July 3, 2014


 I’m convinced that probably 95% of our struggles originate from a lack of trusting God. Of course I cannot prove this and all I can go on is my own life experience and what I’ve observed from people I have encountered.  But this seems to be the common thread and I’m pretty certain that I’m right about this.

You’d think after a lifetime of seeing God provide, protect, touch, bless and guide my life that I’d trust Him. But it’s when the storms hit that you really find out what your faith is made of.  We’ve all heard it said that when you go through hard times you find out who your real friends are. Well there’s just nothing that tests a relationship like trouble. There was one particular time when my relationship with God was tested like never before when I walked through a storm that pulled the rug out from under me and left me hurt and angry for a long, long time. I did everything I knew to do and that had worked before- forgive, seek God, repent, pray, fast, repeat… But nothing got better and for the first time ever, I feared for my faith and God didn’t seem to be helping the situation with His silence and seeming distance. I was confused and depressed. I felt my heart growing away but God didn’t seem to be doing one thing to stop it.  I wrote this to Him one day:

So what's wrong God? It must be with me. But I'm trying. It's not like I don’t care. I really want to be close to You. Since You're invisible I can't exactly rely on my natural senses to see, hear and touch You. I have to rely on my spirit to see and hear You. So is my spirit shut down? Has it been so damaged by all this that it's just gone into hibernation? Is my body just going through the motions of Christianity while my spirit takes a break and tries to heal? I just don’t know.

I just didn’t know. I realize not everyone will relate to this or see the significance of my doubt; especially if you weren’t raised in church or are new to the whole Christianity thing . But from one who was in church as soon as my mom was released from the maternity ward, I can say-I know this stuff.  Or so I thought. I’ve predominantly and sincerely done the Christian thing the majority of my life except for a few years in my teens when I backslid. And when I did finally return to God, I set my face towards Him and I never looked back. That was almost 30 years ago.  Life hasn’t been easy, don’t get me wrong. We’ve had our share of struggles and failures. But I can honestly say, I’ve not once doubted that I’d stick it out- until this particular storm.

It’s funny the things that break each of us; the particular trigger-point that will, in one moment, set in motion the destruction of the fortress within that took a lifetime to build. What might be the undoing of me probably wouldn’t faze you and vice versa. But this particular trial did a number on me. I didn’t know what I could trust anymore. Because for the first time, the stuff I’d always known didn’t seem to be working.

Now if I’d been counseling someone in my situation I know I would have asked them- “Have you forgiven? Are you spending time with the Lord? Have you thought about fasting? Are you in the Word? Are you spending time in praise and worship?” And those are all very good questions and good counsel. I’d have probably prayed with them and more than likely I would have told them to hang in there (and would have undoubtedly quoted-“having done all, stand!”). I’d have exhorted them to trust, reassured them of God’s love, and I would have shared that discouragement is one of the enemy’s biggest weapons. I’d have told them to guard their minds and to speak words of life. Again- these are all the truth.  (See I told you. I know this stuff. )

But not gonna lie- if someone had tried that with me then, I’d have probably punched them in the throat. I could have written a book I knew this stuff so well- yet there I was, knowing all that, and still depressed and disillusioned.

But it’s here I discovered something I don’t think I could have learned any other way- for truth to do us any good, sometimes we have to walk through the fire to get it. It can’t be second-hand information, even handed down from trusted people. It has to be our own or it has no real power for us. I’m not suggesting that we stop speaking truth to others (for fear of being throat punched) or from listening to truth when we'd rather roll our eyes. For 'one sows, one waters but only God gives the increase'. Even a half-hearted seed can change a life…But there are just some things that can only be learned through experience; especially if you’ve heard it all before.

During this storm I kept praying, I kept fasting, I kept forgiving and I kept reading the word.  One day when I was having a cosmic meltdown at the kitchen table my husband spoke words that finally penetrated my “heard it all” heart. It was simple but he said- “Honey, this is a trial. The Bible talked about this. Right now you are like that tree on the riverbank the Bible talks about. It’s a drought and you aren’t getting water in the usual way. Your roots are having to go deep to find the water.  You may not feel very spiritual or close to God right now but you haven’t left and neither has He. You’re still seeking Him. You haven’t quit. Not quitting IS winning. It won’t always be like this. Its building strength.” And I promise I didn’t punch him. I guess I was ready to hear it then. Maybe, just maybe during all those dry boring prayer times God HAD heard me. Maybe just maybe, He would bring good from this storm I was in. Now I don’t for a second think God created the storm. Never once in the Bible do you hear Jesus causing a storm. Rather, He always quieted the storms He encountered. But He CAN and He DOES bring good out of the worst things. Just as storms can test relationships, I found that they can also strengthen them.

