If You Need to Remember the Great I AM

**Friends, please welcome my friend, Michele Cushatt, to the blog. She’s just released a new book called I AM: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because Of Who He Is, and I hope for your sake you will go get it. A few things you should know. 1) Michele’s my real life friend, as in we have spent overnight together, shared meals, prayed & cried and regularly text. She’s the Michele in the opening story of my next book, so that’s a fun fact for you. :) 2) I’ve watched her walk through cancer, and she is a wrestler, lover of God, and deep well. Any hard question she will ask herself, first. 3) I endorsed her new book, I AM: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is because it ministered to me and is a tool I can eagerly recommend to my friends to go with your daily Bible reading. So do yourself a favor and get it, today. For real. And I don’t say that often.

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The gift arrived when I least expected it. And when I most needed it.

A small corked jar, no bigger than a thimble. Filled with dozens of yellow-brown mustard seeds, each smaller than the head of a pin.

For months, I’d been struggling with my faith. After too many years of physical pain, I came up for a brief reprieve only to face a vast sea of spiritual pain. For nearly five years, I’d prayed for God to deliver me from cancer and suffering, to restore my life to health and protect my family from further heartache. Beyond my own prayers, thousands of friends and family and strangers offered up theirs. Add it all up and it equaled far more than a thimble jar filled with faith.

Even so, illness and death continued to stalk me. In spite of my pleas, God didn’t seem inclined to intervene.

What about my mustard seed of faith, God? I thought You said it was enough.

With books and Bibles and journals gathered around me, I searched for answers and wrestled with the God I’d always loved. I still loved Him, still believed in Him. I just didn’t understand Him. I didn’t understand His promise of power coupled with His apparent unwillingness to deliver it. We’d prayed. Fasted. Believed promises and memorized Bible verses.

Where was God?

Thus, my friend, Traci, sent mustard seeds. A Matthew 17:20 reminder for the girl who feared her fragile faith and nagging doubts meant she was a terrible Christian after all. With one glance at her thimble-sized jar, I remembered:

It isn’t the size of a girl’s faith but the presence of it that counts.

I wonder if the disciples experienced a similar angst when their best efforts to heal a boy came up short. They’d been given power to heal diseases and cast out demons. By that point, they’d done it enough times to feel a measure of confidence that healing would come once again.

Only it didn’t. No matter how many times they tried. So the boy’s father asked Jesus for help, and Jesus came through. When the disciples asked why their efforts didn’t produce results, Jesus said simply, “Because you have so little faith” (Matt. 17:20).

So little faith?

I’m confused. It seems to me they had far more faith than most.

But the disciples’ shortage of faith wasn’t a lack of belief in the power of God. They knew Jesus was able. They didn’t doubt His reality or capability.

But their expectation wasn’t sourced in relationship. They’d failed to submit their will to the will of their Father. Only there, in full submission, is a mustard seed of faith a powerful mountain- moving thing.

I do not know why some mountains move and others remain firmly in place. I’ve seen people of tall and true faith baffled by God’s lack of response. And I’ve seen people stuck in a mire of doubt and unbelief surprised by a miracle their faith doesn’t seem to deserve.

I know that belief and faith are critical pieces of this spiritual journey to the glory of heaven. But I also know that Jesus believed fully in God’s ability to deliver when He begged for deliverance the night before His death. He had more than a thimble-sized jar of faith, and yet God chose not to move His mountain.

Or, perhaps, His mountain moved after all. In the size and shape of a tomb-sealing stone. In a moment, faith moved it from here to there, and the Son of God walked out, alive.

No, God didn’t move the mountain of His crucifixion. But God moved the mountain of His death in a beautiful resurrection.

I don’t claim to have all the answers, nor can I unravel the mysteries of our unfathomable God. But perhaps the greatest faith, a mountain- moving faith, is one that bends low. One that submits to the will of the Father and allows the power of God to move in ways we wouldn’t have imagined.

In our tiniest mustard seed of faith, we too have access to that kind of power.

