Essence means the inherent nature or indispensable quality of something abstract or a concentrated extract. It is the thing that determines character. Faith means trust and devotion while faithful is remaining true to the fact, to be loyal and steadfast. A faithful person is the opposite of a traitor. Faithfulness is an action word and the quality of being faithful and keeping true to your word. It also means following through on your commitment,
One depiction of faithfulness is Ruth in Ruth 1:11-17.
Can you imagine getting married and your spouse passing on then your mother-in-law going back to her home? She asks you to remain but you choose to go with her no matter what. Ruth in the bible really intrigues me because I don’t know if I would have been that way. It is hard enough for many of us to leave things that are familiar but what would it be to uproot yourself completely?
A couple of things catch my attention:
She had and lost: the loss did not taint her sense of life. I imagine she still loved life and particularly her mother-in-law. What kind of relationship did they have? How had they cultivated it? Where did they deepen it? How did she maintain her inner sense of balance?
She chose to remain: Naomi begged her to go back to her family but she said no. I can imagine that as they walked or travelled Naomi would keep asking her to go back but she was steadfast. How did that certainty remain? What did she know that kept her with Naomi? I remember Naomi telling her that she could not give her a husband yet Ruth remained. Ah! This woman.
She listened to and followed instructions: Ruth had no knowledge of how to be a good Israelite woman. How could she, a Moabitess, know? So she listened and followed everything Naomi told her to do. I also imagine that she watched Naomi’s interactions with others, and listened in on conversations and prayer times. She was on track right down to the evening visit to the harvest fields to see Boaz.
How many of us would be so diligent in such challenging situations? Would you even think about it? What I find interesting is the seeming simplicity of her life even with very challenging circumstances. Remember they were two daughters-in-law and Orpah went back. Please note, there is nothing wrong with her going back. It is what made sense to her. Yet Ruth chose a different path because she knew in her hearts of heart that her path was aligned with Naomi and she would not let go.
Each of us has that kind of calling. There are people who are integral to our coming of age and reaching impact. In recent years, I have encountered several of my integral people and it has been transformative. They have spoken over me and challenged me to keep growing but it has also shown me a few things.
I RECEIVED a gift from God: it was inputted into me before my birth and it is designed to make my life journey successful. So do you!
I must WORK on and with the gift: the work includes understanding, using, creating room for others and growing through the process. So must you!
I must BEAR FRUIT: the proof of my life and gift is in the lives transformed; that is my fruit. A tree without fruit is either cut down or ignored so imagine a life that does the same. I must bring forth and so must you.
The only way to do this is to remain faithful to the call of God. I have a choice to remain faithful or not and I have learnt that being faithful to the cause is all that matters to me today. The essence of faithfulness is the CHOICE to remain true to who I am, what I know and who I am called to be.