The Measure of Faithfulness

4:42 AM

The boy I love doesn't know if he's saved. This is a hard thing for me. He makes me laugh, he gives the best hugs, he reads Edgar Allen Poe aloud in strange accents, he writes odes to blank paper, pens and ink, he asks tough questions, he points me back to the truth when I hyperventilate lies and despair -- but he does not think he knows Jesus. And there's this constant ache in my heart because of it...because we both know that two people on different roads cannot walk together.

I began praying months ago. Come to think of it, much has happened in both our lives to prove that God's working in us and through us, together and separately. Still, he does not know and I, I do not know. That point has not been reached, that realization has not been manifested, that prayer has not yet been fully answered.

Even though he's come so far, I cry more now because I love him more now. It seems more impossible now that it seems so possible. How will we know? And what if he's doing it for me? And why, why do we love each other so much if it means nothing in the end?

I pray. I trust God to work. I know He loves the lost, I know He's called the boy I love, but it seems like the stuff that never actually happens in Real Life...at least, not in the real life I live.

How long, how long, how long? If I were more spiritual -- if I prayed harder -- if I got rid of wrong motives -- if he only cried out more -- if he'd only study theology -- if, if, if -- but we both know that it's not us we're waiting on. We're waiting on God.

This confused me: Why would God withhold His salvation from someone who clearly wants to change, who prays every day to know the truth? Surely, surely God would jump into action at a chance like this!

Going off what I wrote a few days ago, waiting sometimes makes me feel like a spiritual failure. Elijah prayed for fire from heaven and it fell instantly. Peter said, "Rise up and walk!" and the lame man immediately went walking and leaping and praising God. The miracles of the New Testament involved instancy.

I would give anything for a miracle.

Notice, however, that many times the measure of faith comes from waiting inordinately long periods of time. Think about Abraham, the man of faith himself. Living to a ridiculously ripe age, he waited for a insanely long time until God even first appeared to him. I wonder if Abraham prayed to understand a God he could not know before? And then, when God promised a child of redemption to Abraham, he waited many, many years until it actually took place. It takes just a sentence, a small point in the Biblical narrative, to cover decades of Abraham's life -- decades of waiting and hoping and praying and questioning and maybe wanting to give up on God altogether. Yet perhaps the greatest spiritual lesson, perhaps the entire strength of Abraham's faith, lay in that length of time covered in only one verse -- not in the obtainment of the thing but the faith that waited an inordinately long time to obtain it. God did not wait to prove Abraham that he was human, impatient and had little faith: He waited because He knew Abraham had the faith to wait that long. And if you're waiting for a good thing God has promised -- like salvation or sanctification or anything else -- you can be assured that God does not give us things we cannot bear.

Anna waited her entire lifetime to see the Savior. Joseph suffered many, many years before he saw any redemption in his tale. God waited patiently for every one of His children to repent and believe in Him. The entire creation currently groans in anticipation of redemption. Many years passed before the flood actually took place and Noah saw with his own eyes that God wasn't kidding.

Insanely long periods of time. Insanely long. 

Sometimes God does that because...because God's God and He can. He has a reason for it. An infinitely, insanely loving reason for our own good. Maybe because He wants to show us the strength of faith He's granted us or to show us how our little faith must grow to meet the challenge. He does not wait to destroy us, discourage us or batter us down with our own sense of faithlessness. Waiting doesn't mean we missed the bus half-a-dozen times already.

Waiting means the best is yet to come.

p.s. Friends, pray for us? Pray for patience and strength on my part. Pray for his salvation. The fun thing about the faith family is that we all get to journey together and unite faith with faith to wait for God's best in the end. 

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18 impressions

  1. I'm praying for you, Bailey. Remember Proverbs 3:5-6. Believe that this will work out for good somehow even though it is so, so hard. You're right, all of us are in this together. We love you, Bailey!

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  2. This post encouraged me a lot. :) I'm experiencing a lot of waiting on God in my own life right now. I will definitely hold you in my prayers.

    One of the really wonderful things about God is that he doesn't write stories and then give up on them because the characters are too difficult. Here's two things of encouragement I have for you:

    1) For you: Remember that "all things are possible with God." He has what's best for you in His plan. Trust Him, and it's totally worth it.