When we bow our desires to the plan of a God we love and trust, we have access to a far greater power than we’ve ever known. Resurrection power. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in you and in me. That means when we pray for mountains to move, they move. Sometimes it’s the mountain right in front of us. Other times, it’s the bigger mountain we don’t yet see.

I still pray for healing, hoping God will grant my heart’s desire. I still pray for a body that’s renewed and a life that’s long.

But I also pray those healing prayers on bent knees, knowing God may choose to move a mountain bigger than this one.

Either way, I can trust Him to empower me. Even if all I can muster up is a mustard seed of faith.

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About I AM:

Pulling from her experiences of raising children from trauma, a personal life-threatening illness, and the devastating identity crises that came to her family as a result, Michele creates safe spaces for honest conversations around the tensions between real faith and real life.

The words of Michele’s most recent book — I Am: A 60-day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is—were penned during her long and grueling recovery from a third diagnosis of cancer during which she was permanently altered physically, emotionally and spiritually. In it, she speaks with raw honesty and hard-earned insight about our current identity epidemic and the reasons why our best self-help and self-esteem tools aren’t enough to heal our deepest wounds.

Michele and the love of her life, Troy, live in the mountains of Colorado with their six children, ages 9 to 24. She enjoys a good novel, a long run, and a kitchen table filled with people. Learn more about Michele at michelecushatt.com.

2 Questions to Ask Before Responding on Social Media

 

This world, the recent election, the personal pressure cooker we are all in of fears and family issues and job woes and daily struggle has pushed out some of our ugly, lately.

None of us want it. I hear us, we lament it. Where did that come from, we wonder to ourselves as the ugly seeps through our cracks in late night tweets and Facebook comments.

It hurts us. We hurt. We hurt each other. It all becomes a mess.

For days, maybe weeks, I’ve been holding a lot in. I would like to say I’ve been praying every moment but the truth is, I’ve not been praying enough. Last night, I needed to get off Twitter and pray. But I didn’t. This was my great judgment lapse, and I dare say, where most great online judgment lapses start.

I had enough.

I responded back to a few wild generalizations tweeted about some of the best people I know doing Kingdom work. I spoke firmly, steadily and not out of turn. I refused to fight online – all good things. But I spoke up, for this has always been my bend: to honor my justice meter, fight for the underdog if need be, and yes, regrettably and far less spiritual, to be feisty and mouthy when I feel misrepresented, condescended and wronged. Flesh brings out my southside, and I didn’t even grow up on the southside. God has whispered to me on more than one occasion, Thanks, Lisa. Now how about you let me handle this thing? I’m a scrappy one, I’ll admit.

But even if I’m right. Even if they need to be put in their place. I am to be of higher mindset. We, the Jesus followers, are servants of the most high, and as we face difficult people and conversations we need to remember the message of I Thess. 4:1 to “…live in a way that pleases God.” Tweet in a way that pleases God. Facebook in a way that pleases God. Text in a way that pleases God. That is the only thing. All our right-fighting arguments pale in light of this message.

As I was tempted this morning to respond on social media even further, I was reminded of my own words in my forthcoming book, Put Your Warrior Boots On“Flesh anger is the reaction of things done against us…holy anger is a response to things done against God.” And I was convicted in my flesh, confronted by the Holy Spirit with two questions to ask myself before I did:

1) Is this of offense to me, personally, or an offense to the Gospel?
2) Does God want to use me to speak boldly for Him in this moment or is my flesh needing to learn the discipline of Godly silence?

I want to get it right. I don’t always get it right. Jesus…the Kingdom of God and what is at stake is worth getting it right. Fighting for me can’t be in this, no matter how right I may feel.

The only way to know the answer to either question? Prayer. For discernment and wisdom. Otherwise, it’s tough to know the difference.

In this loud and ugly time on social media, these are the things God is speaking to me. Trusting they might also have some value for you.

Onward and forward. Only offended for the Gospel. We can do this, friends. We love Jesus enough.

 

 

 

 

p.s. I love you.