I once thought being faithful meant being right. Then I saw it on display for 27 years and learned. It means living faith long term, year after year. It means expressing faith, cultivating faith, acting in faith--until the faith of everyone within reach is challenged to grow too.
Mr. John was a Christian in the extreme. His devotion was trademark in our town. Everyone knew and respected John. He had spiritual influence off the charts. He prayed for everyone.
I listened once as he described his morning prayer time. He was 88 at the time, and he said he was going to have to start sitting in his chair to pray. After hours of talking to God about all the people in his world, he simply couldn’t get up from the kneeling position as easily as he used to. I am certain I was one of those people. So were the hundreds in his church family, half the village, all his relatives, and everyone he heard about who had a need.
He was unreasonably generous. He lived on a small pension, but he gave away the little he had, and his gifts blessed hundreds of children, helped families in need, supported church projects, gave to missions, and more.
He also was unwittingly perceptive. He was kind to those who treated him like a funny old man, but he related to them wisely. He could tell if someone was nervous, burdened, preoccupied, or angry. He processed it all with a wealth of understanding and often caught people off-guard just to engage them on their level.
He lived creatively. He thought differently than those around him. He looked at people with different eyes. He knew what would touch their core. His stooped shoulders and big, shuffling feet may have discounted him in some people’s eyes--until they realized he was relating on target, with a keen mind, for a purpose. When he seemed out of step, it was usually because he was a step ahead of those around him.
He witnessed constantly. There was no event, no conversation, nobody who crossed his path that didn’t give him a good reason to share a hopeful word, a praise for God’s goodness, a promise from scripture, or a simple appeal to their heart.
John loved to tell about the people he was touching; to listen to his stories, you'd be tempted to think he lived in another world. He constantly saw God at work. To him, every conversation was a witnessing success. Every opportunity he had to share a kindness was a victory for God. He didn’t seem to be waiting for anything more. It was enough to him to know that he was doing his part. He was certain God was doing even more, though, and he moved on confidently to the next opportunity.
John wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t always right. Sometimes he was pretty stubborn. But he was faithful--faithful to be speaking, caring, and praying year after year after year. He was faithful to live out his trust in God for the long haul. He was faithful to the needs of the people around him. He was faithful to his convictions and the Spirit’s promptings. He was so faithful, he could not hide his faith.
He sowed faith everywhere, and around him faith grew up. He is resting now, waiting until Jesus can reveal the full harvest of all his faithful planting. The small seeds of chance moments John took, a quick prayer he gave on the street corner, the personal honor he gave the smallest child, and the impact of his genuine, faithful heart has been planted. The Spirit is watering. The Sun of Righteousness is warming it. It is coming to harvest. --KL