Some days it feels like I will never attain steadfastness in my Christian walk. I get to the end of the day and realize again that I have tripped again over the very things I had meant to avoid and the good that I had intended has been left undone for yet another day.
What does it even mean to be steadfast?
The online dictionary says “the word steadfast traces back to the Old English word stedefæst, a combination of stede, meaning “place,” and fæst, meaning “firmly fixed.” Picture a steadfast person standing firmly in place, not wavering or budging an inch, and you’ll have a good sense of what this word means. Someone can be steadfast in a belief, an effort, a plan, or even a refusal. Whatever it is, it means that the person will calmly hold firm to the chosen position and follow through with determination.”
A few synonyms explain even better what it means to be steadfast. A steadfast person is…
dedicated, faithful, resolute, single-minded, true, unflinching, unswerving, unwavering, unyielding, changeless, constant, enduring, dependable, established, fast, firm, fixed, immovable, persevering, stable, sure, tried-and-true, unbending, unfaltering, wholehearted.
These and many other words in the English language describe facets of this quality. It is admirable and desirable but oh so hard to attain.
So often I feel like a leaf in the wind, tossed here and there by the winds of circumstance and mood. I long to be and am impatient to become steadfast but it seems such a long and slow process with so much faltering on my part.
But God’s Word tells me that blessing goes hand in hand with steadfastness of godly character and godly actions. It is this Word that whets my appetite to become such a person, and the example of godly men and women who have gone before us inspire me to pursue it.
Psalm 119:1-3 says
“Blessed are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the way of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways.”
The blessed man or woman walk blamelessly. They walk according to God’s law. They keep his testimonies and they seek him with their whole heart. Their heart and their focus are not divided. They do not compromise with sin.
“You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.” (v4-6)
Meanwhile our struggle with our own lack of steadfastness is all part of God’s good plan, intended in the end to make us heartily sick of our tendency to wander from His commandments and sick of the constant pull of our flesh away from the life He offers. He allows us to experience this frustration so that we begin to understand how much we need His discipline and ultimately so that we will embrace and welcome even the painful instruments He uses to produce steadfastness in our lives, a steadfastness of purpose and of clinging to Him. In the end our struggle with sin is intended to produce in us a longing for a steadfast walk with the Lord more than for our own comfort. For “whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:2)
Steadfastly walking in God’s ways comes through enduring trials and suffering. The steadfastness of our character is grown when we persevere through experience that resists us and buffets us. Without these experiences our spirituality remains immature and unstable. Our loving heavenly Father is faithful to teach us to seek Him with our whole hearts so that we can understand the true meaning of blessing and experience its depth, which goes far beyond gratification of our immediate wants and desires.
God commands that we keep His precepts diligently (v.4) but with the commandment He also shows the way. In His kindness and mercy God leads, trains, teaches and empowers us to walk in His ways but we must not be surprised that the path often leads through pain and even suffering. We do not change from capricious and unstable individuals into steadfast seekers of God through ease and comfort. The path is always slow, often uncomfortable and sometimes exceedingly painful but the person that God has trained like this will be diligent in keeping His precepts, steadfast in His ways and will have their eyes firmly fixed on God’s commandments – His Word.
“I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!” (v.7-8)
Steadfastness will lead to joy as we grasp more and more how good God’s Word and His commandments are and as we come to know His goodness experientially.
Meanwhile, recognizing my propensity to wander, my lack of steadiness, and my failure to follow through on my resolutions, I cry out with the Psalmist to the Lord, “do not utterly forsake me!” I plead with God to continue to have mercy on my half-hearted following of Him, and to not forsake me in the trials that my weak and unsteady faith require to grow. My plea to Him is that He be patient with me for a little while longer, that He indeed change me and yet guard me in the trials which that changing requires, so that at the end of the day my faith may not fail but will come forth as gold.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kind, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ” James 1:2-3