Eighty percent of New Year’s resolutions are broken by February. I hear this statistic on an ordinary Friday at the end of an ordinary week. Already my hopes for 2019 feel a bit tarnished. I somehow continue to believe that with the turning of another calendar page everything will be made right. I will magically meet all my goals. I will overcome all my struggles. I will believe it and achieve it.
Instead, I still eat vanilla ice cream right out of the carton. I sometimes wrestle anxiety like a wild alligator. I feel confused by social media and the ever-changing algorithms. Curled up in bed, I tell all this to Jesus, and I ask, “What do You want me to picture as success?” It seems the answer that comes quietly into the dark is, Faithfulness.
This is not the answer our world would give. We’d be told fame or material possessions, climbing the corporate ladder or hitting the best-seller list, staying young forever or getting to sit at the cool table. But in the gospels, the master doesn’t say, “Well done, good and famous servant.” He says, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).
I’m not even going to try for “good” because it’s impossible. I believe that word describes the righteousness of Christ imparted to us through what He did on the cross and through His resurrection. We can’t ever be good enough for God. But faithfulness is our territory.
This morning, I read an endearingly human story about the disciples. Jesus has been crucified. Their lives are in turmoil. They’re unsure of what the future holds. Peter says, “I’m going fishing” (John 21:3). Haven’t we all had those days? We throw up our hands and say, “I’m going to get a latte.” “I’m going shopping.” “I’m going to the gym.” We turn to what we know. The disciples fish all night and catch nothing. Then Jesus appears, although they don’t yet know it’s Him, and He tells them to let out their nets one more time. They catch so many fish they can hardly handle them all.
This is faithfulness. It’s continuing to cast the net because Jesus says so. Even when we’ve been up all night. Even when we’re weary. Even when we’re confused. Even when we’re discouraged and want to quit. Our role is obedience; God’s role is results.
Eugene Peterson described faithfulness as, “A long obedience in the same direction.” It’s not sexy. It doesn’t make headlines. We’re not likely to get awards, applause, or even an abundance of “likes” for it. But faithfulness is quietly, often invisibly, life-altering and world-changing.
I want to be faithful to Jesus for a lifetime.
I want to be faithful to use my gift of writing for a lifetime.
I want to be faithful to my husband for a lifetime.
I want to be faithful to intentionally cultivate friendships with other women for a lifetime.
I used to think that what mattered most was growth. The difficulty with that is we can’t control growth. God alone is the one who makes things grow (see 1 Corinthians 3:6-7). We are instead invited to be faithful, to plant and water. Out of that naturally comes growth, but we don’t make it happen. That feels like a weight off our shoulders.
If you’re putting pressure on yourself today to do more, be more, or achieve more, then pause and take a deep breath. Just be faithful. If you’re comparing yourself to others in life or ministry and feel you’re falling short, refocus on your own journey. Just be faithful. If you’re striving for perfection and trying to make everyone happy, let go of those unrealistic expectations. Just be faithful.
We don’t need big new year’s resolutions. We don’t need to check every item off our bucket list. We don’t have to prove our worth. Instead, we can simply say, “Jesus, I will do what I can, where I am, in this moment, to love You and others today. Then, I will do it again tomorrow.”
That’s more than another resolution. It’s a tiny, mighty revolution.
If you’d like help going deeper, living freer and feeling more connected this year you’ll find it in Holley’s new podcast, More than Small Talk.
Our role is obedience; God’s role is results. -@HolleyGerth: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
As the saying goes, “God doesn’t ask us about our ability, He asks us about our availability.” I’m kind of stubborn and it’s taken me a long time to get to where I am in accepting that God is not pleased with all my striving, trying, performing, stressing. He’s simply pleased with me just for being Bev…just because He made me. Loved just for being – it’s a concept most of us can’t wrap our tiny minds around. Like you said, oh what a burden is lifted when we release the pressure of having to do and be more. What is “more”? What is “enough”? Every year I pick a word to be my guide word or watch word. Usually it’s something like “fire” or “embrace” – action words. This year I am choosing “rest”. Why? Because I’m tired of all the trying and God has laid it on my heart to embrace the discipline of rest. I am going to, in God’s enabling, be still, rest, and know that I am loved just as I am. Rest is a form of faithfulness. That’s what we are called to. Wonderful post and reminder for me, Holley!
Holley Gerth says
Love your word for the year, Bev!
Tom Morgan says
Thank you Bev
I, today, after Again striving to figure God out so I can be pleasing to Him and walk in His ways have determined to “let it rest”. I do love God and in my relentless pursuit of getting all of Him in my effort get burnt out. Today, I said, I was tired of working for God and only wanted to receive. God I’m exhausted of chasing you, I stop, you get to fill me up now. I want to only receive. 26 years ago when I became a Christian the Lord one day put this into my mind….a poem.
Just lean on Me and do not worry,
For I love you, we needn’t hurry,
And all you think you must get done,
It’s not you-for I’m the one
It has been 26 years and I still strive in my own strength to get all of Him.
Thank you for writing today.
Michele Morin says
Somewhere along the way in January, I assembled the word “persevere” in Scrabble letters on my kitchen window sill. I’m not calling it my word for 2019, and I haven’t made any resolutions this year, but whatever the year brings, my intention is to show up for it, trusting God with the outcome.
I’m grateful for the peace that has come with this.