    2)For him: "Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be open to you." God will honor your earnestness to know him. He will not hide himself from the one who sincerely seeks.

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  3. praying for you, Bailey! I think a phone call or skype sesh is due soon... :) we need to chat about all this!

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  4. I know you don't know me, but I've been reading your blog for a couple of years now. My prayers may not mean as much to you as the prayers of those you know, but you have my prayers, and you have plenty of 'em.

    Trust in the Father. He loves so much more than you ever could, because God _is_ love, and our love could never, ever equal His. God is far more interested in his salvation, and He will work it out perfectly. Because He is God, and He is good.

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  5. Maybe you're the one who needs to change?

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  6. Athelas Hale: Actually, your prayers mean very much to me. Thank you. And thank you for your encouragement...I forget that there's a God who loves him far more deeply than I ever could.

    Candice, change in what way(s)? I'm curious to hear your thoughts, because God's been revealing to me so many faults and inconsistencies during this particular story. I DO need change in so many areas.

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  7. What I meant was that it isn't fair to expect someone to change who they are for you. I'm not saying that you are trying to change him (maybe you are) but you sure seem to be hoping that he'll turn out to be the sort of good Christian man you want.

    In most cases it won't work. Maybe at first, but when the new wears off a relationship a person still has to be true to themselves. I've been there. I was in a relationship with a guy for four years who wanted me to believe the things he did and it turned out to be wasted years. I tried, I really did. But I discovered that you can't make yourself believe in something you don't believe in.

    You have been a Christian your entire life and might not understand this struggle. I know you see it as something that God can "fix". Maybe so. But you might be better off looking for someone who is on the same page as you. It would save you a lot of heartache and grief.

    Here's a link to a blog I read that deals with changing and growing faith:

    http://drkellyflanagan.com/2013/05/08/the-safety-and-danger-of-certainty/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-safety-and-danger-of-certainty

    Good luck,
    Candi

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  8. Oh, Bailey. I'll be praying for you guys. *hugs tightly*

    "And why, why do we love each other so much if it means nothing in the end?"

    This post makes me cry...

    Love you, dearie. :')

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  9. Such vulnerable, open thoughts--thank you for sharing and reaching out to your family of Christ. Yes, I will pray!

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  10. Bailey, I just want to encourage you to continue what you are doing. Waiting on God is so very hard, but when God moves it is amazing! It is God's will that none should perish and He will save anyone who asks, as long as it is from the heart. Keep praying, for God hears. A verse that I drew much strength from a couple of months ago was Revelation 5:8. God treasures our prayers! Remember also Psalms 56:8.

    A sister in Christ,
    --Kendra

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  11. Waiting. Praying and waiting. Waiting and praying. It can be so tiring. This song has been the prayer of my heart for so many people in my life lately. I'll add you to the list. That's what sisters are for!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUEy8nZvpdM

    I keep reminding myself, repeating like a refrain: He IS good. And He IS faithful. And He is. In our blindness of the moment, He can see.

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  12. Kendra & Savannah. . .thank you, thank you so much. I needed to hear everything you shared with me.

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  13. Bailey, I can't add any more than what these dear sisters have said; but I have already been praying for you and will continue to do so every time I think of you. I have definitely known the feeling of caring for someone who did not share my faith, and it is always a painful thing to go through. I wish I were there so I could give you a big hug! :'-}

    Let us know if there's anything else we can pray for! We all love you very much!

    ~ Vicki

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  14. You have my prayers, too! "He has set eternity in their hearts..." (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

    -Camille

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  15. Hi Bailey I found your blog this morning. Incredible the way you put thoughts on paper! A very special gifting indeed. Hi dearie how is the relationship with 'the boy you love' now? I have learnt a prayer that works in every situation. Be still before the Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit to Anoint you. Have pen and paper to journal. Invite Jesus into the scene and ask ' Jesus, where we are You in this situation? What are You doing? ' This is absolutely biblical because it's fixing your eyes on Jesus...not on the bigness of the problem. I got this from Mark Virkler's YouTube and teachings on 'Hearing God'. God loves you. There is greatness within you...you are absolutely precious in His sight!

