My last post examined the idea behind why the mysterious things of God are sometimes revealed and other times not, but why they are always a worthy pursuit for His child. Day 9 part 2 below:
Embracing the mystery Part 2
At some point most of us have played the B side of the life’s unfair anthem. “Why me-How can this be?” We’ve done our best but things are not working out as planned. We prepared for a sprint but arrived at the starting line of a marathon. The stress settles like surprise on a hurt child waiting for his parent’s reaction. It’s a moment when “Why me?” is all we can ask – and that is okay! But how long we continue to ask determines the difference between moving a mountain and digging a hole.
What does God want for me –from this?
I’d been wrestling the WHY of my financial meltdown for 18 months. It took a decade to build my ark and load up the family, but only a minute to blow it up and sink the pieces. Job’s friends have come straight out of scripture and gathered around me to explain things. But all I hear is a chorus of bill collectors who do not care about the WHY.
Back to the A side “If I don’t fix it nobody will” – I suppose it’s time to change the record and put on a new song. But with a million-something in debt and very little income, the first thing that comes to mind is bankruptcy, not faith. That bothers me, but it makes more sense than living in bondage the next 40 years. Working the rest of my life at an average job is a blessing, but not a solution. When you’re circumstance appears to be a life sentence you stop looking for the door and mistakenly try the window. You either give up or take matters into your own hands.
Many of us are the facing a double edged struggle. One side is the immediate pain the other is the monstrous task of removing it. Rejoice! The potential for growth is enormous, but look both ways carefully before crossing. We run the risk of adopting an incomplete faith, a flexible faith where small victories disguise the overall solution.
An immediate pain (an unmet need) requires immediate faith. There is no time to anguish over the “why”-Praise God! I can’t express how refreshing it has been these last few weeks to see God reach into our lives and meet our daily needs. It hasn’t been easy but we’ve learned to believe that HE IS just ahead, waiting on us to SEEK HIM (instead of our rent payment). Hope deferred make the heart sick, but hope in the wrong direction makes it die. We stopped asking for our needs to be met, and began asking for God to reveal Himself to us. When we had no money for groceries, taking our eyes off those basic needs was tough! But Matthew 6:33 isn’t a suggestion it’s a way of life.
A distant need, on the other hand, is easier to avoid (unfortunately). My overwhelming debt like any mountain looks smaller from a distance. The further away I hold it the smaller it looks. The rub is that it will always remain directly in my path. The only way to keep my distance is to either stand still, or go backwards. But it amounts to just shoveling dirt when it’s really time to plant that mustard seed.
Can you hear the bell ringing?
When we set out to walk in faith God prepares us for absolute victory! His strength is perfected in our weakness, so exposing it COMPLETELY is absolutely necessary. If He tells me that faith can move a mountain, my job is to embrace it and act on it! If instead I try to climb over, hike around or even tunnel through it, I’m arrogantly trading His solution for my own, and leaving blind spots in my faith. We trust Him to feed us and keep us off the street but there is so much more.
This is where flexible faith assigns a lifetime of bondage to many soft hearted believers. We are learning to consider the birds of the air but ignoring where they nest (a mustard tree). We’re living by faith for our daily needs, but forgetting that a mountain is moved by the faith of a seed (mustard to be exact). Maybe the enemy was passing out humble pins in the midst of our small victories. I think one is stuck on my lapel, because I’ve forgotten that I’m not God, and only He can “UN”RING a bell.
Over the river & through the woods – back to the WORD we go.
So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
What a masterfully efficient illustration of the power behind faith. Yet on the surface I find that verse encouragingly discouraging. It’s great to know this can be done but how? How do we make this real? What exactly is “mustard seed” faith? Can it be tangibly quantified? If moving a mountain is our benchmark, does anyone really have this kind of faith? Or should it remain just a lofty goal to keep us aiming high? What is your perspective?
My perspective has been stuck in at-a-glace mode for many moons. Like a kid, I really do want to know! But like an adult, I’m burned out and think “who cares” (sometimes). Never the less, before I could encourage others to embrace the mystery (as defined in the last post) I had to put it into practice myself. So instead of marveling over this verse another minute or pretending it doesn’t matter another week, I decided to REALLY ASK God about it.
