Faithful ‘Til the Finish Line

Editor’s Note: Today, we lost a faithful man. Eugene Peterson was a beloved clergyman, scholar, and author—two of his most notable contributions being The Message paraphrase and A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. This piece was originally published on Bailey Gillespie’s website, so we thought it would be appropriate to resurrect today in honor of him.

When was the last time you felt like giving up?

I think we’d all agree that, more often than not, doing the right thing is synonymous with doing the long thing. And that can be pretty maddening. Although faithfulness is a fruit of the spirit, it’s a less popular one because you can’t always tell when it’s in action. There aren’t any outward signs. And yet, God says on that final day, he will look at us and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:23).

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Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

Editors note: This series was first published at Biblical Counseling Through Song. It is our hope that sharing this journey of heartache and worship with Tom Murphy will be an encouragement to our readers who find themselves in similar situations.

Mayday got its start as an international distress call in 1923. It was made official in 1948. It was an idea of Frederick Mockford, who was a senior radio officer at Croydon Airport in London. He came up with the idea for “mayday” because it sounded like the French word m’aider, which means “help me”. Thank God for the French.

On this first of May—Mayday— I am crying out, “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! Help!

I need help.

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A Blue You Can Wear

I sat alone, for a few minutes at least, in the unlit and uncovered atrium of a church just south of Nashville. I was tired. Exhausted. Worn out in the way that only those introverts who have spent a long day in the welcoming company of dear friends can understand.

I was at a conference with several other Foundling House editors and writers. We had started the day together by leading a panel discussion on the importance and difficulties of being part of a creative community group. Eager faces looked up at us as we started. Pens were poised over notepads, waiting for us to give a simple, easy-to-follow formula that would generate the community we so desperately crave—a community that I also crave. I only wish it was so simple.

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WONDER

In your name everything makes sense. That is an awesome wonder. You created a way for life to work like a well-oiled machine. You intricately designed all the detailed parts to work predictably when operated with the proper fuel. For every misplaced thought, there is a reason. For every curious instance, there is an explanation. I could never understand your mastery, but when I think I’ve grasped a glimpse, my logical brain goes crazy for you.

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On Giving to the Poor

He said he and his mother had just finished at prayer meeting, and somewhere along the way he lost his wallet. He’d already asked a handful of people, all of whom said no.

“Who is so cruel as to leave people stranded after a church meeting?” he said.

He just wanted gas to get home. I had three thin dollars in my wallet, and offered them to him, but he said that wouldn’t get him far enough.

“I’ll Venmo you the money once I get home,” he said, handing me his business card. It had his picture on it, a real estate broker, it said.

“Sure,” I said.

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A Letter to My Past Self

I see you scribbling out words in the bathroom stall, grinning to yourself about the silly thing you’re planning to do. You doubt it will accomplish anything to give a handwritten note to a musician you admire, but you secretly hope that it will. You have no idea if he’ll read this note, or if he’ll consider your idea to add more female voices to the website he and his brother recently launched. You’re feeling nervous about shaking his hand and looking him in the eye as you hand the note to him, but you’re determined to take this risk.

And here I sit, nearly ten years later typing on a laptop at ten o’clock at night, feeling incredibly proud of you. You have no idea how this one little interaction will change your life for the better. You just can’t imagine how many writers and artists and friends you’re going to meet during the next ten years because of this night. You don’t know if this guy will even read your letter, let alone invite you to submit some of your writing for his fans to read. You don’t realize that in a couple of years you’ll be helping plan a conference for this burgeoning community of creative types from all over America and Europe. You can only dream of having your words printed in a book someday, but little do you know that you’re about to take the first step down a path that leads to this very thing.

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A Couple Dozen Kisses

There’s some sort of ruckus in the living room, involving the theft of a beloved toy he hasn’t even been playing with, so I send Kai to his room. All 2.75 years of TNT with scabby knees, and the only thing that comes of it is more explosions. The bangs and screaming aren’t stopping, so I enter in to do damage control.

My second child is a bruise, all funny colors and tender when pressed. This nonsensical, unfair place we call Earth is just too much for him. Me and my peers tend to accept these emotions by crystallizing our skins until we’re more shell than human. The healthiest people I know are those who have either learned to absorb, or haven’t hardened at all. It’s just that if you haven’t hardened at all, everything else is harder.

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