Michelle Stiffler says
Holly, yesssss. This is it exactly. Your words weren’t just helpful today, they were God’s words for me as I confront choice, freedom, obedience, and their mysterious harmony in the space of time. Thanks for your faithfulness.
Thank you for sharing comforting words of peace and rest. Reading this helps give me courage and faith. Great is thy faithfulness, morning by morning, new mercies arise. Praise God for His goodness and mercy.
Kathy Cheek says
Holley, I think you have helped many of us today to steer our year in the right direction!
Lynn Koukal says
Thank you Holley for such a simple, direct, practical understanding of “what to” instead of the weight of “have to”
I have always found your transparent heart of sharing so refreshing, uplifting, encouraging and sound. There is way too much pressure in this world, even in the church, where it should be more of a refreshing watering hole. Your message today caused me to exhale a sigh of relief, and released a simple path I will like to skip upon now.
Amy Connell says
This speaks directly to my heart! Thank you for the reminder that all God is asking for is faithfulness – not subscribers, followers, or viral posts!
Thanks for the encouragement . The story from you and Beth just reminded of Great is thy Faithfulness to God. During that faithfulness HE does want us to rest in the assurance that He is there to help us in every situation. We just need to trust in everything. That is my goal this year is to trust him that he is working things out for my good.
I needed this today. I don’t normally read this at work, but I thought why not.
Holley, I needed to read these words today! The idea of continuing to”cast the net” even when I don’t see results, when I wonder if God is hearing my prayers… this is powerful. Thank you!
Thank-you for so wonderfully expressing this. I’m with all of you about making a New Year’s resolution. Instead I try to live each day, (even more) faithfully, and appreciate it for what it is.
3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the one who lifts my head high. 4 I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his Holy mountain. 5 I lie down and sleep, I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
Have a blessed day all,
Beth Williams says
You are spot on sweet sister!! God’s ways are not the world’s. The world’s system calls for more doing, being, striving, having. Work hard & you can have it all. Lysa Terkeurst said in her book “The Best Yes” “Saying yes all the time won’t make us wonder woman. It will make us a worn out woman.” Worn out women have nothing left to give others. God isn’t pleased with our constant striving. He wants us to just be obedient to the calling He has for “OUR” lives. Don’t compare your calling with any one else’s. Like the verse you quoted one plants, one waters but it is ultimately God who makes things grow. He knows exactly how to use your talents. He is looking for faithful obedient followers. That is all. Nothing else. I say we all pause today take a deep breath & quietly ask God what He wants you to do. Then go do it!!
Becky Beresford says
Okay, this hit a “something” deep down in me because I’m crying… Ha.
Thank you Holley for these faithful words. I struggle with trying to be more all the time, but I only end up sitting in my sadness while I eat out of MY ice cream carton (I’m a chocolate girl 😉 ).
But Jesus is faithful, which makes me want to be faithful to Him. Here’s to showing up each day and leaving the rest to Him.
Holley Gerth says
If it’s anything but ice cream I’m with you on the chocolate!
Patricia Raybon says
Just be faithful! What an encouraging message today, Holley. Your words ring loud and clear in my spirit because my devotional this morning explored the exact same theme: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). Thank you for calling us today to a faithful, consistent, net-casting walk. What amazing marching orders! Thank you!
NANCY GLADWIN says
Oh, I needed to read this today. As a young girl, do more, be more, try harder was stamped on my heart. It was a lie I couldn’t live up to. Anxiety was a result of this striving even in my spiritual life. God’s given me the gift of rest and a sweet sense of being known by him. It’s caused friction in my marriage. Your article is a reminder that obedience to God is all that matters. Interestingly I’m knee deep in Genesis right now. Abraham was an example of this and a friend of God. God whispers to me, let’s be friends.
It was totally God that I found my way here today. It’s really funny, actually, how I happened upon this article. But it made me cry, because it’s so incredibly poignant to what I’m going through exactly right now. It was a powerful message that I am going to share immediately with a group of ladies who I know also need to hear it. Thank you so much for this gift of truth. You have no idea how much I needed it. Of course GOD knew… and that’s why He led me here. Thank you for sharing your gift of writing with the world, and for being so faithful with it. XO
Hit the spot today, Holley! My bible reading prompt today was “Pray to be brave to walk forward in faith.” Growing in our faith is a constant renewing of our mind, trusting in Jesus with every breath.
Holley Gerth says
Thanks so much for sharing your hearts and kind words here, friends! Grateful for you!
Jenny K says
Thanks Holley- I appreciate the prayers you share, I love the one at the closing to do what I can, where I am, in this moment to love You and others today. This is such a simple prayer that refocuses the heart. I say your prayer “help me try to do my best and let your grace cover the rest” with my 4 year old every morning, this is another one I hope she can learn and have part of her life when she’s big enough to really comprehend how powerful the words are to change her heart like it does mine.
Sheeba Sagar says
Your words gave me comfort and inspiration during a very stressful time. God bless and use you for His glory!
I love the reminder that we don’t control growth, but instead we plant the seeds and water. Too often I’m trying to make something happen and boy is that tiring and disappointing. I also loved when you said: “This is faithfulness. It’s continuing to cast the net because Jesus says so. Even when we’ve been up all night. Even when we’re weary. Even when we’re confused. Even when we’re discouraged and want to quit. Our role is obedience; God’s role is results.” I’ve been missing this fruit of the spirit and I really appreciate you bringing it to light.