“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.” Psalm 57: 7 (NIV)
When I settled on the word, “Steadfast,” as my “One Word” of concentration for the year, I believed the Holy Spirit was speaking about my time spent before the Lord each day. I felt convicted to be consistent in having a regular time each day to spend with the Lord or at least show up each day before Him. For me, the idea of consistency defined this word that was used mainly in the mid 1800s but is making a comeback in our century.
Then I looked up the definition and some Scriptures on steadfastness. This old English word encompassed a lot more than I understood. The obvious one applies to our walk with the Lord, “firm in belief” from Merriam Webster’s Dictionary. Other definitions from the Webster dictionary included “loyal.” So far, the definitions lined up with my cloudy description of what I thought “steadfast” meant. Other definitions noted determination or adherence. This was where the interpretation parted ways with my personal interpretation.
I tend to be a person that could be described as more flexible than “firmly fixed in place.” “Immovable” was the synonym Webster pulled up in relation to firmly fixed. To me that sounded like someone who adheres to a schedule. Nothing moves her from the time allotted for tasks, activities, visits with friends, and quiet moments with the Lord.
However, as I looked through Scriptures on steadfastness, the focus of the word wasn’t a description of a rigid person but of one whose heart was faithful to God and His desires. He’s after our heart attitude, not our timekeeping schedule. Phew! Sticking to a schedule can sometimes cause anxiety whereas spending regular time with the Lord lifts the weight from our shoulders. His burdens are light and His yoke is easy (Matthew 11:30).
I can remember when my mom worked for a company that employed “timekeepers” who hovered over the employees, keeping track of how long they took to complete certain tasks. Mom was a nervous wreck by the end of the day. And if I ever called her at work on those days, she would say to me in hushed tones, “I can’t talk now. The timekeeper is here.”
Aren’t you glad God isn’t like that? Here are a couple of uplifting Scriptures to give us a picture of His steadfastness. From these, we can gather a clearer idea of what He expects from us (within our human limitations).
“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 36:7 ESV
“As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!” Psalm 40:11 ESV
In light of these Scriptures, what steadfast characteristic is our Father looking for in us? Keep in mind that God, through His Holy Spirit, gives us the grace to grow in godliness. It is not accomplished through our human effort.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV
This does not mean that God has a stopwatch or a calendar, clocking in the amounts of work we do, rather He is looking at the attitude of our heart to serve Him as He leads us.
A little later in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 ESV, Paul tells us, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
Throughout Scripture, we see examples of godly men and women who were steadfast. They kept God’s commandments, were faithful to His leading in their lives, and persevered under trials. Examples of those in the Bible who were steadfast jump off the pages in the stories of Daniel, Joseph, David, Deborah, Ruth, and Naomi. If you’re wondering how Naomi’s faith was steadfast, remember that she returned to Bethlehem, acknowledging that she was bearing many sorrows from the Lord. However, she returned to trust God’s laws regarding gleaning from the fields to provide food for her daughter-in-law Ruth and herself. She knew that through this method of gleaning, a kinsman-redeemer might be found. She was still placing her hope in God’s ways.
In the New Testament, the apostles and disciples who proclaimed Jesus to the world after His ascension persevered under trials always trusting in His love and praising Him. These steadfast warriors of faith include Paul, Peter, Stephen, John, Timothy, Lydia, and Priscilla.
Looking at God’s love and faithfulness to His people throughout the Bible, I understand steadfastness should be manifested in me through a love for God that puts Him first in my life and my day. Being faithful to read and study His Word, and being obedient in applying His truth as I serve Him and others are all characteristics of steadfastness. Above all, my life should be marked by praise for Him and gratefulness even in the most difficult times (that’s a tough one for me).
In some ways, this steadfast walk rekindles my first love for the Lord. It deepens my desire to submit to His call and allows Him to work these characteristics in my heart.
Be careful to not confuse this emphasis on steadfastness as a way to earn our salvation. Our salvation has already been won for us in Christ. We cannot add anything to His death and resurrection to ensure our presence with Him in eternity. Remaining steadfast in our prayer life and our devotion to Him enriches our lives here on earth with His closeness.
From My Heart to Yours,