You Just Need a Little Faith (the Size of a Mustard Seed to be Exact!)

“I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move; and nothing will be impossible.” Matthew 17:20-21 NLT

Can I be raw with you right now? I am struggling with taking God at His word. At the beginning of this year I entered into a period of prayer and fasting. Each week I asked the Lord for a specific word to pray over various circumstances in my life and the lives of my closest friends/family. Each week He faithfully delivered. For seven weeks I prayed for breakthroughs, healing, delivery (of answers/direction), breaking (of chains, strongholds and soul ties), repentance, protection, surrender and of course, victory. I watched sermons about fasting and felt encouraged everytime the preacher vowed that fasting moved mountains and made the Jericho like walls fall down. By the end of my fast I felt I had grown deeper in my faith, fully surrendered to God’s ability to answer my prayers and trusting Him to do it in His time and in His way. But since ending the fast I have felt far away from God. In fact, since the last day of the fast, I found myself fighting battles in the flesh once again.

Fighting in the flesh has led me to ask God, “Where did my “big” faith go?” and “Did I just throw away all the prayers I exhausted by doubting Him now?” God’s answers to these questions came through the story of Ruth and scripture about faith the size of a mustard seed. I had frequently came across Matthew 17:20-21. I een purchased a bracelet with the verse on it. A mustard seed charm hung from the bracelet also but fell off about a month after I began wearing it. On my desk sits a small clear jar, no taller than one inch with a corked top. Inside it lies one tiny mustard seed. I look at it daily-especially in those moments that doubt and worry rear their ugly heads into my heart and mind. The seed is a reminder to take God at His word and trust in Him with all my heart, leaning not on my own understanding. But every day I wrestle with doubt and fear. I even visited a church one Sunday where the Pastor preached on faith and if you guessed that he used Matthew 17:20-21 in his sermon, you guessed correctly. With hearing this passage so many times, you would think it would have taken root, but a bigger root, that of rejection, that had been growing since I was just a toddler, had blocked any spiritual roots of faith from taking hold of me.

Toward the end of February, a lifetime friend invited me to join an online Bible study on the book of Ruth. Personally, I struggle with Ruth’s story because I believe, if misinterpreted, it can easily create a fantasy love story, especially for the single soul who believes love only comes through a romantic relationship or marriage. But I’ve never participated in a study with this friend so I happily accepted and ordered the workbook. The study inronically began on March 6th, the Monday after a very difficult weekend where a heap of angry feelings and bitterness emerged and I spent two days crying and yelling at God. Talk about perfect timing. I’m now three weeks into this study, seeing a whole new perspective of Ruth’s story. Ruth isn’t just a love story. Ruth and Naomi’s story is God answers our prayers and redeeming us, even after we grow about bitter and doubt His goodness. It’s also a reminder that what God ordains, He will make happen, even if we temporarily step out of His will and spend a few years walking in our own way.

I’ve read the book of Ruth multiple times and am thankful for these new discoveries. They include:

1.) Naomi and her family disobeyed God’s warning to His people to stay out of Moab. They moved there after a famine hit their hometown. However, Moab is where Ruth becomes a part of Naomi’s family. She marries one of Naomi’s sons. After losing her husband and both sons, and hearing the famine had ended, Naomi decides to return home. She urges her daughters-in-law to stay in their homeland but Ruth insists on going with Naomi. In her plea, she tells Naomi this: “your God shall be my God.” Although Moab was a place filled with false gods, somehow Ruth knew about the One true God. This leads me to believe that Naomi and her family moved to a place that did honor God, but must’ve continued to worship Him and shared their faith with Ruth also. This faith is what led to Ruth’s devotion to Naomi, even in spite of Naomi’s bittered grieving heart, and to the perseverance in Ruth to find work and care for both her mother-in-law and herself.

