Category Archives: Faithfulness

In Memory of Tina Lin: A Race Well Finished

tina

Today, I went to a memorial service for a young lady whom I’ve never met, little knowing how much her life would impact me.  The room was jam-packed with friends and family who flew from Canada, Oklahoma, Seattle and other parts of the country to celebrate her life.  On short notice, I was notified by my aunt and uncle about this just a few days ago, so I went to support them in their time of grief.  Tina Lin, 36, was struck by a car in the parking lot of Costco when an elderly driver stepped on the wrong pedal.  She is survived by her husband of two years.

As loved ones stepped up to the podium to share about Tina’s life, the single-most common theme I picked up in their tributes was Tina’s love for God.  She was an amazing young lady, exuberant with life, laughter, compassion, kindness, zeal, wisdom, courage and sense of humor – and above all that, everyone knew that she was a young woman devoted to her God.  In the service program, the words of her favorite scripture were inscribed:

“Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. 

“And now that I am away, it is even more important.  Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with reverence and fear.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. 

“Do everything without complaining and arguing so that no one can criticize you.  Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in the world…

“Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.”

~ Philippians 2:12-16 (NLT)

 

It became clear to me that Tina had her priorities straight.  The impact of her self-sacrificial dedication to serving God’s people and her daily walk with the Lord is palpable, even reaching beyond her large social network to people she didn’t know (like me, for example).  We can never underestimate the importance of our lives; day by day, we are stitching our thoughts, words and actions into one large quilt – and that quilt is the message overflowing out of our hearts.  Though Tina’s life was tragically cut short, her quilt was beautifully finished, sending forth the message of the importance of loving God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.

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Broken Promises, Undying Faithfulness

broken promIf you married someone who was unfaithful to you, would you remain faithful?  The concept of making a vow and actually keeping it seems to have gone out of style these days as divorce rates skyrocket.  The role models we see in media and in our own lives have skewed our perception of loyalty, but I am willing to put my life on the line and bet that loyalty is still the #1 trait we want in our closest friends, our family and especially our significant other.

Underlying the concept of loyalty is the expectation we have of those closest to us.  From the beginning, when our parents made a promise that they would do XYZ, we as children expected them to carry through.  If they didn’t, of course we were terribly disappointed, but if they habitually made promises that they did not carry through, we grow up believing that it’s okay to say what we don’t mean without much regard to the weight of our words.  It’s okay to tell someone what they want to hear and later break your promise because, after all, words don’t mean anything.  When it comes to a life commitment to someone you love, in the back of your mind you might be wondering if this is going to work out in a few years.

What about when it comes to our relationship with God?  If we have been betrayed again and again by others’ lack of substance, are God’s words any good either?  You might hear people’s amazing testimonies about God’s faithfulness; you can buy hundreds of books from Barnes & Noble about God’s promises and really try your hardest to believe that God’s promises apply to you too, but these books just don’t resonate with you because you have prayed and asked God a million times already for that one thing, and He still has not answered.  So yeah, He may be answering everyone else’s prayers except yours.  What gives??

“If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.”  2 Timothy 2:13

Regardless of any poor role models you may have had in life, keep in mind that God was not that father who abandoned you, the mother who abused/neglected you, or the relative/family friend who betrayed you.  Just as you wouldn’t want your significant other to judge you based on his or her experiences with their ex, it would not be fair to God to use your life’s experiences as a metric for His faithfulness.

Because we are not perfect, we are guilty of sinning against God every day, hurting Him with our doubts, our lack of faith, and our hurtful actions.  Constantly He reaches out to us, tries to woo us through some random act of kindness through a stranger or a friend, or maybe He tries to get your attention but you stubbornly refuse to acknowledge His existence.  Despite all your rejections, God still waits for you faithfully, because He longs to fill the void in your broken heart.  God is faithful, and no matter what you do, He will remain faithful because that is who He is. Your behavior does not change God’s character.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

We are finite, and God is infinite, so is it possible for us to ever understand God and His ways?  Just because God didn’t answer your prayers the way you wanted (or when you wanted), it doesn’t mean that He is deliberately holding out on you.  God is always good, all the time, but trusting Him with your unhealed heart is probably the biggest obstacle standing in the way of your faith.  We are tainted with memories of broken promises and words that meant absolutely nothing.  And the media isn’t very helpful in building up the concept of loyalty in its truest form, either.  How do we rid of ourselves of such polluted, warped belief systems?

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts…”

Isaiah 55:6-7

Negativity, warped notions of loyalty, and wrong actions that result from such thinking are all wicked in God’s eyes.

Let go of your preconceived notions of who God is and allow yourself to fully embrace what the scriptures say about God’s unfailing love and loyalty.  Abandon any presumption that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and fully pursue Him with all your heart.  Don’t allow your bitterness from broken promises to ruin your understanding of God.

“God is not a man that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill?”  Numbers 23:19

#unfailinglove #promises #loyalty #integrity #Godisfaithful #faithfulness #reliable