In Stormy Political Seas, These are Words To Remember about Faithfulness

As far as colors go, gray might just be one of my favorites. I’m sitting on a gray couch beside gray arm chairs resting their feet on a gray area rug. I painted the clock on the wall gray. And, how’s this for timing, I’m wearing a gray t-shirt this very moment.

But when it comes to life decisions, ethics and even Theology, gray is a hard color for me to swallow. In the university setting, during an ethics discussion, I didn’t like it when I felt like we were in gray territory and there wasn’t a clear black or white solution at the end of an hour’s discussion.

In the years that have followed, I’ve since come to have a different understanding of gray areas. Gray has become a new color for me, so to speak.

Earlier this year, many of you might’ve read this post I shared about my word for the year: Faithful. This word was like a tiny whisper to my soul from the Lord, just nudging me to keep my ears open and my heart listening to what He had to say.

This year, I’ve come to realize faithfulness and perfection are not the same thing, and I don’t have to be so hard on myself.

foodbaby

I’ve learned that other people might not know what faithful looks like for me — so I don’t need to fear judgment or outside opinions. It’s the Lord first and foremost I’m called to be faithful to.

And this bullet shot out of a speeding train pierced my heart through while I was writing the Swim Your Own Race series a few years ago:

Your Race is in Your Lane.

Translation?

Your faithfulness and my faithfulness are going to look completely different. But that does not mean we are not both being faithful.

I have friends who have never taken their kids trick-or-treating because they feel it’s wrong to celebrate Halloween. I have friends who make a big deal out of Halloween and see it as an opportunity to connect with their neighbors.

Will I give the one side a high five and tell the other side they’re ridiculous? Obviously not.

Faithfulness looks different for different people, because God has different plans for each of us.

Am I saying there aren’t cold hard black and white areas where I think there’s no room for discussion? Of course not. We had some friends over for dinner this weekend and were discussing their denomination’s stance on a particular faith issue. The husband of this sweet couple commented, “We try to speak where the Bible speaks, and remain silent where the Bible is silent.”

That’s wisdom worth taking notes on.

Thousands of years ago, do you know how Alexander the Great became the ruler of one of the largest and most expansive empires of all time? War. Battle. Great strategy and Physical Domination.

How did Genghis Khan found the longest contiguous empire in history? Think the Mongols took a vote? Think again. Invasion and domination.

In Ancient Greece, Athens was known as a city where people had voices, and political decisions were discussed in an open marketplace. Down the road in Sparta, strength and physical domination were the most highly valued prize. But the Athenians were on to something we still believe today: the idea that an uneducated mass of people can be very easily ruled over, even bullied, truly. But educated individuals, given the right to vote, can elect officials that will represent their ideals well. It was a novel idea in those days.

Today, my fellow Americans and I have the privilege of casting a vote to elect the officials that will rule over us. I think about a very dear friend back in Zimbabwe, where elections aren’t really true, honest or real. My Hero Hubs is a resident alien, (and a South African Cowboy Gentleman) he watches from the sidelines. We mustn’t take it for granted: the democracy we call a “unalienable right” is still in many places a far off dream, a hoped-for-someday privilege.

If we do have the privilege, we should not take it lightly.

flags

Paul once wrote these words to the Corinthians to encourage them in their generosity:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. {II Cor. 9:6-7}

Like the Corinthians in their decision to give, before we make a decision and fill in a bubble on a ballot, we should wrestle in our hearts before God. This soul-searching is the most important part of the process. The Corinthians would have had to consider whether they were being greedy or trusting God for their provision, perhaps how much they were able to give and still meet other commitments. Similarly, we must wrestle with what we value most — are there certain political ideals we want to hold most firmly to? Certain character traits we feel are the most important? Are we valuing the right things most?

At the end of the day, some Corinthians would’ve given one amount, and others would’ve given another. But those different amounts didn’t mean one was being faithful and another was not. Each decided in his own heart and hopefully gave as the Lord led him.

I’m sure I don’t have to spell out the parallel to you — based on what’s on our hearts, what ideals we value, what character traits we are looking for, we will perhaps come to different conclusions about how to appropriately mark a ballot on November 8th.

But there is a beautiful conclusion for all of this:

We can feel differently about issues and still each be faithful to what God is speaking to our hearts. God might lead one friend to choose not to trick-or-treat at Halloween, and another to be out in the community with her kids in costume.

We can all do different things, and still be faithful to what God is leading us to do.

The most important part of the process is perhaps the wrestling. The drawing near to your Creator and doing your best to bare your soul and hope to live your days with a clean conscience before God, trusting that you listened to the Holy Spirit to the best of your ability.

As this political race comes to a close, remember that you are swimming your own race, and your race is in your lane. Faithfulness will look different for you than it will for the person to your right or your left.

