If faith were easy

"Mountains are moved with faith, Immaculee, but if faith were easy, all the mountains would be gone."

I just finished "Left to Tell", a book about one women's story through the Rwandan Holocaust. As she sat cramped in a small bathroom with 7 other ladies, she began to hear her killers searching the bedroom on the other side of the door. A single wardrobe was all that stood in front of the door. Any movement or breathing might alert the search party to where she was hiding. "I have killed 399 cockroaches, Immaculee will make 400. It's a good number to kill." What do you do when your enemies are surrounding you on all sides? You are trapped with your back against the wall and paralyzed from fear. You hardly want to pray in fear that they may hear your thoughts and know where you are.

As Immaculee began to pray, she envisioned Jesus standing in front of her; and that is what he had to say. "Mountains are moved with faith, Immaculee, but if faith were easy, all the mountains would be gone." Is that the response we would expect? Wouldn't we want Jesus to just look at us and say everything will be ok? Instead he tells her that this will be hard, but it had to be that way.

I haven't been able to get that line out of my head after putting that book down. What does that mean in my life? The odds that I will have to face any situation even closely related to what Immaculee experienced is extremely slim, and I thank God for that. Yet it is so inspiring and incredible to hear of stories when people literally entrusted their entire life over to Jesus, and simply waited for Him to carry them to whatever lay ahead. Whether that meant death or life.

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

I think we so often read that verse and expect that if we say we are Christians, we must be able to move mountains. And when that doesn't happen for us (which as far as I know has yet to happen) we get upset because we feel that God is backing off on his end of the deal. But where does it say that faith is easy. It doesn't say that being a Christian and having faith are the same thing. Saying you believe in Jesus doesn't mean that you fully trust in Jesus. And if we only need faith as small as a mustard seed, then we must really be confused on what this whole faith thing is all about.

I know that I sometimes get caught in the trap of thinking, "well I'm not faced with difficult situations like the millions of people in Rwanda, so how am I supposed to develop a faith like Immaculee." Although God says that our faith will be purified by fire, He never says that all fires are the same.

"Left to Tell" also showed me what true forgiveness is. After Immaculee returned home, she received the news that both of her parents and two of her three brothers were killed in the genocide. The only brother left was studying in Senegal at the time and avoided the war. When Immaculee finally comes face to face with the man responsible for the killings of her family, he is unable to lift his head and meet her eyes, ashamed of what he had done. He was being held in a prison and Immaculee had all control in her hands, able to say whatever she needed to to the man. And how does she respond, "I forgive you." I read about how we are taught to forgive both our friends and enemies in the bible. And although I would like to believe that I would be able to do that, I read Immaculee's story and can't stop thinking of how I might have reacted.

"…if faith were easy…"

And then I got thinking; well faith is easy when you can hear God talking to you and you can see Him guiding you ahead. Too much of the time I expect that when I ask God for an answer, he will respond to me. But that would make faith easy. That's not how God intended things to be. This is meant to be a struggle. Our relationship with Him is meant to be marvelous and beautiful, simplistic and pure, yet hard and trusting as well. God will always be there to pull us out of the pits we fall in, but what if we get stuck in a rut of expecting Him to always act this way. What if we are meant to lean on Jesus? What if we had to place our trust in Him, rather than wait for Him to save us from our falls? But how do we trust?

After Jesus spoke to Immaculee in the bathroom, He continued on to say this:

"Trust in me, and know that I will never leave you. Trust in me, and have no more fear. Trust in me, and I will save you. Trust in me, and you shall live."

How do we do that? It seems so easy; everything will be fine as long as we trust in You. But I think I'm learning quickly that trust is much more than I ever imagined. This semester has brought with it plenty of bumps in the road. And as each one comes, I have to constantly remember that I will not be able to scale even the smallest hill. For me that used to be scary, because I used to associate trusting in God to giving Him all control. And although I believe that God is still in control of everything happening around me, I am now recognizing that I still have to act on what God is putting around me.

It gets you thinking. Or at least it got me thinking. I would really recommend you find a copy of the book and read it. Reading has never been my biggest thing, yet I finished this book in one sitting. Every now and then God seems to make some things more clear than others, and that's how I felt with this book. I'm beginning to see that God wants to use me. I can feel Him tugging on me, opening my eyes to the world around me. There's many things in this world that I have no idea are taking place, yet God sees each and every one of them. That's why our experiences are so important, those are the moments when God takes us and shares a new realm of His kingdom to us. God is entrusting us to take this new knowledge, this new sight, and share it to those around us. When God provides us with a new set of eyes, we need to take advantage of that opportunity. This is God's kingdom, His beloved creation. We are an integral part of everything around us and God wants us to experience as much as we can.

Peace Rains

As I woke up this morning, the trees outside my window were beginning to lose their leaves. I sat there in bed and watched as the yellow leaves slowly landed on the grass beneath them. Sometimes I forget to just sit and watch the peace around me. I sometimes feel like God has done such awesome things in this world around me, yet it's all so complex and bigger than me that I easily get caught up in this whirlwind. Why is it so hard for us to recognize and act upon the peaceful things God has placed around us? Maybe it's not so hard for others.

