7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one
1 John 4:7-11
Love may translate into a feeling but it so much more than that. It is a daily choice to get closer to God and then live out our lives as he instructs.
Love is from God
Love is instruction
Love is a Covenant
Love is a supply line
Love is a source of strength
Love is an antidote or cure for fear
Love is a measure for our walk
Love triumphs over darkness
Love is a place of rest
Love is not earned
Love is accepted
Love is intentional
Do you understand who you are?
You are the beloved of God, the apple of His eye, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden, a chosen one, a king, a priest. You are loved by God and that is enough.
In a previous piece, The Essence of Faithfulness, Ruth’s life taught us that we all receive a gift that we must work on faithfully and bear fruit to attain our calling and assignment on earth. Faithfulness is foundational because it attracts the resources needed for the assigned task, weaves in the connections needed to live and thrive, and provides stability to our walk.
We are created for community life thus we thrive through faithfulness to the call and consistent communication. Communication is the impartation or exchange of information through a medium, which can be written, spoken, or in any other form. Effective communication is designed around the needs of the recipients and listeners so that they can truly connect to and interpret what the speaker is saying.
For this conversation, we will explore three levels of essential communication.
God: I used to see God as the guy sitting up there waiting to hit me on the head for everything I did that he did not like. I have since learned that he isn’t like that at all. He is the creator of the universe, Father, and lover of all. He is our source, strong tower, shield, and defence. He loves us and is always speaking words of life to us with the hope that we will listen and then guide us. His words do not return to him void but accomplish all He determined they would (Isaiah 55:11).
He does not withhold from us but provides ways to connect to us. I searched high and low for the perfect way to connect with God. In the search, I found there are several ways to reach him. We connect to God through prayer, the Scripture, the spoken word from his servants, His promises (the ones He has given you as part of your journey), and His blueprint. When God gives us a word, he supports it with a plan and people to bring it to work, His Blueprint. Our conversations with God are a response to his love.
Self: We are all created in God’s image and likeness: his beloved. However, do we understand what that means? Do we see ourselves as worthy of his love and love ourselves fully? Do we accept ourselves as we are? How do we speak to ourselves?
I am reminded of Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” This reality is foundational for every person on earth. We all speak to ourselves based on how we perceive ourselves. We respond to the image in the mirror based on our inner truth. However, is it aligned with whom God says we are and are becoming?
If we are negative to ourselves, we will speak negatively and out of line for our calling. To be faithful to God’s call on our lives means we must be true to how we deal without ourselves. Be faithful to the word of God for who you are and speak to yourself in the right tone; full of love.
Others: Scripture tells us to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 12:31). This means that I cannot be faithful to a friendship with someone else if I am not faithful to my relationship with myself and God. My relationships will be unstable if we are not communicating well with others. How I engage with others is frequently premised on my personal self-awareness and self-confidence levels.
Which of the three levels of communication do you find challenging? Are you in good stead in all of them or is there one that is a struggle? I have learned that I can only work on what I acknowledge. My previous poor self-communication had significantly affected how I spoke to myself and in turn, impacted how I expected people to deal with and treat me. I choose to work on communication in my journey to consistent faithfulness.
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.
I previously wrote about being out of line with my spiritual leader. If you missed it, be sure to read about submission or stubbornness. I could console myself that though I was out of line, it was mostly ever so slightly. Yet out of line, no matter how little is out of line and I needed to recalibrate and realign.
Realignment is not as simple as I expected it to be. I thought I would pray and get over it, but alas! It was so much more. God led me on a journey that brought all my pride and self-importance to the surface and then crumbled it one piece at a time. He exposed my sense of self and unveiled the ugliness underneath it. He uncovered the deep hurt and fear that made me build walls and showed it up for what it was: hiding.
How could I hide these things from myself for so long?
The unveiling of myself was somewhat painful but not hard. Realigning was the challenge. I had to acknowledge that distraction had moved me away from my assigned path. I was so used to my leader that I had forgotten how to listen, respect and honour him.
In teaching, Apostle Selman explained that we are all multi-dimensional. We receive grace from people based on the dimensions of their lives we acknowledge and how we interact with them. So if I see my lead as a friend, I only receive friendship and friendly advice. If only a brother or sister, that is what I receive. If I see them as a prophet or priest and engage with that dimension, I will partake in the prophetic and priestly. However, to fully receive all that is mine, I must understand how God views them and their assignment and respond appropriately.
