Some years ago I had the privilege of coming alongside a friend who was struggling with an addiction. I was his sponsor. We didn’t call it that—and our friendship did, in fact, go beyond such a formal arrangement—but that is basically what I was for a season. We decided it’d be good for him to check in with me every day for three months for purposes of accountability.
Yes, every day. We decided the best time to do this would be in the morning, before the craziness of each day’s activities would begin to creep in. This would enable me to pray with him each morning for strength to face the day and it would help him be prayerfully mindful of the issue for which he was seeking accountability. Since he lived some distance away from me, it was not practical to see each other face-to-face every day so we agreed that a daily phone call would suffice.
About five days into this arrangement we began to grow tired of it, partly because it seemed like our daily check-ins were nothing more than a silly formality. He’d ring me at a certain time, we’d say good morning to each other, and then I’d ask him how the previous day went. Was there anything he needed to share?
He’d say, “No, it was a good day” and then he’d add a few details that were unique to that day.
I’d say, “Okay, that’s great.” We’d pray and I’d remind him: “I’ll keep praying for you today, buddy. Call me if you need to talk with someone or have someone pray with you, okay?”
“Okay, sure thing.”
I can’t remember the exact day this happened, but on about day six, seven or eight, he let out a little chuckle when he called and we started our small verbal interchange.
I said, “This seems silly, doesn’t it?”
“Well, that’s okay, but you better get used to it because I gave you my word that I’d touch base with you every morning for three months and I intend to keep it. So, you can think it’s silly and routine and meaningless but that doesn’t matter because, come hell or high water, I will be faithful to this. I’m not going away, I’m not stopping, I’m not giving up, no matter how you feel about it. And don’t look for some tingly life-altering epiphanies every day, either. That’s not what this is. It isn’t sexy, it won’t be profound and you won’t feel thrilled every day. It’s just about keeping our word. That’s it.”
The rub of faithfulness is that it cannot be completed in five days. Faithfulness takes a long time. But somehow we expect we should get it down more quickly. Some things in life just take time. You don’t get the beauty of a 63-year-marriage in the space of 15 years. That never happens. Houses are not built out of cards.
Have you ever noticed the best things in life take time and hard work? The things most worth having are worth fighting for. We are more prone to throw things away when there is no sacrifice involved in getting them.
And we should never expect to do great things when we grow discontent with faithfully doing small things. No adult has ever reached maturity by skipping childhood. Some things take time. Faithfulness is one of those things. If we try to tie her up neatly, nice and tight, we’ll only discover we’ve bound her ankles—and she will lead us nowhere but flat on our face.