This spring my husband and I celebrated fifteen years of marriage, and with that nearly fifteen years of ministry. There are many who have walked a much longer road and have much more wisdom to share, but I think fifteen years has been enough time to start to see the perspective of the rear view mirror. Through no planning on our part, we seem to be revisiting the places of our beginnings, like the Bible college where we met, the church we were interns at together, and the first place Chad pastored. It’s been so sweet to stand in those places and recall all that God has done and how faithful He has been to us. My throat tightens and my eyes start to burn with tears because God’s goodness is overwhelming. What a precious track record of faithfulness God has written for us: provisions for needs, hearts changed, sweet friendships, and yes, even painful trials and necessary reproofs.
These moments of getting lost in the faithfulness of God aren’t just nostalgic walks down memory lane, they are the fuel for worship and service. Amazing things happen when we are down-to-our-guts-sure of the faithfulness of God.
We tell our “faithful God stories.” Deuteronomy instructs us over and over, “do not forget…remember.” The Psalms are full of references to remembering what God has done and sharing the stories with others. Isaiah 63:7 says, “I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us…according to his compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.”
Don’t just mull over your stories of faithfulness in your heart; take it a step further. Write them down, tell them to a friend, and most of all, tell them to your children no matter what their age. Psalm 78:4 declares, “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” I’m blessed to be a third generation small town pastor’s wife, and I treasure not just my own stories of a faithful God, but the stories of my parents and grandparents. His faithfulness endures to all generations (Psalm 119:90), and God designed the faith of the next generation to be strengthened by God’s faithfulness to the last generation.
We can imagine the grace that will meet us in the future. We all can let our imagination of the horrible things that could happen in the future run wild. Women have more imagination for that than my boys do with their dress-up bin and their legos! But when we can see all the ways God has been faithful in the past we can imagine all the ways that He will not fail us in the future. We know it will be safe to trust because hasn’t He already, so many times, and in so many ways, met us with grace? “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). This is the question that always burns away the fear of tomorrow. God gave the life of His only Son, what exactly am I afraid He is going to withhold in the future? Use your sanctified imagination to wonder at the good God has in store for you.
We say “yes” to what God brings one more time. I’m convinced our own faithfulness is rooted in our belief in the faithfulness of God. When mountains seemingly unclimbable rise before our vision, the heart that believes, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” will take the first step and a million steps after that (I Thessalonians 5:24). I’ve had to repent of saying, “I just can’t _________ one more time.” Yes I can. And I can over and over through the coming years because I serve a faithful God who doesn’t grow weary and increases the power of the weak. You can’t be faithful to God five days from now or five years from now, but you can say yes to what God brings today and walk in faithfulness.
We refuse to shrink our vision of what God can do. The more God gets big in your vision and your gifts and abilities get small, you will be able to dream big and pray big and not let the current circumstances determine your perspective. You will pray with shameless audacity because you know anything less is an insult to the power of God. When we are grounded in the faithfulness of God we are able to say confidently, “God is able!”
The size of your ministry has nothing to do with the size of God’s work in people’s lives. It doesn’t matter how many generations the strongholds of sin goes back, or how unrelenting your church matriarch is, or how sin-scarred your community is, or how scary quiet and apathetic your congregation is, God is bigger and He is greater. That includes you and your husband’s ministry mess-ups and failures. Always God works in spite of us.
Firmly grounded faith in the faithfulness of God isn’t flashy. Most often it looks like just saying yes again and lots and lots of prayer. Someday, fifteen years is going to seem like a puppy to me. I hope I have laugh lines and I know I will have even more stories to tell of the faithfulness of God. Grace that is coming. Grace I can only imagine now.
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