Progress on Display

29861Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it. Faith is the reason we remember great people who lived in the past. It is by faith we understand that the whole world was made by God’s command so what we see was made by something that cannot be seen. (Hebrews 11:1-3)

I was in 4-H when I was young. 4-H is a youth organization that focuses on developing citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills. When it began, its focus was primarily agriculture. It has expanded greatly over the years. When I was in 4-H, most the kids were involved in farming in some way (but then again, most the people in my community were involved in farming in some way).

Summer was a time of field work, county fairs, and 4-H work. Whatever projects we’d chosen for the year were put on display at the county fair. In many cases, it was crop samples. There was also sewing, food, photography, crafts, and much more. A lot of time usually went into the 4-H projects. There was often a lot of frustration, too. I chose dog care one year. All of our dogs ran around the farm with little discipline. They were great dogs but not obedience school stars if you get the idea. I took my beagle to 4-H-sponsored obedience classes, and we both survived, but I’m not sure either of us learned much.

Weeks passed, and I had to take him to the dog show to be judged. He was supposed to not only show discipline but good grooming and care as well. Our dogs were always well cared for in terms of lots of exercise and love, but grooming? Well, that wasn’t exactly a priority on the farm. The day before the dog show, I gave my “project” a bath. He was looking pretty good. The problem was our dogs ran free on the farm, which meant my clean dog was anything but clean the following day as the time drew near for the dog show. He had decided to take what I could only guess was an extensive midnight run in the woods, and he showed up at the house covered in dirt, burrs, and ticks. My project didn’t exactly turned out as pristine as I had hoped!

Sometimes the results of our efforts aren’t exactly what we prefer. But when the time comes, our results are on display. 4-H displays came only once a year, and we could prepare for them. Displays of our faith are on display at all times. People see evidence of our faith in our daily lives.

What evidence of faith are people around you seeing today?

We’re not always going to get a “superior” rating or a blue ribbon. In fact, let’s hope we don’t! We want to excel for God, but we need to do so in authenticity, not in performance only. We want to see others’ authentic progress and even learn from their mistakes because seeing the reality of struggles and triumphs gives us hope. On the other hand, we tend to want to disguise and hide our own mistakes and struggles. We only want to show the positive progress of our faith. It’s not all uphill, and we might as well accept it and do life side-by-side in ways that we can learn from each other through the messes of life.

4-H was organized into clubs that met on a monthly basis. We shared what we were doing by scheduling talks and demonstrations. Our meetings invited accountability and relationship-building. We also worked on service projects with each other and had a lot of fun throughout the year. I wouldn’t have learned nearly as much in 4-H had I tried to do it on my own.

It’s the same with your faith. God has no intention of you living a life of faith on your own. Commit to community, where you can share the ups and downs of the progress of your faith.

Let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, because we have been made free from a guilty conscience, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold firmly to the hope that we have confessed, because we can trust God to do what he promised. Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds. You should not stay away from the church meetings, as some are doing, but you should meet together and encourage each other. Do this even more as you see the day coming. (Hebrews 10:22-25)

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