I am standing in the muck right now, spiritual muck. Life got real hard spiritually during the past week. From the outside, everything looks great or at least no different, but from the inside I’m standing in front of a faith mountain pounding my fists against its craggy surface, screaming, “MOVE!!!” But it doesn’t budge.
I’m feeling discouraged, defeated, depressed, wounded, alone. I spent several days last week near tears every second of the day. My heart felt like an albatross around my neck. I had moments of laughter, but the sadness just kind of hung around. The situation grew into a mountain. It was a mountain that I have known was there, but all of a sudden it was very real and very present, and very in my way. A few times my faith mountain even grew into a volcano erupting all over my life. I’ve been praying for this particular mountain for a while, but it hasn’t moved at all. If anything, it has gotten larger recently.
Matthew 17:20 ESV He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
Are you familiar with this verse from Matthew? At first, reading this it felt like an accusation. Do I not have enough faith? Certainly cause to spend some time in my bible and in prayer. Of course, we can always use more faith. The closer we draw to God, the closer He draws to us. The more faith we have, the more faith we get because we see Him move in our lives.
James 4:8a ESV Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
I felt really lost. I didn’t know what to do. I really couldn’t DO anything. Isn’t that just the worst feeling in the world? Feeling upset, angry, depressed, anxious and not being able to DO anything about the situation feels like emotional quicksand. The more I thrash against it, the faster I sink into it. One sad thought leads to another and another. Before I know it, my heart is leaden with anxiety and sorrow. Then my daughter’s memory verse came to mind. (I love how her memory verses have become mine as well. We sing them and learn them together.)
2 Cor 10:5b “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Letting my thoughts run away with me wasn’t going to solve anything. It was only letting worry and anxiety rob me of the truth. So, instead of reacting with my emotions, I prayed for God to be present for me and opened my Bible app.
Psalm 55:22 ESV “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”
Like soothing waters, God placed that verse right on my opening screen as the verse of the day. I needed to read that verse. But my mountain didn’t move. My feelings of being overwhelmed with grief didn’t instantly go away either. But it was a start. A chance to learn that my job is to be righteous and let God hold me up against the attacks in this world.
Isaiah 41:10 ESV Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Then I read all of Psalm 55. David was feeling alone, betrayed by a close confidante, fearful, depressed, but he believed God listened to his cries, that God redeemed his soul in the midst of his battle.
Psalm 55:18 ESV He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me.
God knows we’re fighting a battle. God knows that those closest to us can betray and destroy, but our protection is in Him. God promises us that He is listening to us, planning our victory. Again in Mark, he promises us our mountains are nothing for Him.
Mark 11:23 ESV Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
Awesome stuff. But read the next verse.
Mark 11:24 ESV Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
I’ve asked in prayer. I’ve believed it will be mine. But then I considered that the verse doesn’t say when the mountain will be moved, just that it will be.
This is how raising my daughter is sanctifying me, again. We were headed out to the pool. It was full of leaves and bugs from the storms of the week. It was kind of nasty. Now, that I’m the mom, I get to do the nasty things around here. FUN. So I climbed in with our skimmer and started swimming in the muck. My daughter stood outside our pool waiting to climb the ladder. I could hear her impatient yelling as I dove in over and over to scoop the leaves from the bottom. She wanted to swim NOW. She couldn’t see over the side of the pool and understand why she couldn’t get in yet. There was nothing wrong with her desire to swim, but the water wasn’t the best it could be. She had to trust that before she could come in that I had some work to do.
It was in this moment, scooping wasps, floating fire ants, and decaying leaves that I realized my faith mountain is only what I can see from my limited human-centered perspective. Maybe God is standing on the other side doing His good work, preparing the way. His timing isn’t slow to torture me. His timing is so that none will perish. God wants us to have His best. Sometimes His best takes time, but He isn’t ignoring me. God is good all the time. He is working in ways beyond my understanding, just like my ways were beyond my daughter’s comprehension.
2 Peter 3:9 ESV The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
When I think about my faith mountain in the perspective of eternity, I realize that my impatience isn’t worth anyone staying lost. In fact, just holding onto that verse strengthened me. I drew close, and He answered.
Isaiah 61:1 ESV “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;”
I was reminded that my struggles might be so that I can claim victory in His gospel, to be a salve to the brokenhearted. Some of the most horrendous experiences of my life have resulted in me being able to be a blessing, to proclaim God’s power to those still in darkness and pain. God doesn’t necessarily want my pain, but if I am faithful, I can seek Him through it, and receive His comfort for me so that I can offer that comfort to others.
I can honestly say in that moment my darkness lifted, even though my mountain has not, yet. Knowing God’s perspective and promise and perfect love for all of us really gave me a joyful heart in the midst of the battle.
I can’t share exactly what my faith mountain is because it really isn’t my mountain. It is more like someone else’s mountain that just happens to be standing smack dab in the middle of my life. But I don’t believe it matters. In fact, if I told you, you might say,’ well that isn’t something I struggle with’. By just calling it a mountain, you can imagine your greatest obstacle in my way. Kind of like Paul never clearly describes his thorn in the flesh, so we can imagine our greatest weakness and see his testimony as personal.
We all have faith mountains. Some are molehills our fear and anxiety turn into mountains, but I think as Christians, we’ve all stood in front of our own ideas of a mountain and prayed for it to be removed. I know I have and only realized God’s plan was working the whole time, long after the fact.
Do you have a faith mountain in your way today? Do you have something that you’re impatiently waiting to have moved or solved?
Psalm 34:18 ESV The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Claim this verse today. Let Him be your comfort. Seek His word. I always find Him there.