Just Be Faithful

by Marilyn on November 17, 2014


“I’m so tired” I think as I’m walking to the subway. Rain is falling and my feet hurt. I’m dragging at six thirty in the morning. I want to cry in this world of cold and rain.

Just be faithful – It’s not like I see the Heavens open and hear the voice of God reverberate across the skies and through my head. It’s just this still, quiet, persistent thought.

Just be faithful.

I’m just back from a refugee camp where 1500 people are displaced — men, women, and children. A place where you beg God to have mercy, where you weep for those who have lost everything. Where you wish you had millions of dollars and a heart that could love harder.

I want to do so much more.

I send a message to my friend miles away in Djibouti, in a place as dry and hot as my world is cold and rainy. “It feels so small” I say. She replies in words that capture a life of being faithful “Know what? It is small. And you are just one person. But a mustard seed is small. That’s the way of the Kingdom. May we always delight in being part of small things.”

Just be faithful.

Those words again. They are so persistent. I must pay attention. Faithful – having or showing constant support or loyalty. Steadfast. Dedicated. Constant. Loyal. True. What does this mean right now? What does it mean in crowds and tiredness? I know well what it means in the quiet with my candle burning and my hot drink by my side. Oh I know faithful then and it is easy. But what is faithful in a refugee camp? What is faithful now – on a rainy morning? 

Just be faithful.

So I think about what being faithful to God means in this moment. In this moment it’s as simple as not taking the handicapped seat. But I want it, oh how I want it. And it’s there and it’s empty and what if some young 20-year-old takes that seat? It’s not for them! It’s for the handicapped and I feel handicapped at the moment. Just be faithful. Don’t take the seat. I sigh and move on down the squished train. Faithful – it means I won’t push my way through, it means I’ll give up self and make sure others are okay, it means I’ll notice the person that needs help. That is all I am called to, nothing more — but nothing less.

Just be faithful.

It means I’ll give a nod and a smile when I don’t feel like it, that I’ll stop and communicate with the marginalized when I see them on the street, that I won’t gossip about co-workers when they make me angry, that I won’t get hung up on statistics and who is reading blog posts, that I will communicate in spirit and in truth, that I will love hard and pray harder, that I will read and speak words that honor God, that echo truth. Just be faithful.

The words continue “Marilyn, I know you’re tired. Just be faithful. With my strength be faithful.” There is now a heavy rain falling and those of us on our way to work are leaving the subway. There is a puddle three inches deep on the platform right before the stairs, just deep enough to seep into shoes before going up to dark clouds and rain. I’m still tired but I walk with One who knows tired, with One who knows pain, with One who knows what it is to live out faithful in this beautiful, broken world.

Just be faithful. The words are lyrical now, they speak through the mist and rain, redemptive and life-giving. 

What does it mean to you this moment to be faithful? Not tomorrow, not yesterday, but right now? 

A Life Overseas Readers & Friends –  if you buy Between Worldsfor yourself or a friend during November all proceeds will go to refugees in Turkey. The refugee situation gets more difficult by the day and cold weather is coming. With that cold weather comes an increase in need for resources like blankets, heaters, tents and more. Along with that are the myriad of health needs so I’m thrilled to be able to send any royalties to a cause like this. It seems appropriate given the topic of the book and where my heart lies. An apology that the Kindle edition is not ready – the delays were not anticipated.

Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging can be purchased here: 

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About Marilyn

An adult third culture kid, Marilyn grew up in Pakistan and then raised her own 5 third culture kids in Pakistan and Egypt. She currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts 15 minutes from the international terminal. She works with underserved, minority communities as a public health nurse and flies to the Middle East & Pakistan as often as possible. She is the author of Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging and you can find her blogging at Communicating Across Boundaries.
  • Richelle Wright

    Repeating the same lyrics to myself as I trudged – and slid a few times – through snow this morning. Thank you for being faithful, for writing, for sharing, for giving, for this, TODAY.

    • Marilyn Gardner

      Thank you – for your gifts of encouragement and affirmation and your willingness to use them. Sliding with you in our journeys of faith.


    Today….just be faithful means not saying more of less than the Lord has given me in regard to returning to the mission field after this upcoming furlough. I want so badly to come back, but the Lord has not spoken to this yet. I cannot say I will return or I will not, but only reflect on James 4:13 and repeat it at every turn… “If it is God’s will.” As much as I want to return, I am good with waiting on Him. I desperately want more of Him. If waiting reveals more of His heart, I am good with that. I crave it. So, I wait for the answer, and I trust Him, no matter what the answer. But it is emotional. Just be faithful. Very timely.

