As our sin affects others, so does grace-filled obedience. I reap the benefits of others' faithfulness very day. Of seeds sown long ago. Lost in the drama sometimes, are the quiet faithful ones whose love of Christ is lived out daily in unspectacular ways. Bearing the fruit of the Spirit. And that actually is quite spectacular.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26
Not the hypocrites, with puffed out chests, doling out law and judgement from fists of pride. Or doing things for selfish gain. Yeah, I see them, too. But those who follow the most important commandments and lead by example day after day, year after year. They are Joshua, living "long obedience in the same direction" (credit to Kari Way, who led a heart-opening walk through that book).
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40
They live disciplined lives in small things and large.
Not seeking attention or glory or possession.
Jesus' lordship is evident in watching these beauties over years and years. The tendency for comparison used to leave me in a pile of defeat. But, the gracious example so many of my friends have been has turned into hope. Hope of being a steady. Not just a quick and dirty dressing up in the guise of one.
The truly faithful, whom I thought I would surely scare away, have been the most enduring lovers. God's word is in their hearts and on their tongues. Truth comes from their lips with gentle kisses. All the small things that root faith deep slowly make for strength to grab a hold of in times of trouble.
They cry real tears.
They do not stir up strife.
Their words and actions line up.
When I'm ready to throw in the towel because I've not reached a place I think I should be already, I remember them. As with enduring friendship, so this faith is grown over years. Consistently choosing to honor God. Giving without noise or fanfare. Those I know will actually pray when asked. Who'll speak honestly about their hearts and struggles. Gossip doesn't leave their lips, not out of rules, but out of love. They are safe and we need safe.
Well done, good and faithful servants.
There is abundant grace for the prodigal and much of it comes from these priceless ones. Putting an arm around my shoulder to walk me home.
God, build me the faith of a steady with patience, one day at a time.
See also Rock Steady from #write31days
Some years simply need to settle into the soil like so much fertilizer.
Hibernation for the winter sounds pretty good. But 'tis the season for reflection, right?
The nuclear dust has settled. God has given good gifts. And continues to. I just wish it had been someone else's mess of a manure pile.
A quiet depression has come in holding hands with resentment. No cause. No event. Just regret turning in on itself. I have let it sit too long without remembering God's promises. As if saying, "thank you for this long list of miraculous changes, but..."
Perhaps my expectations have returned. Of being a good mother. Being a wife. Being a sister, daughter, friend. With what I think that means. Being useful. And my patience is no longer my strong suit. That feels strange. Christmas is upon us and I can't seem to pull it all together, yet. The drive is gone and that's a little frightening.
So, patience, patience, patience, lest I become stuck.
It's been a year unlike any other.
Facing demons in the mirror. The absolute horror of my selfish heart. Imploding under all my expectations. The kicking and screaming of a spiritual temper tantrum. A lifetime of bottled-up rage exploding on those around me. Fear. A lot of fear. A letting go of all control and learning to trust God with all the uncertainty, even as He pried my hands off, finger by finger. Fighting death. Fighting destruction. Fighting to even want to fight. All of the miracles along the way. The unexpected grace from friends who demonstrate Christ's love without blinking. The balm of fears unrealized. Renewed relationships once thought unretrievable. Learning to practice loving enemies. (let's be real.... still working on that one, folks) Watching the new creation that my hubs has become. Wrestling with what that means about my own spiritual walk.
And a lot of fumbling.
Knowing I've chosen to give things up for a purpose, I still sit in feeling useless.
I fight resentment. I still feel out of place. Wibbly-wobbly.
Here's me, blogging all the things I've tried so long to hide
"Ask her, she has nothing better to do.....," is what I hear. Silly and childish, I know.
Funny how easy it is to slip back into this mindset. To let that depression wrap around my heart like a warm blanket, until it chokes the truth out.
So, back to remembering what is true.
God, will I ever get it?
Asking, because I already know the promise in the answer.
"As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience." Luke 8:15
Patience as the rain finally falls. The soil is stinkin', but has been readied.
Maybe I just need to go see Star Wars again.
Or listen to a little Queen.
Oh, the brave, brave souls who answer to "friend."
Authentic friends have mad grit.
Friends whose hearts draw from a well of trust in the Lord.
They are the courageous ones, who ask tough questions. Because they really want to know your heart.
And share a piece of theirs.
Confronting and admonishing with lips of kindness.
Lips that honor God.
Chancing a defensive lashing. Or great sorrow to wade through. Or simple awkwardness.
Speaking truth in love. Truly from love.
Not to pass morsels around for the hens to gobble up.
Not to bolster presuppositions.
But to love and guide with the cross as their compass.
Lips that are sealed with the sweetness of discretion.
They are the risk-takers, who stand in the sun with a broken one. Under all that heat.
No fair-weather, here.
Not hiding nor retreating. Risking discomfort in order to give comfort.
Embracing in the open. And all those knee-aching prayers.
Avid protectors and lifters of the soul.
Facing fatigue, they grab ahold of the weight you carry and quietly walk the road in togetherness. And trudge on.
No gain to be had. No networking to be checked off. Their love is sacrifice. It's sweat and pain and relief.
Awash in Christ's love, they do not cower. Sharing a generous portion of grace from their plate.
Fed by a steady hope.
They are the brave ones who risk their hearts with humility in friendship.
Bless you, with all your guts.
You gift this worm a million ways.
Keep on, valiant teachers.