I love Jesus and I love people. I write about what happens when dreams and reality collide. Because the best stories are the ones He writes.

To Be Faithful

To Be Faithful

Photo from Unsplash

Photo from Unsplash

Are you ready for 2019?

I don’t know about you but the days between Christmas and New Years tend to be filled with lots of disorientation over days and dates. These fuzzy hours are mostly spent planning for the future, cleaning up the holiday mess, purging “ all the things” and sugar bingeing the holiday treats before we go on a diet New Years Day (although this year my husband talked me into getting healthy the day after New Years so we can overindulge a little longer). 

Last night, my husband and I even enjoyed a quiet date night, making plans and lists.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be focused on what really matters in 2019.

Loving God. Loving people.

My friend talks often about asking God for a “word of the year.”

To be honest, I’m a skeptic by nature, and I sometimes question the idea of having a theme for a whole year.

But God reminds me to humble myself sometimes and just ask him.

Last year, I went ahead and asked God for a word and I felt pretty strongly he answered me with one: “Discipline.”

The accuracy of that word for 2018 is a whole blog post waiting to happen.

But for 2019, the word, “Faithful” came to my mind a few weeks ago.

“But is that really from you, God? Or did I just think it on my own?”

Do you ever question something that you believe God put on your heart but you just aren’t quite sure if it’s really from him?

I’m guessing I can’t be the only person prone to questioning these types of things.

Oh me of little faith. 

A few days ago, I went to my naturopath doctor. He’s a very kind man but the truth is, I sometimes have a hard time trusting him. And he knows I’m slow at taking his medicinal recommendations seriously even though he firmly believes if I listened to him, I would feel better. He said to me, “It’s okay, you’re a slow mover. I’m not going to force you to take a new medication. We’ll do what you’re comfortable with and move forward at your pace.” And you know what? God is often like that with us. He doesn’t force us into anything. But he loves us and is gentle with our doubts and fears even when listening to him would make us feel better.

But sometimes, because he’s God? He gifts us with things and if our eyes are open, we’ll pause long enough to receive them and recognize where they came from.

And on Christmas Eve, I believe God gave me three gifts to prepare me for 2019. He didn’t have to and I didn’t earn anything, but you know what? I like to think he just gives because he enjoys giving good gifts to his children and he’s awesome like that.  (Checkout Matthew 7 to read further about what Jesus had to say about gifts.)

The first gift was a song. I woke up that morning with a song in my head that I haven’t sung for a long time. I mean a LONG TIME.

Because it was over twenty years ago, when an eager group of fresh-faced, baggy-jeans wearing teenagers, gathered together and performed in churches on their way down to a Colorado youth conference. And one of the songs we performed was called “The Vow.” And the chorus lyrics go like this:

“Right here, right now in the midst of the crowd, I stand alone and I make my vow. Whatever it takes, I will be faithful.

Right here, right now, let there be no doubt. With every whisper and every shout, let the whole world know I will be faithful. This is my vow.”

It was just like someone had turned the radio on and I was hearing the song again. I found it on Youtube and listened a few times. All I could do was smile. “What the heck, God! I didn’t even know that song was about being faithful. I can’t even think of the last time I thought of it.”

My second gift came shortly after that when on Christmas Eve morning, Brian and I finished reading the Bible.

A few years ago, I felt some conviction. I knew lots of verses by heart and Sunday School Bible stories are practically burned on my brain. But how much was I missing because I hadn’t read the entire Bible? How could I tell others to look up verses for themselves if I didn’t take the time to read it myself? So Brian and I began a journey.

It turned out to be a long, rocky journey.

We had good intentions but there were bad days. We got the television out of our bedroom but then we replaced it with Netflix. There were plenty of days we skipped or missed. There were some days I was more asleep than awake when Brian read to me. There were many mornings we reached for our smart phones before anything else.

Trust me, ‘aint nobody a saint here.

But we made a decision to be faithful.

And for the past few years, we have been reading the Bible and praying together most mornings. And just that simple act has made a huge difference in our home and marriage.

I will have to blog sometime about the lessons we’ve learned from reading through the Bible. But all I can say now, is we’re hooked. And even though we finished reading, in so many ways, we’re just getting started in our journey of reading the Word of God together. The more we spend time reading truth together, the less we desire other things and now we’ve just scratched the surface, we want to go deeper!

So that was a gift.

And then, a book I ordered months ago unexpectedly arrived on our doorstep. The 2019 Christian Writers Market Guide came in the mail. Its tagline is “Your Comprehensive Resource for Getting Published.”

I’ve been pondering these gifts- the song, the book, the celebration of a journey, and the other day on the way home, my mom and I listened to a short talk about what else? Faithfulness. 

You see, sometimes, if I’m honest, I don’t want to be faithful without knowing what the outcome will be.

I feel it especially this year, I want to know:

Will my book get published?

Will I win a trip to a writers conference?

Will a magazine want my article?

Will I find an agent?

Will I have more than 50 subscribers to my email list?

Will I ever financially help my family as a writer?

Will our kids be healthy?

Will I be happy?

Will I? Will I? Will I?

I get a little self-focused naturally.

But you see, God doesn’t promise me any of that stuff in exchange for faithfulness.

In fact, he seems a lot more concerned about his glory and plans. I can even change my questions to sound more like spiritual negotiations. “Hey God, if you give me a book deal, you’ll be glorified. I promise!” Or, “If my kids are healthy, they’ll grow up to be incredible ambassadors for you!”

And he gently reminds me, “Janell. I got this.  Do you trust me?  Because I promise what I have to offer is better than anything. Will you allow me to lead your heart? Will you be faithful?” 

Do I believe him? Because if I do, every “no,” every “not now,” every “yes,” takes me on a journey that he has planned. And his plans are the best. His ways are not my ways. His plans are not my plans. But he can be trusted.

Our job is not to figure out the outcome but to choose whom we will serve regardless of the outcome because we trust him. 

So the answer is yes, Jesus.

“Right here, right now. In the midst of the crowd, I stand alone and I make my vow. Whatever it takes, I will be faithful.”

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