Tuesday, November 17, 2015

When Faith feels like Failure

Sometimes our journey with God feels completely right.

I mean things can be difficult and falling out of place but still you know that your path is sure and chosen by God.

Other times we look around and wonder where in the world we took the trap door to nowhere.

We find ourselves in a place completely unfamiliar and strange.  No real entrance or exit.  We are just there.

Our first thought or reaction is to go back and trace every thought~ every decision that must have landed us here.

Welcome to our world of late.

Here we sit.

We couldn't have predicted our path.  In some ways we couldn't have even chosen it.  It seems very much that it was chosen for us.  Yet, humanly speaking, it feels as foreign as another country.

Learning to follow God is a humbling experience.

I am not so sure that our purpose here is to serve and love the Lord in the midst of many, many questions.

He has used the process of elimination in our lives to place us exactly where we are.

Closing doors until only one remains.

It has taken me almost a week to figure out that we would not have come to this place any other way.

I have thought about my heroes of the faith and how they must have felt when God used this exact method in their lives.

Moses stood in front of the Red Sea. 

He had just led millions of Israelites out of captivity.  Chosen by God to be the man. Now the Egyptian army was closing in fast.

Moses found himself out of options...save one.
(that whole process of elimination thing)

A sea. 

Can you just place yourself at the scene?

Women and children crying.  Men shouting. The stench of ocean air, animals, sweat and adrenaline hanging in the air.  A sea of water in front of you and a sea of desperate people behind you. Looking to you.  Waiting.

To make matters worse an angry army is closing in.  You can hear the chariots in the distance.  The Pharaoh has shaken off his grief temporarily and wants his slaves back. 

God says to Moses, "Use your shepherd's staff- hold it out over the water, and a path will open up before you through the sea.  Then all the people of Israel will walk through on dry ground." (Ex. 14:16)

For a brief moment...I wonder if Moses felt like a failure?

Each endeavor required faith.

Hearing the voice of God in a burning bush~
Answering the call to go to Egypt~
Making demands before the Pharaoh~
Enduring 10 heartbreaking plagues~

He had been obedient to the Lord.
He had led the Israelites out of slavery.

Whew.  He could breathe easy now.

Surely the rest of this would be a piece of cake, right?!?

God would lead them to safety and comfort.

No more BIG faith leaps...

I wonder if his thoughts wavered like my own.

He had led these people out of slavery and now they faced certain death.  Unless.....

Unless he raised his staff.

Unless God came though.

Unless God performed some miracle and created a dry path through water....can that even happen??

Moses (a man...flesh and blood) probably stood there thinking I am about to raise this staff. 

And look stupid.

But he did it anyway.

There was no other choice.

Foolish or not he either trusted God or he didn't.

I could take time and discuss other heroes of mine.  Daniel.  Esther.  Elijah.  Paul. Abraham. Joseph.

They found themselves in curious situations.  Chosen for them.

God eliminated easy outcomes and left them all with one scary one.

Each one had to demonstrate a faith that felt like utter failure.  Beyond feeling like failure it even looked like failure.

And yet...God had placed them there.

I have been following Jesus for quite some time. My husband and I know better than to make any decision without praying about it first.

Even with prayerful decisions and leaps of faith...it can still feel like failure.

On purpose.

The only option left is trust.

God's way or no way.

Raise the staff in faith (just as Moses did) and wait. 

With heart pounding and shortness of breath...your eyes dart across the water looking for something you have never seen.

And just when you think that is impossible....a path opens.

Friday, November 6, 2015


(Because this post concerns another family...their permission was given.)

The word furious has a couple of definitions that seem to fit me at this particular time.
The first definition means exactly what you think it does, "full of or characterized by extreme anger; raging."

The second definition we know but we use it less often, "full of intensity, energetic or fierce."

I am both.

I have promised to be real before God and anyone that takes the time to read my words.

Two nights ago we, like so many others, received word that a precious 11 year old in our church was very very sick. Again.

This child has battled one form of cancer for the past year.  
After numerous rounds of chemo, lots of sickness, sleepless nights, and countless doctor visits... a clear scan showed that she was cancer free.

Our entire church breathed a sigh of huge relief and glorious praise to God.