There came a moment where the Lord clearly showed me that I had a trust issue. I needed to put it all into His hands and to let it go. (Cue the Frozen soundtrack). Sounds like an anticlimactic revelation but it was exactly what I needed to hear. I’m used to fixing things and I couldn’t fix this.  There was a moment when that reality sunk in and I’d never felt more helpless. But then the revelation came that helpless isn’t hopeless. Helpless is saying- I cannot help this situation. I cannot even help myself. I have to let it go. I had to trust God to handle what I could not control. Like what was I thinking anyway? That I could do a better job than Him? As easy as it may sound, really letting go and putting it into His hands was one of the hardest things I'd ever had to do.

I found that forgiveness also involved trust- trusting that God had a plan and nothing or no one was going to thwart that. I’m reminded of Joseph in the Bible. His brothers betrayed him and tried to remove him from his place of favor and influence and in their efforts to harm him and his destiny they actually placed him in a position to be of much greater influence than even Joseph himself could have imagined. We know the end of the story. But when Joseph was in the middle of this trial, he didn't. Yet while in prison, during his storm, he trusted that God still was in control and God had his future in His hands and that He alone was responsible for bringing it to pass. His brothers couldn’t stop God’s plan. Nothing could stand in God’s way. So when the time came Joseph was able to forgive them. They hadn’t harmed him, they had actually helped him. Forgiveness is saying, on the unresolved side of the story, 'God they did me wrong, and it looks like they ruined everything, but I am trusting You to not only bring me through this but to still fulfill Your promise in a greater way because of it. ' Only trust can say something like that.

Its an obvious fact that if we don’t stop but keep going, at some point we won’t be where we were but we’ll end up somewhere else. At the risk of sounding formulaic (that really is a word. Look it up) I kept seeking, kept asking, sometimes just going through the motions and kept at it until I walked myself out of the valley I was in.

And here’s the other side of the coin of this tale- Just as I believe probably 95% of our problems come through not trusting God  (disclaimer: these percentages are not scientifically verified). I also believe that the solution to 95% of our problems is a revelation encounter with the love of God.  Think about it- if we know God loves us… okay lets stop a moment…. God… GOD…. The Uncreated One who created uh me and uh this earth and uh the universe etc etc LOVES me. Loves ME! Can we pause and take that in for a moment? Can you not see how the revelation of that should make us the most secure people in the entire universe? And since most issues we face involve things like insecurity, doubt, confusion, depression, fear and shame… would any of that remain if we truly trusted God? How can we not trust someone who loves us? Loves us so much to send His only Son who He really really likes a whole lot to die in our place? No matter how awesome I think you are, I sure wouldn’t give up any of my children for you. Sorry. And you wouldn’t for me either. Yet I would lay down my life for my children. Why? Because I love them more than anything. More than my own life. And that’s what God did. I don’t understand all the reasons behind why Jesus had to die but I do know that it means He loves us a lot. Wow. That’s a whole heck of a lotta love. And the revelation of that life-changing love is the solution to everything.

Now there have been seasons where God was as close as my thoughts and I felt His presence and pleasure all day long. But just like in the natural, weather patterns change and sometimes storms come. It doesn’t mean God sent them our way. But they do come. It’s inevitable. God DOES NOT change but the storms we go through can alter the landscape in us. Like after a tornado passes through an area we may find that the terrain has become unrecognizable. The old familiar paths have been washed away. Some of those paths needed washing away. Others probably didn't and will need to be rebuilt. After this storm passed through me I felt like I found myself at ground zero of my faith. It was bare bones but it was finally real and honest. Nobody looking, no religion, just me and God were left. And now I know that God hadn’t gone anywhere. I guess it's not really faith if we only believe when we see and understand. Its those roots, stretching deeper than they'd ever been required before to go to find that water and becoming more grounded and secure as a result.

Before this storm blew through and dislodged so many things, there was a lot that I thought I knew that I realize now I really didn't know at all. But when the dust settled there remained some things I found that I did know and I DO know.  I know that He is true, I know that He is God and I know that I am His. I still believe His ways are right and best and for my good, even when it doesn't make sense.  And although I may not always follow or understand, I DO know that He loves me and HE IS totally, truly and completely good.  And there will be moments in our lives when that’s the only star left in the sky to navigate from. But I believe that’s enough and in time it will lead us home.

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders 
 Let me walk upon the waters 
 Wherever You would call me 
 Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander 
 And my faith will be made stronger 
 In the presence of my Savior"