I went in my prayer closet and set up base camp around that mountain (the one He said I could move). I sought His face and reminded Him of Jeremiah 33:3. I told Him I already knew what the verse meant to most (still wearing the humble pin), but I wanted to know what it FULLY meant to Him. After a few expeditions into my closet He spoke! And believe it or not, here’s what He said:
Two guys sitting on two rocks two hundred year ago.
One says to the other “anything is possible!”
The other guy responds “what do you mean?”
The first guy says “MAN CAN FLY”.
The second guy says “NOT POSSIBLE!”
That was all He said specifically. But He impressed it upon my heart in a way that has meaning and connection to Matthew 17:20. So here’s what I learned:
The guy who said “it’s not possible” imagined that the only way a man could fly would be to literally become a bird. But fast forward 200 years and not only CAN man fly, he flies faster and more efficiently than any bird ever dreamed – even up to 25,000 MPH (space shuttle). He still doesn’t look like a bird.
Faith sleeps in the comfort of our own understanding. In order to wake it up, we have to pull up the shades and get it of bed. But the tiny seed in that verse casts a mighty shadow across the bedroom window. My own faith gets lost behind it and goes right back to bed. (Why me? or I’ll fix it myself!)
From that point of view, Matthew 17:20 seems to be placing the weight of that mountain squarely on top of us – our faith (effort). And the only way out from underneath it is by that effort (seemingly). It’s a heavy load that crushes what little faith we have. As a kid you energetically agree and exhaust your mind trying to meet that standard. As an adult you just apathetically agree and resign yourself to the utter impossibility of it all. Either way defeat is the only end (apparently).
But God was saying something different to me. He was saying LOOK BEYOND the obvious and be encouraged! You don’t have to be a bird to fly and a small seed is more than a just a measurement of faith. It is the substance of faith containing life’s hidden potential, and the mountain is nothing but a big dead rock. Faith is a seed just as a seed is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 A seed has a Harvard degree in faith and it will rise to the top the industry if we’ll stop shoveling dirt and just plant it.
Jesus was telling His disciples (and us) to take our focus off the size of the obstacle – it matters not. In other words, the verse is not just about size but about power. The power of life held in a tiny seed will overcome the power of death the size of a mountain. Real faith sees this potential – the life hidden in the seed. In context – the disciples could not heal the boy because they were focused on the size of the obstacle instead of the power of faith. Matthew 17:14-20
Recap: Are we seeking intimacy with God, or just striving to be obedient?
Are we moving mountains or just digging holes? Let’s go after the mysteries of God, though it may remain a mystery, it will always reveal the person of God! And sometimes, the person of God will reveal the mystery! Let’s get intimate with God by giving logic the cold shoulder and running after Him instead! Be assured He is waiting just ahead, around the next corner, ready to embrace us. Jeremiah 29:12-13
Prayer of rejoicing:
Father we praise you today! We welcome you into our hearts and trade our sorrows for Joy. We give you our past and the crushing weight of our inescapable consequence. We trade in the friend’s of job, for a family who spurs us to seek after you instead of your blessings. Hide from us Lord that we might get up and chase after you! Give us more of you and reveal your mysteries to the humble. In Jesus name we submit and trust, Amen.
On a personal note:
We have rejoicing to do as God has provided some much needed work for me. It will sustain us yet another few weeks and even months. I have been away from writing (as often) in order to pay the bills. But in that time God has filled my heart with fresh inspiration for continuing this blog. He is teaching us so much! My hope is that He’ll give me the time to write it down AND pay the bills! Much more to come!
As we received news of my work project, we went to the convenient store and celebrated with a round of ICEEs. My wife love’s her ICEEs! It sounds so trivial, but there have been more than a few days where buying a 99 cent drink was impossible for us. There are many of you who are suffering through the same trials, or worse. We are here for you! This blog is for you! Share your thoughts – let’s encourage one another. Allow us to walk with you and pray specifically for you. If there are things you would like to discuss or see on the blog, let me know, and pray that God will continue to Wake Up All Of Our Faith!
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