I think too much of the time we find ourselves trying to find answers. In Australia, I spent some time talking with a few of the elders of an aboriginal community. We sat around a fire and they explained the difference between white men and aboriginals. They told me that white men are always trying to box everything around them up in order to find answers to those things. However aboriginals believe that answers will come with time, and there is therefore no reason to ask questions. When the time is right, answers will be presented to you. When the elders said this, a few of the people around the fire acted as if this was such a pointless approach to life. The elders saw this through their facial expressions and responded by saying "If you believe, you believe; if you don't, you don't."

And I got to wondering, week after week these aboriginal men encounter new white people traveling around the continent, and I'm sure that they receive the same response from each group. Yet they never question or get defensive about their way of thought, they simply share their experiences and thoughts. They were at peace with what was around them. Be that nature or people or God.

I haven't found that kind of peace since I've been back in the US. What was it about that culture that brought along such a peace?

The next day we traveled to Jim Jim Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in Australia, and this is what I wrote in my journal:

    "Massive boulders line the rock walls. Green life arising in between the cracks. The water flows quietly underneath the rocks, as if they weren't even there. Butterflies and other insects find shade among the rocks. And in the back, the water falls. The sound of the falling water crashing into the lake blends into the background. The rock walls that the water trickles over are painted tan and black, the colors dripping into one another. The tiny pools formed around the rocks ripple toward the shore. Even the rocks themselves have a story to tell. The lines on each one are like the wrinkles on an old man's face, hiding secrets and stories within them. As I sit on these rocks, I feel like I'm waiting to hear their story. And all along man walks on by, just another place on their checklist of places to see. Yeah they see the beauty, but do they take the time to appreciate it. One day sitting near the falls or even a few pictures of the area are not enough to understand this place. There is history here, majesty and power, secrets that God has hidden among the nature. This is aboriginal."

When you sit beneath water trickling towards you from 700 feet above, it's hard not to feel small. It's hard not to sit in awe. It's hard not to feel the peace raining over you. To aboriginals, this isn't just another tourist attraction, this is home. This is where God has placed them. This is what He has entrusted them with, to look after and tell its story.

What has God entrusted with? We spend too much of our time pushing forward and seeking after the next new thing. What if we sat back in our bed, watched as the leaves fell, and listened for what God was telling us. Watched for what he was giving us. Treasure that which with we've been given. Has God buried His treasure and we are left with the task of finding it? Or is He holding it out in His hands and waiting for us to grasp hold of it? We make things too complicated most of the time. We have too many questions.

His creation is here and waiting to be experienced.

God is here and waiting to be experienced.

...but God's purpose prevails

Proverbs 19:21

We humans keep brainstorming options and plans,
but God's purpose prevails.

This verse got passed onto me in an email recently and it’s been on mind ever since. Sometimes I feel like God has entrusted all of this stuff to me and it’s therefore my responsibility to plan out and watch over everything. And although there is some truth in that, Proverbs 19:21 opened my eyes to show me that regardless of what we scheme up and create, none of it will have any meaning unless it is a part of God’s plan. I know I get caught quite frequently brainstorming, and to be honest, that’s one of my favorite things about me. But how often do I sit back and wonder how my plans are tied into God’s plans? I think the easy answer for me sometimes is to just assume that God has this grand master plan and if it’s all laid out already, then it really doesn’t matter what I do because it’s all going to work out regardless. And that therefore leads to me forgetting to talk to God about stuff. I go along scheming and planning and every now and then, I look back and hope to see that what I’ve done is pleasing to God.

But what if I stopped looking back at what I’ve done, and rather looked ahead. And before the brainstorming begins, before my plans begin to fall together, I look to Jesus and see what He has to say about things.

As some of you know, my thesis project has been in the works for the past semester. And it seems like each day something new pops up and surprises me. And I am so quick to jump at grand ideas and projects, simply because that’s how I’ve always done things. And at first, when there was only one option presented to me, I went full steam at it. Because I assumed that this awesome thing that was in front of me must be a part of God’s plan. But as the weeks go by, more and more options continue to arise and now I’m left wondering which one is the one that God wants me to pursue. I think God has been trying to teach me to slow down, and come and get advice from Him first.

Most of my life has fallen together so easily that it’s hard not to look back on it and think that God was leading everything. And it’s not just that things have been easy, but that things have always been planned out for me. And all of the sudden, I’m left with trying to make those decisions, and it’s harder than I thought.

At what point do we know when God is giving us the go-ahead on life? When do we know that we’re on board with God?

And maybe we’re not always meant to be on board with God. Maybe those times when we stray, both accidentally and on purpose, are the times when things become clearer. When we start to understand what God has been saying.

Life would be pretty nice if everything was planned out for us and all of those decisions were already taken care of. But life would also be pretty boring. Our God is one who entrusts us to take the next move. He’s not sitting in the backseat whispering every few seconds in our ear which turn to take next. But he is there. And he’s waiting for us to turn to Him to get directions. He’s not going to get mad though if we turn down the wrong road and start heading in a different direction. He’ll just wait patiently in the back until we’re ready to get back on route. And regardless of where we go or how far away we stray, he always knows how to get back. We’re not in this alone. But we need to talk to him about stuff. We can only go so far on our own.

Like? Repost it...