Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Might Be a Kook If ... The virtue of FAITHFULNESS

I might be a kook if ...
I give up trying to paddle and ride
the first fluff in on my knees.

All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but MOTIVES are weighed by the Lord.
- Proverbs 16:2

Nothing pushes me toward kook like behavior more than paddling out past the surf break. It’s insanely frustrating when I turtle roll and still get pulled back to shore - all my efforts erased. Any expectation of riding a wave dashed. And, at least, I’m relegated to paddle back out again after every failed attempt to ride a wave.

When my tenacity is spent, the next step is to catch the fluff of any wave headed to shore and ride it on my knees - defeated. A kook is known to try for a little while, give up, but claim to be “righteous.” The “faithful” surfers I know paddle regardless of the outcome. And even more, they do it joyfully knowing that the goodness it produces in them far outweighs the laborious effort. They always return another day.

Like paddling out through the surf break, I see faithfulness[1] being built up in me through the grace of God transforming me to maturity (2 Corinthians , Romans 12:2). He uses the primary sources of (a) the Word of God, (b) the Spirit of God, and (c) the body of God to carry out the work of renewing my mind. Within the context of my everyday life, I joyfully paddle in to the oncoming wave knowing it will produce in me eternal goodness (2 Corinthians ).

Each wave I’m paddling against invites me to respond with personality characteristics that shape the depth of my faithfulness to “just keep paddling:”

·   Courage
·   Reverence for God
·   Trust in God’s character
·   Love for others
·   Perseverance
·   A sense of purpose  

The righteousness imparted to me, and you too, comes from Jesus’ faithfulness not my efforts. If we are to imitate Christ, we are not called to be successful but faithful. We are to “just keep paddling” with the gifts, abilities, and opportunities God gives us and leave the results up to Him.

There are many that would declare Jesus death on the cross unsuccessful. But, God raised Him from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). God is about the results (1 Corinthians 3:5-9). We are to be faithful to do as God calls us to.

Do any of these efforts at faithfulness look familiar to you?

·   Just keep paddling: (Hebrews 12:2) Paddling through the on-coming waves of the surf break can be tiring, frustrating, and discouraging. As you are being transformed in to Christ’s likeness (Romans 12:2), discouragement through false expectations of success can keep a “wanna be” surfer from trying.

BE ENCOURAGED … Jesus’ faithfulness makes you righteous before God (Romans -24). You are to be in the business of being faithful to try with an ever increasing mastery and maturity.

·   Use the turtle roll: (2 Corinthians 5:7) Flipping the surfboard over and hiding under its protection allows the surfer to avoid the brunt force of the oncoming wave. This is similar to operating everyday with faith (trust) exercised in the light of God’s truth.

BE ENCOURAGED: Trust the Word of God to wash over you. With faith in God’s goodness, that is His mercy and justice, He will transform you from the inside out (John ) without stuffing you to the bottom of the wave.

·   Tie yourself to the leash: (Ephesians -14) When you paddle out and get “stuffed” by an on-coming wave the leash keeps you from loosing the board. The same is true of the Holy Spirit. Having believed in Jesus as the savior, God lives in you as a deposit guaranteeing your inheritance in to the Kingdom of Heaven.

BE ENCOURAGED: The Kingdom of Heaven satisfies our greatest needs (Romans ). We are no longer orphans but heirs (John ).
·   Don’t fear the cresting wave: (Hebrews 12:7-11) Looking off in the distance a large on-coming wave is perfectly timed to crest and break just before you. The full force of the wave will rend a turtle roll ineffective. The inevitable outcome is being pulled back to shore to start over. In the midst of your fear press on anyway with courage knowing God’s character is good.

BE ENCOURAGED: Everyone undergoes discipline by a loving Father (Hebrews 12:8). He does it for our good so that we will share in His goodness (Hebrews ). 

To be faithful is to be firmly devoted to the person of Christ: loyal, true to, unwavering, steadfast. We exercise faithfulness in ALL we DO in response and devotion to Christ’s faithfulness. And, in doing, we become a faithful reproduction of the portrait.

Before WE can ride God’s wave as His servant bringing hope and healing to His sheep we first must be made new, whole, and holy as we paddle through the surf break. Join me to … never, never, never give up.

[1] J. Hampton Keathley, III http://bible.org/seriespage/mark-14-faithfulness (accessed November 29, 2011)