Fix your eyes on Jesus, friend, love and respect your neighbors and their race in their lane, and just keep swimming your race with faithfulness.

xCC

 

Thoughts on New Shoes and Feeding on His Faithfulness

I mentioned the other day that we were at an end-of-the-fiscal-month-so-nobody-move-till-we-get-paid kind of moment for the past few days. (We get paid on the 25th.) I was also talking about “coincidences” a couple weeks ago and how things come together way too often in my life for me to chalk things up to Mr. Chance any longer. And this Monday I had another one of those experiences that, here it is Friday, I’m finally getting a chance to write down and tell you about. First let me share a Scripture to explain why I want to re-tell this:

Trust in the Lord and do good.
Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

That was Psalm 37:3-4. So. It was an end-of-the-fiscal-month-so-nobody-move-till-we-get-paid kind of day Monday. The Bear had decided he was too cool for Sunday school the day before — meaning he wasn’t cool with getting left with the other kids in the babysitting area. Hero Hubs decided to walk him around outside for a while during church, and he spent pretty much the whole service doing just that. By the time we got home, he had little blisters on his pwecious little toes, and it was obvious it was time for new shoes. He had worn out the ones he got for Christmas with all the car-riding! But like I said, it was an end-of-the-fiscal-month-so-nobody-move-till-we-get-paid kind of week. And we wouldn’t get paid till Thursday.

The issue was, if we didn’t buy the Bear a new pair of shoes, he couldn’t go outside and ride his car, because he drags his toes to brake, and he’ll come home with bloody feet. But if he can’t ride his car, he is as bummed as the day is long. And that thought made me really sad. Going outside and riding his car is like his moment of freedom — and the boy’s a little Scottish, you know, he needs his F-RRR-EEEDOM!

So we were in a bit of a dilemma. But not for long. As we were discussing what to do about the shoe issue, I just happened to look at this card a friend had sent us a few days before that I had on display on our counter. And I just happened to notice something I didn’t see before. She’d put a sheet of stickers inside the card for the Bear, and I suddenly just happened to see some writing behind the sticker sheet, even though I’d read the card at least a couple times already. I picked the card up, looked behind the sticker sheet, and there she’d written us another wee note, and included $50. (THANK YOU, MY FRIEND!!!)

$50 will buy plenty of shoes for Bear Bear in South Africa — his next ten+ pairs!

It gets even better. On our way to buy the shoes, we prayed that the Lord would help us find them at a good price. Our finances are tight, so we were planning to be careful and make good purchases and make that $50 go a long way! So we shopped around the mall for ages and ages to try to find shoes that were the right size (challenge #1) and that weren’t a ridiculous price (challenge #2). Finally, we arrived at a store called Ackermans which has really cute baby stuff. They had a ton of shoes on their “Giveaways” (meaning decent sales) rack and I started hunting. Eventually, I found these adorable sandals (pictured below!) marked R19.00. Yes, that is 19 South African Rand. And in case you don’t happen to know the current exchange rate, ZAR19 is like $2.56!! Or £1.73!!! Or €1.93!!!!

There were several other pairs of the exact same sandals on the rack. I looked through them, and they were all marked R79.00. It was obvious we just happened to find a mis-pricing, but we asked the guy who was labeling and putting things on the racks, and he checked and said, “19 Rand.” So we were able to buy the Bear a pair of sandals, and a pair of trainers, on sale for R59.00, with a ton of cash to spare!!!

The thing about feeding on the faithfulness of God is that He works in different ways at different times. Sometimes it’s a check in the mail. Sometimes it’s a shoe on sale. Sometimes your brother reads your blog post and deposits money in your bank account!! But the faithfulness I want to feed on — the thing I want to chew on and remember over and over again, is that God is good and that He has come through for us — in different ways at different moments — but every time. That means I can trust Him. That means I can be at peace about tomorrow. Because the God who comes through for me is already there.

So I just happened to take a moment to share this with you this morning. I hope you just happen to be encouraged by it, and perhaps to believe that more often than we think, things don’t just happen. 🙂 Has anything special just happened for you this week?

Without further ado… BearBear’s new shoes!!

Here’s The (Practical Application) Sermon in a Nutshell: We’ve been recording testimonies of God’s goodness and provision in a special little journal for a while. Although we haven’t been writing them down nearly as often as we should, it is really, really encouraging to open that journal up and feed on God’s faithfulness in moments where we need encouragement. Perhaps you can start writing down things you want to remember, so you can feed on that faithfulness, too!

A Feast is Always Waiting for You

Do you ever read a passage of Scripture you’ve read and thought about a dozen times before and suddenly ask yourself, “Well, yeah, but what does that really mean?” Just me? Well anyway, it happened again on Sunday and I was curious enough to start poking around...

The Beauty of Naming What Matters

What’s the state of affairs in your sock drawer these days? Are you a planner? A scheduler? An organizer much?  In order to stay on top of life while homeschooling four kiddos who also live in my house and call me “Mama” (and expect meals at regular intervals),...

Eight Words to Live by in 2020

You know what I need someone to tell me on pretty much a daily basis?  I suppose a lot of things. Like thanks for breakfast, and thanks for lunch and thanks for dinner, Mom. But also? I’ve been participating in a writer’s Mastermind group this year, and we...