Ah! Indeed I was off track because I had become lax in my dealings.
I expected my lead to understand when I did not show up as if I was showing up for him. I expected him to check on me and pray for me always. I expected others in the team to understand when I did not participate fully. I forgot to pray for him and the work he does. I missed learning opportunities because I had heard him speak so often that I was less engaged when he repeated teachings.
My first port of realignment should have been the knowledge that God assigned me to His servant and work. I needed to reconnect to why God attached me to this particular leader. My behaviour was a great reflection of my relationship with God: a mirror of the importance I had given Him. My inconsistency and flippancy said a lot more about my walk of faith than I could imagine.
The only remedy was total recalibration.
I asked God for sight, healing and restoration, pleaded for mercy and grace; I sought a pathway back to wholeness. God graciously gave them all to me. However, the work was still incomplete without an apology to my leader. It did not matter that I was one of the more consistent ones. It did not matter that he was not upset or frustrated with me. It only mattered that God had shown me my error that I had to correct.
The apology brought me to my knees, head bowed by the weight of my actions. I had a clear picture of my faults and those of the team. I could see how our actions had short-changed many of us. Only God can understand what I saw that day and the weight of it. I understood how important honouring God’s servant appointed to lead us is.
Honour is a door to dimensions we would otherwise not know. It is the foundation of growth in all aspects of life and the key to revelation and insight. Honour cannot be traded or demanded. Honour is purely by the revelation of who the person is and what they represent in God. Honour is about obedience to divine instruction and not manipulation to get a blessing.
Honour bears rich and valuable fruit.
I received a verbal blessing for realigning, a lighter spirit and peace in the depths of my soul. Certain things that weighed me down and confounded me shifted. Major decisions I had made but could not keep became possible. My eyes opened, my ears popped, my mind connected to concepts then my hands produced good work. Now it was clear that the sense of stagnation I had was partly because of where my heart and mind had been. There are dimensions I could not rise into when I had dishonoured or been lax with the servants of God.
Do not be like me and live so flippantly that you miss your divine reality.
My change has come as I have learned to believe the word of God fully. The shift has settled as I have begun to see my leaders for who they are in God’s sight. I have become watchful of the leads I serve and now understand the truth of who they are. I have changed how I interact with my leaders. The measure of grace I receive from them has also changed.
Sometimes we wonder why things are not working. Doors to opportunities remain shut while the promises we are waiting for remain unmet. Has something in this article challenged you? Good! Now have a conversation with God; ask Him to show you the state of your heart, what is off track and how to turn it around.
As I thought about moving from unbelief to belief, I realised that my early life had shaped my perspectives when I learned how to interact with people and what to expect. The shift happened as people decided to go on with their lives and keep growing. It became clear that I could not count on most of them because they had things to do that made me unimportant in their scheme of things.
I had always assumed that everyone wanted me to see myself grow and become better until I learned that I had to take care of myself and my growth. I was perplexed because this did not look or feel authentic to how I wanted to be loved and appreciated.
My ability to believe stuttered because of what I had experienced.
It took a while to understand that I am the total of my thoughts. My convictions and beliefs show in my words because they are inner work. In my reflections, I remembered Joseph, Esther and others in scripture who went through hard times but did not leave the faith. I also thought of people who went through hard times in this life and walked away from the faith.
I understood the dangerous notion that if we walk with God our Father, life should be stress-free and struggle-free but is that true? No, it is not. Show me anyone who did great things for and with God without some hard times in their lives. I have looked around but cannot find a single person whose life spoke to the enormity and goodness of God without going through something difficult.
But guess what; God never leaves us alone, especially in trying seasons.
God always steps in for His people and gives us a way out. We see this when he rescued Israel from Egypt using Moses and his crew and sorted Abraham by making it possible to have a child in his old age. God strengthened Mordecai to support Esther so she could go before the king and sent four unshakable Hebrew boys into captivity together so they would stand and keep each other accountable. He sent Ananias to anoint Paul after the Damascus experience and sent Phillip to interpret scripture for the Ethiopian eunuch.
