Whakatupu - Cultivate - Faithfulness (Ngākau pono)
I have a little lemon tree - it is a very small tree with hardly any branches. It doesn’t look like much and yet, it produces completely regular sized lemons, about 3 of them at a time. I have no doubt that my little lemon tree is capable of growing bigger and producing more fruit but it might take some time.
I think we’re like this as people sometimes, we can produce proper real life fruit but there might not be much volume yet. It’s because we’re new at things, learning new ways of being.
If we’re not careful we can discount what we produce, our level of faithfulness, our circle of influence based on what we see as our ‘size/maturity’. Fruit is fruit - God is pleased with it. In fact the more time I spend on planet earth the more I’m convinced of how he delights in us. He really knows we’re a bit awesome. He knows we’re fearfully and wonderfully made and he’d like us to know it too. When we live in our real selves, knowing we’re loved and accepted - we thrive, we increase, we tend to produce more of the good, fruity stuff in life - like kindness, faithfulness, goodness, joy, self control.
‘But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard - things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick to things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.’ (The Message)
So we see that faithfulness is a gift from God - as in he has given us faithfulness. We have the opportunity to cultivate it. Join me in trying not to reduce our sense of our own fruitfulness based on the size or quantity of the fruit we see. Maybe we should focus on the quality and sweetness of it instead?
It’s easy to reduce the idea of faithfulness to a thing that happens in marriage between two people. But it is so much more - I am faithful to moving my body when I hear music, I am faithful to being available to a friend in need, I am faithful to wanting chocolate in the evening, faithful to parenting as well as I can. But if there is music and I don’t move, or a chocolate free evening, or my parenting is lacking, I don’t doubt myself and give up on ever dancing or nibbling chocolate or parenting again!
Faithfulness is not the momentary absence of an action, it is not mucking up once and declaring oneself unfaithful or faithless. Its about keeping on keeping on. Its about carrying on, cultivating faithfulness.
I believe that recognising where we are faithful can inspire us to carry on being faithful and noticing faithfulness can allow it to catch and spread through other areas of our lives - because the result of faithfulness is a willingness to stick to a thing.
And to be honest when my faithfulness runs out - I ask for help. And then I am reminded he is the source of faithfulness (it is a gift from God) and the best example of it. I can take my lead from God and be encouraged, his faithfulness can stand in the gap, when mine is failing. I love that about God - so faithful.
Here’s a poem about faithfulness or earth, or both...
Do not turn me down,
I am brown, I am earth
and for what its worth - Whenuapai.
Look at the sky,
when you return
we will meet, and then together - grow.
I will stay. I will pray.
no matter where you go - Arohanui.
Lift my cup,
fill me up, green and red and blue.
I will sup,
I can wrap love in any hue.
Blow away these hazy days,
break them into two.
I rejoice you are my choice
Dream on, yes dream right through.
I will raise my royal cup.
I will lift it up and up.
I will drink to you!
I will lift my well worn cup.
I will raise to you,
my faithful love - anew.