Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Blessings of Faithfulness

by Gayle Lechner

The blessings in my life are so abundant that it’s hard for me to imagine not being faithful to such a wonderful, loving God. Understand one thing, though; I am not faithful because of God’s blessings. I don’t look at faithfulness as something to be because of promised rewards. Faithfulness is not something held for ransom until God pays up. I’m not blessed because I attend church twice a week, or tithe, or greet at the sanctuary doors. Those are blessings in and of themselves, but they aren’t reasons for faithfulness.

Sometimes it’s hard to stay faithful. It’s not a yellow-brick-road kind of walk when you’re faced with the flying monkeys of life. I find comfort in Psalms; reading about David’s faith in his terrifying circumstances greatly boosts my faith through my trials.

              3 “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.
              4 In God (I will praise His word), In God I
                 have put my trust; I will not fear.”  Ps 56:3-4 NKJ

              16 “As for me, I will call upon God, and the
                   Lord shall save me.
              17 Evening and morning and at noon I will
                   pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear
                   my voice.”  Ps 55:16-17 NKJ

Staying faithful through the rough times shows God our character, what we’re made of. We’re trustworthy; we have a pure heart; we are responsible and reliable. The blessing from our faithfulness is God’s peace, “which surpasses all understanding.” There is no substitute for that inner peace, that utmost trust in God. Prov. 28:20 says, “A faithful man will abound with blessings.” (NKJ)

Blessings won’t always be “dramatic” demonstrations of the importance of faithfulness; more often, the blessing can be so subtle as to be overlooked, or unnoticed, until some time, in some other context, it all makes sense. Then we say, “Oh! That’s a God-thing!” when we come to the realization. It’s true that we reap what we sow; the plantings of faithfulness yield an abundance of blessings.

There’s a hymn called “Count Your Blessings,” the lyrics of which go like this:
              “Count your many blessings, name them one by one
              And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”1

Since it would take days to name all of my blessings “one by one,” this is just a sampling of “what the Lord has done” for me since my salvation:

  • I was once so poor I ate nothing but egg-drop soup to save money for filling the gas tank to get to work. God kept my tank half full for two weeks. I drove all over Pasco, Hillsborough, and Pinellas counties without using any gas.
  •  One Sunday I found an envelope with my name on it on my seat with $100 in it, but no note identifying the giver(s). $10 went into the offering.
  •  After a failed marriage, and an abusive relationship, I was glad to be alone. God said otherwise and spoke to me a name: David. I had no idea who that was. I told God He was making a mistake. I was the one mistaken; David Lechner and I will be married 8 years in Feb. 2014.

  • Becoming a stepmother to a 14-year old girl thrust me into a violent vortex of verbal abuse from her mother and older sister. I wanted to quit and run away. God said, “I’m right here, this is where I want you. Reach for Me.” The blessings that would’ve been lost had I given up? A great relationship with my stepdaughter, a good relationship with her mother and sister, and my grandbabies.
  •  Abused by a church, I quit without knowing where to go. A church I drove past daily always had a full parking lot; the marquee enticed with that month’s sermons and other happenings. I didn’t want to “audition” a church. God said, “Go! I’m there” so I did. My anger made an unfavorable impression on the pastors, who thought they’d never see me again. I came back the next week, and have never left. Thank God for Celebration Church and Pastors Larry & Deanna!
  • When I first volunteered at Hopetown (ministry that fed and clothed the homeless/poor), I worked in the clothing section. After a year, I moved up to food distribution. Another year or so, I was helping with administrative issues and making food runs. Six months later, I was responsible for the whole program.

This is what I know: my faithfulness to the Lord, my church, my pastors, and ministries in which I serve have made me a very rich woman. My heavenly bank account would impress Dave Ramsey. Faithfulness is persevering, pushing through, believing God’s promises in spite of what your five senses (or your friends) tell you. Being faithful to church and pastors means tithing, supporting their decisions, and praying for them daily. It means when there’s a need, and the call goes out, the answer is yes, without hesitation. I should not be so busy with my life that it interferes with my willingness to respond positively.
Blessings aren’t always about events; the blessing from being a faithful servant is a self-satisfaction that I’ve contributed something positive. It’s helping without asking for, or expecting, public recognition. God knows what I’ve done; it’s unnecessary for the entire world to acknowledge me.

And that’s the icing on my faith cake.

His promise of never leaving nor forsaking us? Believe it, it’s true. Stay faithful, stay the course, and He’ll walk every step of the way with you. And when your faith wavers, He’ll understand why and then gently nudge you along. He gives me strength when I have none, courage when it leaves me, wisdom about how to handle situations. Yes, my faith increases exponentially, and I’m not quiet about it. If people think I’m crazy, well, I am – for God.

I ask. He responds. I reciprocate. This is what faith feels like.

I’ll leave you with a song written by Cole Porter called “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)”:
“When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
If you're worried and you can't sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings.”

May you fall asleep counting your blessings. Pleasant dreams.

1 Words by Johnson Oatman, Jr 1856-1922; Music by Edwin O. Excell 1851-1921.


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