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Monday, May 27, 2013

The bridge between faithfulness and fullness

How many of us can truly say we are true to our word?  Not just some of the time, but each and every time?  I don't imagine it is many of us - for we all struggle with this at times - no matter how much we live in a manner which consistently follows through on what we say we will do.  In fact, most of the time, we struggle with the "promises" we make God more than we do the ones we make to our fellow man.  Today, we look at two inter-related character traits:  Faithfulness and Fullness.  I think we will begin to see how much these two are really intertwined - for learning to be faithful leads to quite a full life!

You are right and you do right, God; your decisions are right on target. You rightly instruct us in how to live ever faithful to you. My rivals nearly did me in, they persistently ignored your commandments. Your promise has been tested through and through, and I, your servant, love it dearly. I’m too young to be important, but I don’t forget what you tell me. Your righteousness is eternally right, your revelation is the only truth. Even though troubles came down on me hard, your commands always gave me delight. The way you tell me to live is always right; help me understand it so I can live to the fullest.  (Psalm 119:137-144 MSG)

I think we follow through on what is important to us.  If we hear our doctor tell us we will be dead in a year unless we make some dramatic changes in the way we eat and exercise, I daresay most of us would be on Weight Watchers and the treadmill by the end of the day!  Why?  We "value" our time on this earth, so we will make the necessary adjustments to our way of living because we want more than a year!  If the "thing" motivates us enough, we take whatever steps are required in order to realize the goal, don't we?  This is exactly where the "rub" comes at times in our lives.  We find certain "value" in some things because they have an immediate evidence of "return" - such as when we get our haircut in order to deal with our "dowdiness".  The haircut lifts our spirits and makes us feel better about our appearance.  It is immediate - at least within an hour!  When the "value" of something isn't immediate, we sometimes wane in our commitment to it because we don't see the "return" for quite some time.

Faithfulness is something God honors - as David put it, God is right and always does right - his decisions for our lives are right on target.  Then why do we struggle with his decisions so much?  I think it may be the "immediacy" of the "return" we are struggling with more than the decision!  Faithfulness is based on a certain steadiness of allegiance - commitment to a purpose, the ability to remain even when the going gets tough (or the results just don't seem to surface).  Faithfulness begins in listening.  What we are "willing" to hear often makes the determination of heart much easier.  When we "hear" the doctor with both our mind and heart, we are moved to action.  If we just hear it as a "suggestion" of change, we might just linger in our unhealthy lifestyle a little longer.  David says God rightly instructs us on HOW to live faithful lives.  Any good teacher will confirm that a student only learns when he takes what he hears and puts it into action.  This is the "bridge" between knowledge and learning.  We can possess knowledge, but be devoid of learning.  God's desire is for the "bridge" to be made.

Why is it we can stand on God's promises?  Isn't it because they have been tested and they stand true?  Then why do we struggle with them so much?  For example, Matthew 6:33 tells us one of God's promises to us is to be anxious for nothing - to seek first his purposes - and then we will have all our needs met (maybe not all our "wants", but definitely all our "needs").  Yet how many times do we worry over where we will find the money to pay the next bill, what we will do when we lose our jobs, or the like?  There are even "smaller" worries we take into our lives each and every day - not because we have no resource to find them met, but because we aren't making this knowledge - learning bridge.  We have the knowledge of the promise - we just don't have the "connecting" bridge which makes it a fact in our hearts!

Faithfulness if directly linked to fullness.  When we have this "connection" between "hearing" and "doing", there is a certain "fullness" which is created in the deep places of our lives.  Fullness is defined as containing all that can be held.  The amazing thing about God is his ability to expand our capacity!  When we think we have come to the place of holding all which can be held, he gives us more capacity!  Not capacity for "stuff", but capacity for him!  Maybe this is where we find our struggle with faithfulness - in seeking "stuff" instead of him.  We "want", but our "want" is sometimes for stuff which limits our capacity for being filled!  I think it can be said - capacity is directly linked to our willingness to be emptied.  David puts it well:  "The way you tell me to live is always right."  Look at what he says next:  "Help me understand it..."

There is nothing God loves more than to hear us ask for his help with understanding his ways in our lives.  I don't think he ever leaves us hanging when we do.  In fact, he often begins to "piece together" the knowledge we possess until they begin to become "learned".  In so doing, he is "piecing together" the very bridge which will become our lifeline in times of need.  The "piecing together" process may seem a little tedious at times in our lives - seeming to not show immediate evidence of the "bridge", but be assured of this - no bridge is built without a good master plan.  Every piece fits because their is a plan for it.  We want a bridge - no matter how well constructed.  God wants it to endure!  So, in order to endure, sometimes there is a "clearing process" in order to lay the foundations of endurance.  Empty vessels are God's choicest vessels, for it is the empty ones he can fill!  Just sayin!