God never promised us a good and simple life. He promised to be with us and manage things as we lean on him. God declared that he would stand with us and walk the journey no matter what happens, how long, how far or who walks with us. He promised to provide a way out in times of trouble like he did when Paul and Silas were in prison when the people prayed.
Faith is the certainty that God is on the throne and in control.
Belief now means a few different things to me:
I will stand on the word of God because it is reliable.
Nothing will change or shift my position or faith in God.
I will align with people who encourage me and hold me to account for the journey.
I will speak the words of life to my heart and over my life.
I will remind myself of His goodness every day.
I will write a memorial of how He has come through for me.
I will align myself with His purposes for my life.
I will surround myself with people with a deeper understanding of divine principles.
I will remember that God is aware the state of affairs and all is well.
I will stand on the plan for my life as designed in heaven.
Shifting to belief has meant that I must re-wire my mind to our new state and position.
Scripture has become my foundation and strength. It encourages me daily to remain truthful and on course despite the situation.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
In the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. Matthew 12:34,
Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrew 11:1).
Do not despair in your situation, God has a plan for your ultimate good. Shalom.
Recently in a conversation with God, he asked me, “Do you actually believe?”
What??? How could that be the question? There is a back story here. It was on the back of a question about a promise that seemed late. As a family, we received a clear word from God more than a decade ago, but we are yet to see its fullness. I was in a tizzy because I couldn’t understand why we were so stuck and were not arriving at our destination. So, imagine my surprise at God questioning my belief.
Let me laugh at myself. Of course, God knows all and sees all so the gap in my beliefs is evident to him. The shock was that I had never seen it. I could not imagine that I could have such a gap. When did my faith get this low? What happened to me; how did it happen? What should I be looking at in my life? Like all divine encounters, all one needs is the desire to see, and He will open your eyes.
I saw it! Where? I confessed the promise but always had a niggling doubt in my mind or heart of its fulfilment. I spoke the promise but questioned the process and timeline. I confessed the word, but whenever trouble hits, I look for a way, a plan B an option.
Sadly, I honestly didn’t believe unequivocally.
Belief is much stronger than anything I know. It is beyond decreeing and declaring the word. It goes deeper than stamping my foot in confidence as I talk to others. It is much more than anything I knew about myself and my life. It is about a depth I was unaware of and unwilling to admit until that end.
Belief turned into something so much bigger than me. It showed up as trust, faith, and confidence that started deep within me. It is certainty in God even about things that seem impossible to me. The word that holds my attention is a certainty. Certainty is a firm conviction, meaning that no matter what happens, my mind will not change, and I will not doubt or wonder if things will happen as said.
Belief is an undying commitment to a word so strongly that I will remain steadfast in the face of all things, including adversity, like the three Hebrew boys, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, aka Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Certainty is the only way out of unbelief.
How did I stop believing?
My life path had been treacherous for so long that the depth of my faith shifted. I had allowed the things that weren’t working or seemed delayed to destabilise my position. The shift had been so gradual that I did not see it happening. I did not see my faith waning, my heart moving or my mind changing. I didn’t perceive the pain was slowly chipping at the pillars of my faith until it was almost all gone.
On the surface, I said I believed, and it appeared so, however on the inside, there were lots of doubts. I denied the questions and fear. I rejected the notion that I possibly had no foundation or base anymore. I couldn’t admit that I had moved out of my place of rest into a situation of works and machinations in the name of remaining true to the path to bring the will of God to pass. My words and inner actions were totally out of sync.
The solution is that I return to the place of rest.
It became clear that unless I return to rest and trust God truly, nothing will work. Nothing is possible without a complete recalibration. I can now see why the questions I asked my mentors didn’t make sense to them or seemed shallow. I now understand how some comments I made got me strange looks from others. I acknowledge the sag in my shoulders is because I lost confidence in my walk but camouflaged it well.
The beauty is that God doesn’t leave us in unbelief.
When we ask, He sends us help. I attest that assistance has shown up for me. I realised that He is a Father who never lets His children die. He is gracious enough to reach out or send us people to support. He will never leave a child who is calling Him stranded. He responds to a responsive and committed child.
The journey back to a strong belief is still going on and has taken several things:
Acknowledging what I had seen in myself.
Repenting for getting distracted by the troubles of this world.
Creating a new pathway with Papa.
Speaking the new path out loud so my whole being can hear.
Repeating the new pathway to myself when I feel my faith is waning.