Getting Full on Faithfulness - Part 7
Welcome back! If you are just joining, The 9 Now is a weekly series revealing a view into the 9 Fruits of the Spirit. May this Word of Encouragement speak to you on how the intentional decisions we choose to respond with, impact ourselves and others.
As we move to the seventh fruit of The 9 NOW series we are learning that God provides us the Love, Joy, and Peace we need to respond with Patience, Kindness, and Goodness, which allows us to grow in Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control. Today, we turn our focus to Faithfulness.
The journey I wish to share with you all today started around the age of 21. I was a good person, had a caring heart, was full of life, highly eager to create, innovate, and learn. I was young, in love, getting married and would soon have a family. This all led me to the reality that the faithfulness of God must surely be tied to one or more of the attributes I had seen so many people speak about. Faithfulness of God must be linked to: Your Wealth, Your Health, and Your Happiness. But what happens when one or more of these traits are in jeopardy. Is God still faithful? More importantly, when one of these areas are jeopardized, will you still be faithful to Him?
Wealth is in jeopardy…
Financial decisions I had been making from 18-21 (debt via credit cards mainly) had caught up to me. Here I was married and about to have our first child. We were in no position financially to care for this child. I was making about $14,000 annually (gross) offsetting that was about $5,000 in debt. My pride was as swollen as my debt to income ratio. I was selfish and making decisions for me, rather than the family I had. I lived under a belief that all I needed to do was work harder. If I worked harder for God, surely He would be faithful. After all, Wealth was linked to His Faithfulness in my reality. Soon I took on a second job. Now rather than working 8 hours a day I found myself working 15. Even so, I would have to search through trash cans in the evening hours (due to embarrassment) to collect the money needed to purchase baby formula.
Things got better over the years when my wife began working. This allowed me to go back to one job. My searching through trash cans worked on my pride. But my reality of God’s faithfulness being linked to my wealth was fragmented and I would search for answers, answers that would not come for many more years. Not because God was not showing or telling me, but because I was not listening, therefore, not ready.
Health is in jeopardy…
Fast forward 14 years. My wealth has begun to increase. Immediately you might say, “I would sure hope so, nearly 15 years has passed”, but what I am talking about is not due to inflation, time, or anything of that sort. During this time, my wife and I made a commitment to tithe. We choose to give to God ahead of anything else. So my reality of His Faithfulness linked to wealth had been restored. But now, health was in jeopardy. In January of 2010, as a result of working excessive hours, drinking high volumes of caffeine, and becoming friendly with pride once again, I found myself introduced to the very real reality of anxiety and fear. This false sense of physical health was masking the very raw and real reality of an issue I was facing with mental and spiritual health. Now at 35 years old, I was paralyzed by fear of something that was not even real. For the next 3 years, I battled this and grew incredibly frustrated and angry that God was not helping me. I was talking with Him, pleading with Him, doing everything I thought He called me to do, but found no response. I still had this struggle with anxiety and fear and it was not going away. If my health was how He displayed His Faithfulness, He was not.
During this same time, while my wealth was increasing, my health, specifically mental appeared to be failing. With it came the loss of happiness. Now 38 years of age, I am feeling hopeless. I did not see why I was going through all this and why for so long. My life was passing me by, my boys were growing up and becoming men. My marriage was growing more deeply, yet I was not happy with my life as a whole. So I cried out to God to reveal my purpose. Reveal to me what He was training me to do. Reveal to me who He wanted me to talk to or mentor. Reveal to me the purpose by revealing to me your Faithfulness.
I remained steadfast in my relationship with God. I pursued Him with the likes of Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” The reality was revealed to me during this struggle for 3 years. The Faithfulness of God is not measured by your Wealth, your Health, or your happiness. It is measured by….
God was working on my holiness. He desired my total devotion in order for me to do His will. My trial was a refining process and renewal of the mind. He knew that unless he broke me free of pride, selfishness, and fear, I would not be able to accomplish what He needed of me. You see, God remains Faithful to you all. Each person who reads this. He remained Faithful to the men I mentor each week. He remained Faithful to my children to give them the best dad, one who would fight for them and their faith. To my wife who desired a husband to lead her and her family. To be strong for her. You want to talk about strength. When you are face down on the ground in the most vulnerable form, calling to God to change you. That is strength. Strength is rejecting everything you believe and desire of this world to pursue, without wavering, under constant persecution at times, the will of God.
Like so many who I know in this world, know personally, who are mad at God because He did not remain Faithful to them in the areas of Wealth, Health, or Happiness, I am not. I am not angry with God for allowing trials. I am blessed. I understand now why God removed Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. He did not do this to hurt them or make them homeless, He did it out of love. A love that reveals a heart of mercy. God knew that had they been permitted to stay, they would surely have eaten from the Tree of Life, resulting in an eternal separation from Him.
God also knew that if He did not allow the trials of fear and anxiety into my life, I would separate myself from Him one day. My focus was on the flesh and therefore the world. He revealed to me it was not the wealth, health, and happiness he desired ultimately for me. He desired holiness. He desired a steadfast, unwavering faith from Chris Hewitt.
God does not wish to withhold wealth, health, or happiness from you or I. But, as He did with me, He will if it means the result of the withholding will create Holiness in us. That is what Faithfulness is. Faithfulness is about carefully keeping what we are entrusted with. God is entrusted with us, each one of us, we are His children. He will not forsake you or me, He will never stop pursuing us, and He will never be unfaithful to us. So the next time you find yourself in a trial, turn to James 1:2 and “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” for this is not to hurt us, anger us, frustrate us, etc. This is to invite us into His plan, to do His work, to Trust Him, even when He remains silent, seems distant, or is not performing miracles. God is Faithful my friends. Want to see for yourself? Try this:
1. Get a piece of paper and make a timeline of your life.
2. Draw a straight line, horizontally, to represent your life line.
3. Draw vertical lines of events in your life.
4. List the events, good or bad, significant or what you consider trivial in your life.
5. Bracket out the whole timeline along the bottom.
(Should look something like this)
Now in this line, write in “God Remained Faithful”
Truth is, without the trials in our lives we may never see God’s Faithfulness. Our trials draw us into Him, help us to depend on Him, and allow Him to do His good work in and through us. Every event of your life, (small, medium, or large) God is there. My trial birthed the HITOP Ministry, the WOE Writer blog, enriched my life with many new friendships, and propelled me to a deeper relationship with Jesus, my boys, and my beautiful wife. My trial humbled me. Refined me. Renewed my heart, mind, and Spirit. I was never alone.
We must remain faithful in believing God is who He says He is, allow the Holy Spirit to teach us, and the Bible to speak to us. I pray you will.
I hope you found this post to be thought provoking, encouraging, or that it moved in your heart, please share a comment, quote, or scripture to help others to be encouraged today.
The next fruit we will be GENTLENESS, stay tuned.
Until next time…
Chris Hewitt, the WOE Writer