Being Faithful

for March 13th, 2014
Thursday of the First Week of Lent

Liturgical texts here



IT was a cool evening as I stood outside my father-in-law’s farmhouse. My wife and I had just temporarily moved in with our five young children into a basement room. Our belongings were in the garage overrun with mice, I was broke, jobless, and tired. It seemed that all my efforts to serve the Lord in ministry were failing. That’s why I’ll never forget the words I heard Him speak in my heart at that moment:

I am not calling you to be successful, but faithful.

It was a turning point for me, a word that “stuck.” When I read today’s Psalm, it reminded me of that night:

When I called, you answered me; you built up strength within me. Your right hand saves me. The LORD will complete what he has done for me…

The Lord does not take away our crosses but helps us to carry them. Because…

…unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. (John 12:24)

The Father’s goal for you and I is ultimately our eternal happiness, but the road there is always through Calvary. In the spiritual life, it’s not about getting to where you want to go, but how you are getting there.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you…” Of course, you and I know by experience that we ask the Father for things all the time, and often the answer is no, or not yet, and sometimes yes. That’s why Jesus adds the words:

….how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.

The Father will give “good things” to those who ask. But say you are asking Him to heal you of an illness. Jesus might say in reply, “Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asked for a fish?” That is, a physical healing may be exactly what you need. But on the other hand, the sickness may be exactly what you need for the sake of your soul and its sanctification (or that of others). The healing may in fact be a “stone” that would become an obstacle to your dependence on God, or a “snake” that would poison you with pride, and so forth. And so He says to you too, “I am not calling you to be successful, but faithful.” That is, let go of your plans, what you think He should do, your control of tomorrow, and trust in Him today. That is hard to do! But it’s what we must do if we are to become “like a child.”

Still, we should not hesitate to cry out like Esther:

Now help me, who am alone and have no one but you, O LORD, my God. (First reading)

For the Lord always hears the cry of the poor. And He will give to us what is “good.” Do you believe this? The Father will always give to you what is good, and even more so when we are faithful children. So ask Him. Say, “Father, I give you this situation. This is the desire of my heart and I ask that you would make it so, for I am alone and have no one but you. But Abba, I trust in you, for you know what is best for me and what is best for my neighbour. And whatever you decide Father, no matter what…

…I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth; in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise. (Today’s Psalm)

And the Lord will be your strength to help you be faithful… not necessarily successful.



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