Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Contemplating Steadfastness.

I am a bit behind on life. It's pretty understandable, after purging many of our belongings, living in a hotel for six weeks, then moving back in and setting up the home for guests, homeschooling, and more. The last week and a half have been filled with cardboard, screws, cleaning, organizing, building furniture, and more. It's been wonderful to be back home but I am feeling a bit cautious about my daily routines.

I would never claim to be very self-disciplined, so I compensate by forcing things upon myself in certain ways, so I know I will not succumb to the temptation to do less than I wish I could do. In case that makes zero sense, here's an example.

I am really athletic, but I don't always like the idea of exercising. I mostly enjoy it while I am doing it, but getting started is SO hard. So I do things like signing up for CrossFit. This also solves my problem of trying to get up early in the morning, at least on the days I attend. If I have nowhere to be each day, nothing specific to be done at a certain time, I struggle to get out of bed, or to even set my alarm. So needing to be at CrossFit at a certain time in the morning takes care of both of these problems for me.

This year will require either a lot of self-discipline or a lot of discipline-inducing activities. I'm a bit nervous about it, but this morning God gave me sweet examples of what it means to be steadfast and consistent in my work and in my life.

I spent some time reading from Exodus this morning and then opened up Rosaria Butterfield's book The Gospel Come with a House Key. The chapter I read was about life with her mother as an adult (in which I cried WAY too much) and she brought up this verse.

"And in all things let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, 
lacking nothing."   James 1:4

The patience it takes to live while waiting for God's promises to be fulfilled is enormous. The confidence I need to have in God's plan, in order to continue working and giving and serving and still LOVE well, is far beyond my own abilities. But God makes us fulfilled and complete by persevering in that work. 

The verse stuck with me and made me sit and think for a while. I decided to finally put a verse on my lettering board, as it has been hanging on the wall blank since we moved back in. As I was arranging all the letters (and realizing there would be no room for the reference) I had a hard time finding all the specific letters I needed. This verse has a lot of F's for how many I have in total, and I struggled to find them in my assortment of letters sprawled across the table. 

As I got to the end, I was still missing two letters. I decided I would simply start to put the letters back into the bag and grab them one by one. It only took a few seconds before I found the first letter I needed. As I continued to put just one letter or two in the bag at a time, I noticed a letter clinging to the inside of the bag. At first, I kept putting more letters in, then I took another look and saw that it was the very letter I was looking for. Immediately, I felt God's goodness in talking to me through this simple task. 

To be steadfast in my life, I may often need to simply start the small work, and do it over and over again. Putting the letters in one by one, despite not knowing when the end result would come to pass, is what enabled me to find the letters I was looking for. Had I not just started the work, it might have taken me even longer to achieve my goal. 

To be steadfast in my life, I need to be unhurried and attentive. If I had just grabbed handfuls and handfuls of letters without paying much attention, I may have missed the letter I needed, stuck in the bag.

In all the things God is doing in my life, my steadfastness will make that work more effective. It will complete God's work in me, not hinder it. Being steadfast is a gift. Bearing under the weight of time, longstanding effort, and the daily struggle of being a human is working in us to make us what God desires us to be. 

This comes as such a relief to me this morning. God's work is not hindered by the length of time or number of times I have to work on something. My willingness to endure is actually a help to the process. If I am grumpy and frustrated at the length of time God's work takes, it is a hindrance to that work! 

The more patient and willing I am to endure the long work God is doing in my life, the more complete I will be be, the more perfected I will end up. 

I can do my work happy today. I can breathe deep, relax, and just enjoy the interruptions, the road-blocks, the tasks that take longer than I could have imagined. Yes, you read that right: I can enjoy them! They are perfecting me, sanctifying me, making me complete. And that's the goal right? To be complete in Christ. 

Lately, I cannot help but see how a willing spirit is the key to making the most of almost anything in life. Willing to navigate hardship, willing to do the menial job, willing to sacrifice self for the well-being of others... it makes or breaks jobs, relationships, and more. So if I am going to focus on anything as the summer break is coming to a close, it's on my level of willingness. 

I want to be willing to walk through whatever it is God ordains or allows. I want to be willing to navigate whatever challenges arise during my pursuit of the endeavors He has placed on my heart. I desire to willingly work for the good of those around me, without bitterness, and without regret. A willing vessel is what God uses, and what He desires. Being steadfast is a matter of being willing to endure. And I want to be willing. 

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  1. I want to be willing too. Praying. Nice article, thanks.

    1. Oops, sorry for the late reply! I REALLY hope you know how much all your support and prayers mean to me. Thank you :)