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  16. Hi, Esther! Thanks for your encouragement! The boy I love professed Christ and began following Him the weekend after I posted this, and we began dating sometime after that. God is so, so good. :)

    I've found that God speaks to me through His Word alone and that's the most Biblical way that I've found. That's how I got through this situation -- I didn't need to know the outcome of the situation: I just needed faith and trust. I didn't need a special promise for this situation: I just needed the promise already made in His Word that He is GOOD, that He loves me, and that He appoints everything in His time, according to His will and for my good. The greatness within me comes through Jesus Christ alone, because it is no longer *I* who lives but Christ who lives in me...and He is truly marvelous in every single way. :)

    Blessing to you!

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  17. I wanted to share some thoughts along the same lines that Candice did in her May 9, 2013, 6:18 PM comment on this entry. I understand that he professed faith in Christ, and obviously, I'm not in a position to question his sincerity. But being unmarried and not having dated for the 28 years of my life, and having studied courtship and marriage, I'd like to offer some insight into this.

    I'm sure you're familiar with the Ephesians 5 passage on marriage, "Wives, submit to husbands; husbands, love your wives." But, consider, it's "wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, *as unto the Lord*." (Eph 5:22) What does "as unto the Lord" mean? It means, a woman is willing to leave her household, her community, her personal interests, her everything, to follow a man. Jesus said, "whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:33) Just as the church forsakes everything to be Jesus' disciple, so a woman forsakes everything to be a man's wife. This is what "as unto the Lord" means. Ps 45:10 says the same thing; the woman is exhorted to "forget also thine own people, and thy father's house."

    On the man's side, Eph 5:26 says that Christ purifies the church "with the washing of water by the word", and husbands are called to love their wives in the same way. That is, husbands have the responsibility to disciple their wives, and be the pastor of their household. A husband must be able to teach and lead spiritually. He also has the primary responsibility to teach his children (Eph 6:4).

    So, here are two questions for your reflection:

    1. Is this man that you're dating, one whom you would be willing to forsake all to follow? Can you submit to him, like you submit to Christ, because you trust in this man's character and godliness? It's not enough that he simply made a profession of faith here. Would you follow him wherever he goes, trusting in his leadership and guidance?
    2. Is this man someone who will be able to disciple you in the Word? Can he teach you spiritual truth as your head? Is spiritual instruction a major way in which he loves you?

    I'm a bit wary of the way you described this man in the beginning of your entry; the reasons you stated for admiring him were not "he's a godly man" or "he exhorts me to further holiness". The fact that godliness wasn't the primary reason for your attraction to him, is a big red flag.

    Perhaps one thing that you can pray about, is that God would conform your heart to his, and that a love for godliness and holiness, not a love for reading Edgar Allen Poe (for example), would be your highest priority.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts. I trust you will be in much prayer and Scripture as the relationship progresses. I won't tell you what to do, but, be careful.

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  18. Conrad,

    Since there's no way for me to contact you personally and you opened up this discussion on a public forum, I unfortunately must publish this publicly as well.

    I found your comment very offensive. Your accusations are too serious for the amount of information you know about the situation and should not have been shared in public. Your words mean something, and to be accused of not being conformed to God's heart because of one post in which I barely elaborated on the situation cut very deep. The comment was thoughtless, inappropriate and hurtful. You have slandered my boyfriend and slandered me.

    I debated for a couple days how to respond to your comment. My first reaction was to lash out or repay the hurt through harsh sarcasm. I am sorry for harboring so much bitterness and anger towards you. I'm sure you meant well -- if not out of any real concern for me, at least out of concern that I was violating a higher standard you believe in. I thought about not responding at all since I couldn't respond kindly and in love.

    But I couldn't let it go. Your comment hurt me that much. The only way to solve such hurt is to repay evil (however well-intended) with love. After talking it over with God and my boyfriend, I decided that I WOULD respond and lay before you my hurt, but also let you know that I forgive you completely. God has forgiven me beyond what I deserve, and I want to extend that forgiveness to everyone, especially someone who claims to be a fellow brother in Christ.

    You probably will never see this post, but I FORGIVE YOU, Conrad. I harbor no ill-will towards you for your comment and will extend grace and forgiveness to you with a glad heart. May Jesus Christ bless you, friend.

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