    • Marilyn Gardner

      This resonates so deeply with me. I know that deep desire to “go back” and the emotional response to it. Praying for you in this place of waiting. “There’s a lot of waiting in a life of movement”

  • Kimberly

    Thanks for your post Marilyn!
    One of our colleagues says, “The fact that you cannot do everything is not an excuse to do nothing.”
    I blogged this from the field a few years ago:
    Excerpt: “My one drop is all I can give. I am finite. So I give my one drop with
    cheer and focus not on what seems lacking, the parched hole that
    remains, but on the drips. Drip, dripping their lovingcare into this
    immense desert of need. Drip. Drip. It is too heavy to walk carrying the
    constant burden of this empty bucket. Hopelessness takes you down.
    Thriving here means reveling in the drips, the droplets that together
    add up to something more. Hope. A rising water level. Their thirst will
    not last forever. It will be quenched.”

    This is what ‘Just be faithful’ means to me. Focus on what IS, what CAN BE, what I HAVE TO GIVE. If I have not been given extra strength, I cannot give it away. Just be faithful – on my own? Not possible. Every good faithful thing in my life comes from Him. I can only share what He gives me to share.

    P.S. The pain in caring about unmet needs is proof you are hard-wired for heaven. 🙂

    • Marilyn Gardner

      Love that “hard-wired for heaven” thought. Thank you! And yes – impossible to be faithful on my own. Only possible with the author of faith. Thanks so much for linking your piece and the excerpt. The drip, drip, dripping was perfect for today with the skies heavy with rain. Perfect.

  • I think the emails have stopped working again. I haven’t gotten any of your posts for a while.

    • Marilyn Gardner

      Phyllis – thanks for letting us know. We will check on this!

  • In my stage of life as a mother of young children, “just be faithful” means to look to their needs despite how I feel. Often, I don’t feel like making dinner or changing diapers. Often, I feel more like browsing the Internet or writing something more mature than ABCs. But even though I live in a city thirsty for God’s message, my place now is here at this well where I draw water daily for my son and daughters to drink of God’s grace, love, and joy. Together, we can walk out and live His gospel, but being faithful for me means “together” and not me breaking away from them to feel successful in missions but a disgrace in mothering. Just as you had said, “It feels so small,” but I love the response from Rachel: “That’s the way of the Kingdom.”

    Thank you for sharing this, Marilyn.

    • Marilyn Gardner

      Malia – this was a few short years ago for me. And I remember feeling it so acutely. I recently wrote a friend about my ‘silent’ years. And yet, yes to Rachel’s words! That’s the way of the Kingdom. I have teared up everytime I’ve thought about what she wrote to me as it is the heart beat of who we are. And I love, love your words “I draw water daily for my son and daughters to drink of God’s grace.” May we all do the same.

  • Rachel ‘Pieh’ Jones

    Oh Marilyn, this is really beautiful. What good, deep, hard things to come away with.

    • Marilyn Gardner

      Thank you so much for your words, quoted above. They resonated with me so deeply. I’m trying to internalize them!

  • Elizabeth Trotter

    SUCH an important reminder, Marilyn. Hard to remember when almost everything I do, every day, seems small. Being faithful in the little things is hard, and I so agree with Malia, here, that it sometimes seems easier to do other, more grown-up things than the things I’ve been assigned for the present.

    • Marilyn Gardner

      Oh so so true. It’s those little things that trip me. Faithfulness in the earth shattering is one thing, in the dust turning it’s quite another. Thanks for getting this!

  • Lovely and true piece. Thank you. I’m older than you all, and of late, “just faithful” has meant laying down for days to let a back spasm heal when I prefer to be up and doing. To receive interruption and doing-nothing for a few days as grace, time to rediscover the peace of a quiet mind and heart. It has meant buckling down to work yet again on this language I’ll never master, and at my keyboard at the designated time though I don’t feel like writing and so much else needs doing. It has meant the prayerful unraveling of complicated competing desires among various ones asking for retreat here, some assuming all join one way of doing, others desiring a different and separate time to pursue Jesus. And giving joyful welcome to a dear one who wants me to daily make with her a new dessert for her new cafe so that she can learn my recipes and ways of doing, and to the one who needs money, and to the one who simply needs love and my attentive listening. And then there are all those olives that need gathering, oil to filter, olives to put up. All in Jesus’ name and for His glory.

    • PS I already purchased your book when in the US last summer. I live in Turkey. Thank you for your desire to engage in some measure here.

    • Marilyn Gardner

      This is simply beautiful. It’s amazing how hard it is to “receive interruption and doing nothing as grace, time to rediscover…” Easy to tell others that it is grace, hard to believe it for ourselves. Thank you for sharing this and for gathering olives in a land that I love. It was a joy to be there recently.

  • Aryangor

    Do what you would do if you would be the person you want to be. Do it despite the fact that no one is watching – because God and yourself are always watching – and only God and yourself matter.

    • Marilyn Gardner

      Such truth in this. Thank you.

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