In the past few weeks I have grinned as I have seen her hair begin to grow back and the color of life return to her gorgeous cheeks.

Only 2 nights ago this family was hit again.


A different form of cancer.  Potentially one caused by the treatment that was used for the other has now attacked her body.

What was hoped to be an initial check for strep throat at the doctor showed much more.

White blood cell count was up.  Way up.

There was swelling.  

Something was very wrong.

Tests were run.  Prayers were prayed.  

Wednesday morning came with gloomy gray skies and a sickening report.  

Acute Myeloid Leukemia

All I can say is that I, like so many others, are furious.

Raging anger.  The helpless kind.

This family has been through the hell of one cancer.  Now they must walk through another...more aggressive more complex cancer.

I am angry.
These parents are angry.
Her sister is angry.
Our church is angry.

Is that even ok?

By the authority of God's Word I say yes it is.

Think of the 4 friends that carried their brother on a mat and lowered him through the roof to get to Jesus. (Mark ch.2)

Think of the woman with the issue of bleeding for 12 years that pushed her way through just to somehow grab the hem of clothing worn by Jesus. (Luke ch.8)

Think about Jarius as he came to get Jesus and bring him back to heal his dying daughter. Mark chapter five says that he fell at Jesus feet and begged him.

These were real live people.  Full of emotion and weaknesses just like me. They had doubts.  They questioned.  They were exhausted and weary.

No one can tell me that there was not an inherent anger toward the direness of their circumstances.  To say that there wasn't would be less than human.

Appropriate anger dispels apathy.

Fury can birth a fervent heart of faith.

It moves us to action.  

The blessing that I see in my anger is the immediate effect is has had on my prayer life and my faith.

I am engaged and active.

As the second definition describes, I am "full of intensity and energy."  There is suddenly a fierceness to my faith in this situation.

To our great detriment we believers have fallen for the lie that we cannot be angry AND be in the presence of God.

Being furious doesn't mean I lack faith.

Where else do we go??

Let me argue that anger, sorrow, indignation, and fierce passion are usually the only emotions that WILL push us to the brink of desperation.

 Desperate people need a place to go. 

 They need a place to speak the unspeakable.  They need a place to wail and cry and smash something. They need to ask questions even if silence is the only answer. They need permission to lay aside polite etiquette and be the mess that they are. 

God in heaven tells us of  such a place made for us. And a Person that yearns to meet us there.

 He made provision for us through Jesus Christ to come just as we are.

To this place I run.  I won't ever stop....

He meets me there.  He wipes my tears.  He groans with me.  He holds me up and lifts my head.

"...we have a great High Priest who has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God. Let us cling to him and  never stop trusting him.  This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come BOLDLY to the throne of our gracious God. There we WILL receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when  we need it most." Hebrews 4:14-16

Quit worrying about your anger.  That is only a distraction from the enemy to keep you from running to God.

Is it ok?
Is it too much?
Is it appropriate?

Instead run to the throne.  Help is found.  Burdens are taken. Grace is given.

This throne of grace can be any place that you can breathe the name of Jesus.  

On Wednesday the parents of this dear child and myself found ourselves approaching the throne together in a conference room on the floor in the AFLAC wing of the children's hospital. 

A fresh diagnosis brought forth a very fresh desperation.  

We had few words.  A lot of anger.  A lot of fear.  More questions than we wanted to admit.  Restlessness.  Frustration.  Weariness.  Anxiety.

.........And the tiniest mustard seed of faith..............

We bowed our heads.  Bent our knees.  Breathed His name.  The only name.  We cried out to Jesus.

 Just a couple of pics so you and visualize the angel we are praying for....this was taken last year when she spent the night at our house.

Oh God we are furious.  We don't understand.  We desperately need you to intervene.  Would you heal this sweet child for the glory of Your Name.  Be nearer to them than you ever have been. Strengthen their bodies.  Give rest to their minds.  In the name of Jesus flood them with boundless hope and fresh faith.  Surround them with Your Presence and protect them from  the enemy that wishes to steal and destroy their faith.  We stand with them begging You for a miracle.  Knowing You hear us.  We wait in expectation Lord.  Amen.