"Perhaps nothing encourages our hearts more than recalling events which we clearly see the power and love of God."
Without planning to at all, Justin and I both chose the word faithful for 2018. He had never ever chosen a word before (not his typical sort of thing) and I had never talked with him about my words in the past. So we were both surprised when it came up in conversation late last December. It was too specific to be a coincidence and we probably said something like "Oh boy, what is God going to try to teach us with this in 2018?" Oh. My. Goodness. We would not have believed it even if we could have snuck a peek into the next few months.To be honest, I think we both were viewing as an opportunity for us the practice being faithful to God. With our time and money and relationships. All of that stuff. Like, Lord, show me what it means to be faithful in all the ways. But as it turns out, God had other (bigger, harder, crazier) plans of what he would teach us (and is still teaching us!) about faithfulness. Isn't that always the case? I should know better by now than to assume what God is planning to teach me :)
Instead of only practicing what it means for us to be faithful, we've actually been learning the life changing lesson of how abundantly and never-endingly God himself is faithful to us. For all of time and through every single situation- and not dependent on us at all. God is faithful. He just is. It's been true since the first day of creation and it will be true throughout eternity.
Back on January 1st, Justin and I both would have said 'duh! We know God is faithful." We would have said we didn't doubt it at all. But you know, our lives and actions and thoughts probably spoke something different. Minute by minute, in the specific big and little details of our lives- I'm not sure we believed in God's faithfulness. Or at least we weren't acting like it. We held tighter to tangible things that made us feel secure and worked hard on our own, attaching God's name to things we did without really giving him a chance to show us himself.
Today, more than halfway through this year, and we know differently. Our eyes look up more now than they ever did because we know, on the deepest level, that God is faithful. We keep our eyes open for God and his works and glimpses of how his faithfulness is showing up in front of us. I've been reading in the book of Psalms all summer and, even having read it a dozen times before, I have been completely struck by the theme of God's faithfulness woven throughout it. When David writes in seasons of truly crappy situations, he surely whines and complains and begs God for help- but he also ALWAYS praises God for his faithfulness. Like, God this sucks or is hard or weird or I don't understand. But you ARE good and I know that and it all comes back to that! The entire book of Psalms is one of recounting God's faithfulness.
The actual events of 2018 aren't all that important, you could probably replace them with a season you've found yourself in before. And I have a feeling we'll have some more surprises and things turned upside down before we see the end of the year. So in all of that, God has showed me that the most encouraging thing in the entire world is to stop (and not be caught up in the unknowns or worries) and take note and look for his faithfulness. I mean, its there whether I take the time to see it or not. But I'm getting better at stopping. Taking stock. Holding up an ebenezer. Spending more time thinking about how faithful God is than worrying about things or wondering what the future looks like.
All of this came to mind again today after I updated our Chatbooks series. A silly $10 photobook I fill up over time and order every three months or so. If they just sit on a shelf, I forget about them. But I pulled them down and laid them out and darn it if I wasn't just blown away by those simple, everyday images of our family. God has been faithful. For years. For always!
So I'm looking longer today at these pictures and what they mark for our family- God's faithfulness.