her to try to pay off some of her debts. She moves Sara into the attic where there’s no heat. Sara is worked to the bone and miserable and hungry most of the time.

Sara responds by using her imagination to pretend that she’s a prisoner in the Bastille or other similar situations. Throughout it all, she continues to try to treat others like she’s a princess. For instance, one day when she’s starving, she finds a fourpenny. She goes into a bakery to buy herself something to eat (six buns), but instead of eating all of them, she gives five of them away to a beggar girl who appears to be hungrier than her because every good princess should give largesse to the populace.

In the end, it turns out that the diamond mines weren’t a failure, and Sara is given someone to love and be loved by and returned to her former richness. But she’s been tested and tried.

I love how this story talks about perspective. Sara is able to turn the most awful circumstances into an adventure merely because she chooses that perspective. It’s a lesson that I have tried to apply to my own life since I read this book. We all have a choice. We can choose if we’re going to be kind to others or not. We can choose to sacrifice for others or not. It’s all based on what kind of people we want to be and how we see our circumstances. Because Sara wanted to be like a princess, she chooses to be kind and sacrificial even when her circumstances are brutal.

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A Good Lens

Glasses are a pretty amazing thing. Being able to see is pretty amazing. My sweet darling daughter has strabismus. When she was 3 my husband and I had both noticed that she seemed to have trouble focusing. Through an incredibly providential set of “coincidences” we were led to the perfect eye doctor. We’d already been told by another doctor that it was something she would just grow out of, so I literally almost passed out when our current eye doctor told us she’d been seeing double her whole life and that she needed immediate surgery to correct the problem. And so, shortly after her 4th birthday, she had eye surgery on both her eyes. The difference was amazing. She had been able to focus on things up close well enough, which is why she would come up with the correct number of things when counting if they were up close and twice as many when they were far away. She still runs into things occasionally, simply because even 4 years later, she still has some body awareness issues, and she still has regular eye exercises she does. It’s a beautiful thing to see how much of a difference fixing her eye sight has made for her though.

I’ve been thinking about that lately–partly because we recently had some of the same eye issues re-dealt with through CST and partly because my own perspective on life has been wildly vacillating. Some days I can look at the events of the past year and see that God has been taking care of and be able to trust that He has a plan for our future. Other days I can’t understand why we’ve had to deal with all this craziness. I can’t tell you how sick and tired I am of being sick and tired.

This week I shared a set of circumstances with two of my closest advisors and their responses were totally different because of their own personalities and life experiences. And it made me think about how I view those particular circumstances. Am I seeing them as an opportunity for freedom or something to grieve over or something to get bitter over?

And this morning in my Esther study, this quote from Beth Moore stuck out: “Esther shows that ordinary events are never coincidental in the lives of God’s people.” It reminded me that the lens I need is God’s character. He is sovereign. He is love. He is always working out my best. That’s where meaning and purpose and safety and peace and joy all come from. Not from looking at my circumstances. Not from trying to muster myself into a good frame of mind. Not from having circumstances that are “happy.”

A good lens comes from just sitting in God’s presence and letting Him remind me who He is and who I am.

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Thorns and More

The past couple weeks I’ve been relapsing up and back down the wazoo (health-wise)… and consequently doing a lot of escaping into fiction or struggling just to get through daily tasks. It’s been a rough time.  And in the midst of all the pain and turmoil, I’ve been meditating on perspective. Here’s the view from my back deck.

Quite often, when I look at my life, this is all I see–the thorns. I complain about all the difficulties, the exhaustion, the hard work, etc., etc. And then, every so often, God reminds me that this isn’t the whole picture. If I looked around, maybe I would see something like this.

This is also from my back deck. All my lovely thorns come with something amazing. God allows difficult times because they can flower into something beautiful, and when I take the time to examine my surroundings, I can see glimmers of the amazing all around.

Perspective… a frame for everything we experience… a choice to see something a certain way. In my mind, perspective is like a habit. So rather than wearing down a path to view my thorns by complaining and focusing on the negative, I’m trying to discipline myself to see God’s grace at work in my life. My roses are things like having a wonderful husband, children I delight in, a place to live that’s perfect for my health issues, a calling that makes me more myself, a past that makes me desperate for God, an unwillingness to be content with the mediocre, friends who listen… the list goes on and on. How about you?

God, open our eyes to see You at work. Rip aside the veil of our apparently mundane trivialities and show us Your hand and Your grace. Expose the roses in our lives, God. Give us a hunger for more than just surviving the thorns. Perfect us through those thorns. I love You! In Jesus’ Name, amen.