Every Tuesday evening for the past five weeks, I leave a warm, cozy house to brave the cold, blustery weather and assist my H in a course called Focused Living. We’re helping thirty people answer the questions, “What has God been doing in your life? And do you have the courage to join him in that work?”
Over the years, we’ve helped countless people sort their history through a mapping exercise that clarifies purpose, vision, and core values. Those evenings are not light-hearted, but they are life-giving.
My role in the room is to prayerfully observe, practice discernment, and offer help to those who seem stuck. And I am also the official coffee pot emptier and gatherer of dirty disposable cups. But together, H and I assess how God is moving among the group, determining the optimum pathway forward into new material.
There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing ah-ha moments on faces, hear transformation expressed from the heart, and witness courage to live in the world as a passionate Christ-follower. Through the process, I’ve come to this conclusion: We are terrible at waiting. But waiting does some good work within us.
While you are waiting, what has God been doing in your life? While you wait, will you have the courage to join him that work?
The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Exodus 34:6
The Hebrew word for faithfulness is emet, which literally translates as truth. John Mark Comer writes, “It’s actually connected to the word amen. Usually people say amen when a preacher says something that rings true deep in their bones. But emet can also be translated as trustworthy. It has the idea of reliability.”
Map your unique life journey—people, events, and circumstances that have shaped your life negatively and positively—and you will come to the same conclusion with 100% of the people.
God is faithful.
He is trustworthy.
He nearness is reliable, even when he seems absent in your difficulties.
Some of you have been waiting for the evidence of His faithfulness for weeks, months, even years. Your lengthy waiting period has made you a doubter. And present circumstances seem to contradict his character and nature. You wonder if what you believe is Truth or fable.
Life can be hard and amid uncertainties we are prone toward forgetfulness. We forget that God is loyal to the bitter end. He will never abandon you.
How Faithful Are You?
We live in a drive-thru, microwave, instant world. Diets, blogs, beauty products, apps, technology, church, and friendships are implemented as quickly as we abandon, unfollow, dispose, delete, replace, and remove ourselves from obligation when the results don’t live up to lofty expectations.
It takes 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to be really good at something. That’s ten years!
Years of writing blog posts when your growth stalls in year three.
Years of painting when nothing sells for months.
Years of playing the violin when the first sounds cause people to cower and cover their ears.
Years of showing up when the audience doesn’t grow alongside influence.
Moses tended sheep for forty years before God’s assignment of leading the Israelites out of captivity.
I guess that means people are four times harder to lead than sheep!
Forty years of wandering in the wilderness before the Israelites realized the Promises of God. And Sarah was ninety when she gave birth to Isaac, her first child.
God is looking for people who are willing to persevere in trust; faithfulness even when things aren’t going well.
What are you longing for that God is desiring to fulfill?
Why Waiting is Good for You
When I was fresh out of college, if you would’ve told me that I wouldn’t be good at something unless I practiced it faithfully for ten years, I would’ve felt deflated, disappointed, and defeated before landing a new job. Surveying the map that is my life, I can see the wealth of waiting on God when I look back.
I’ve been parenting my kids for nearly two decades and still learning how to be their mother.
Eight years ago, when I started blogging, if you would’ve told me it would take this long to determine voice and unique contribution, I might’ve chosen to keep writing features. And missed out on the riches of realizing God’s unique vision—layered, rich, abundant, and nothing I could’ve dreamed up on my own.
Now, whenever I feel like my work, dreams, ministry, and relationships are moving at a snail’s pace, I remember 10,000 hours. And it feels hopeful rather than disappointing. Because I’m not quite there yet but God is the author of time.
He is faithful to complete the work he began in you. Philippians 1:6 was a chosen life verse back when I graduated from college with a marketing degree. And now I am just beginning to understand it.
Faithfulness for the long haul isn’t popular but we need the faithfulness of Jesus for fulfilling purpose and calling.
Deeper impact for the Kingdom requires deeper change within us. The deeper the change, the slower the process. You can only go as wide as you are willing to go deep.
Waiting isn’t what we want, but it’s what we need to bring our best self into the world.
We aren’t gathering at 7:30pm every week because we are bored, experiencing acedia, or need something to fill a Tuesday time slot. Ten years ago, someone invested in us, leading us through the same mapping process. And that investment in our potential as leaders will forever change the trajectory of our lives.
Be for others what you want to be for yourself.
And if you are thinking 10,000 hours seems unrealistic, how about 100 days?
It takes 100 days of focused discipline for behavior to shift and transformation to take place.
Where is God calling you to be faithful? What does faithfulness look like in the place where you live?
New Content, Conversations, and Community to Know About
Because I haven’t written here for several weeks, there are a few new things I want you to know about. I’ve been busy behind the scenes creating new spiritual formation tools to help you bring your best self into the world!
First, subscribe to the blog here and receive a bevy of free resources that foster a rhythm of rest, including two eBooks.
I’ve started a podcast called A Beautiful Look and curated an intimate community on a new platform called Patreon. You can find out more about that here by watching the video. I’d love for you to join me!
I may be quiet here on the blog, but I write to the Sabbath Society every Friday. If you are struggling to find a rhythm of rest that is realistic in your life, or need encouragement to persevere in making rest a priority, join our global community by subscribing here.
If you are stuck in an area of life, circling the same issues without new results, you may need help to move forward. Because we cannot reach clarity on our own, I provide coaching for people that leads to breakthrough, renewed purpose, and deeper intimacy with Jesus. If you are interested in coaching, contact me here and let’s start the conversation.
Follow me on Instagram where I share beauty collected in London and keep conversation fluid. This post was actually a conversation started over there!
Thank you, Shelly, for these words of wisdom and encouragement. Especially appreciated: “God is looking for people who are willing to persevere in trust; faithfulness even when things aren’t going well.” I’m in the process of self-publishing a Bible study, with the help of a woman who’s familiar with all the technical aspects. Even so, it is daunting. But God has prompted me to write, so I persevere, and my desire is to remain faithful, so I fight against discouragement. Thank you also for that factoid about 10,000 hours being required to achieve mastery. Puts our efforts into perspective, doesn’t it!
Well done Nancy! I know many creatives who are afraid of navigating new technology which means we are robbed of their art because of fear in the new. May we all remain curious learners and persevere in growth!
“Be for others what you want to be for yourself.” I thought about how we met on this blog so many years ago and you have been for me what others were for you. I am so grateful for being my faithful friend through all this writing and and not writing, but mostly through the living of life. Such a encouraging post. Grateful. xo
Your friendship is a treasure! I’m so grateful for your voice in my world. Thank God for blogging that brought us together in a comment box!