"But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (NIV)
A few weekends ago I had the chance to share at the GateWay Women's Retreat. The theme for the weekend was the Fruit of the Spirit. Lisa, the women's coordinator, had been praying for the women that God would have share that weekend. I was honored to be one of the those women and I would have an opportunity to share about faithfulness.
I spent time in prayer, and conversation with Jason about what I would share. This wasn't going to be about what happened to me, but rather about being faithful when the unthinkable happens.
What does it mean to be faithful?
The dictionary defines faithfulness as:
* full of faith
* steadfast in affection or allegiance: loyal
* firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty: conscientious
* given with strong assurance: binding
* true to the facts, to a standard, or to an original
* worthy of trust or belief: reliable (online)
* consistent with truth
I found this quote on a blog:
"Faithfulness includes continuing in the tasks that God has given us to complete. To be faithful is to be consistent and reliable in our responsibilities. To be continuous despite the trials and problems that may be thrown at us."
Some may wonder how is it possible to be faithful to or have faith in a God that would allow the loss of a baby? This was the unthinkable situation we faced. We even had a social worker in the hospital tell us that this tragedy would probably shake our faith!! I sat in that hospital hours after finding out my daughter was gone and all I was thinking: I need this faith in God more than ever!!!! We didn't sit there in fits of rage (like mentioned in Galatians 5:19), but instead found ourselves finding rest in the faithfulness we had that God was carrying us. We had peace. We genuinely felt that getting angry was not going to get us anywhere and we knew this understanding could only come from our relationship with God.
"Don't panic. I'm with you. There's no need to fear for I'm your God. I'll give you strength. I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.
Isaiah 41:10 The Message
Fruits of the Spirit we didn't even realize were a part of life were now put into practice.
I've already shared many of the examples of God's faithfulness through losing Madelynn. Another example was my experience of joining a women's Bible study for the first time this summer. The study was from the Deeper Still events by Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer, and Beth Moore. The themes were Faithful, Abundant, and True. The first two weeks were spent studying faithfulness. Imagine that, faithfulness. Kay Arthur spoke of being faithful.
Hebrews 11:1 The Message
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see.
("Jesus, you're my firm foundation. I know I can stand secure." For those of you who might be singing the song in your head right now!)
In this study she shares that one of the key points is being in His word. "Rest of faith is uniting the word with faith and living in it at that very moment. It's action of faith for today - for this moment, this situation."
"When you believe - put action to His truth - you enter His rest. And that enables you to inherit His promises, to receive the full benefit of faith, and to please God."
Much of what she said involved spending time in scripture and knowing His word. I thought I didn't know scripture. Honestly, I don't have quiet times or do devotions and hadn't done a true Bible study in years. I could tell you what themes were in the Bible, but not where to find them. I could tell you about how to be a good person and follow the basic principles of a Christ follower. I did learn through this that my many years being involved in music ministry and being married to Jason has taught me God's word. Here's just a brief list of verses I sang in the form of songs in the last six months:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels nor principalities. Nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The song version
Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you.
2 Corinthians 8-9, 16
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed...Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
These are just examples of God's word that I rested in during the grief process. But it's not enough to know the songs. I find myself having a desire to get into His word and find what else He has for me. At the beginning of summer I found myself in an extreme phase of anxiety and worry about many things. Jason put together a list of verses for the two of us to memorize. This list is taped to my bathroom mirror. I can honestly say that in reading those verses over and over again, the anxiety and worry is gone. I can rest in his word.
Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Philippians 4:7 The Message
And really, can't we replace the word worry with any word that describe what is burdening us right now!
It's not always easy, there are many days of sadness and grief, but there are also days of joy in what God is teaching us. Madelynn has blessed our lives and many others. I am forever changed and want my life to be pleasing to God. I choose to be faithful to Him as He has been faithful to me!
Have you experienced an unthinkable and knew God was carrying you through it even when it seemed like it was impossible?
Which of fruit of the spirit do you feel you want to be better at putting into practice in your own life?
Thank you so much for letting me share with you about God's faithfulness!!
Hoping that today you find His blessings for you!!