2.) God ordained Ruth and Boaz to marry in order to continue His bloodline, yet Naomi met Ruth in Moab-the very place God had forbidden His people to go. Instead of God sending Ruth to Naomi’s home country, Ruth meets God in her place of sin-a place where she most likely grew up worshipping many false gods. This should encourage us that God in our places of sin also and leads us out of the places and back to Him. He only asks us to surrender to cling to Him and obediently say, “where You go, I will go, Abba.” (Ruth 1:16)

3.) Ruth happened upon Boaz’s field (Ruth 2:3). Nowhere do we read that God instructed Ruth to go find work or travel to a specific wheat field. In fact, no where in the book of Ruth will you read that God audibly or spiritually spoke to Ruth, Naomi or Boaz. From a human perspective, Ruth’s story could be chalked up to happenstance and sheer luck. But God was acting, without audibly directing. Perhaps, knowing Ruth and Naomi’s obedient hearts, He didn’t have to direct them as much as He did with Abraham and Moses. Whether we hear God or not, He is acting on our behalf. Circumstances in our lives will change either through His audible direction, or through His divine intervention that looks more like events just suddenly “happened.”

3.) Naomi and her family left their homeland because they doubted God’s provision. After losing her husband and two sons, she returns home, bitter and believing that God was punishing her. Yet her joy was restored when she remembers Boaz is a kinsman redeemer. Her faith was renewed when Ruth gave birth to Obed. Naomi’s faith was based on her circumstances yet even in Her bitterness, I believe she still had faith the size of a mustard seed. In spite of her doubting God’s goodness and not trusting His perfect ways, , God used Naomi as an interceptor for His will and redeemed both her and Ruth.

It’s been 23 days since I completed fasting. Everyday is a struggle to not only remember the things God spoke to me during the fast, but to keep the faith that God always keeps His word. Times when I focus on what is seen instead of focusing on what is unseen bring about the worst feelings. Every day I find myself combatting the lies of the enemy through prayer and confession. I don’t fight my fears, I confess them to the Lord. He already knows the thoughts are there and the feelings are consuming me. Failure to confess them isn’t hiding anything from Him. Failure to confess is only lying to myself.

I beg for a word from Him daily. Some days He answers, other days He does not. On the days He seems silent, I have to remind myself to go back to the last word He gave me and cling to that message until He speaks again. Of the four areas in my own life that I fasted for, 23 days post fasting, none of the circumstances have changed. In fact, none of the circumstances of my friends and family that I prayed and fasted for have changed. Some have even worsened or grown more dire than before I began fasting. But I know God is faithful and is moving in each area and in each family, including my own.

When I lose my grip on the foundation of hope God called me to stand on, when I stumble or fall, and especially when I grow a root of bitterness, God doesn’t punish me. He helps me up, and helps me to stand firm on His solid ground once again. When I want to be my own interceptor, and manufacture miracles on my timeline instead of waiting on God, He gently asks me to surrender and reminds me that He is fighting these battles for me. How does this control freak surrender? With faith the size of a mustard seed-the tiniest inkling that holds enough power to move me to die to self daily, take up His cross and do life His way. If you’re struggling with trusting God, may this reading encourage you to know that God doesn’t expect you to have “big faith.” He calls you to take Him at His word and to have a little faith, the size of a mustard seed to be exact.

V-I-C-T-O-R-Y! That’s this Christan Girl’s Battle Cry!

“But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory…”

2 Chronicles 20:17 (NLT)

In high school I was a varsity cheerleader. For two athletic seasons per year, I stood on the sidelines of games, dressed in an outfit that donned my school colors and matched seven to nine other girls. We shouted chants, performed stunts, jumps and pyramids, all while our athletic teams battled against their opponents for a winning score. Some games were blow-outs, with our team racking up the scoreboard all night. Other nights, the score ended in our opponent’s favor and we left the game feeling a little less “proud” and definitely not victorious. Some games were hard to watch and definitely hard to cheer for. Those were the games where our players were making error upon error and didn’t seem to have their heads in the game. But nonetheless, when called to duty, a faithful cheerleader can find the perfect words to chant because her job is to cheer for her team no matter what.

Do you know what a cheerleader’s job is not? It’s not her job to step onto the court or the football field and play the game. When the team is getting pummeled by a bigger opponent, a cheerleader cannot come off the sidelines, shove her players aside and say, “You guys stink. Let me handle this. I’ll get us that victory!” A cheerleader is also not allowed to tell the coach what plays to calls. She isn’t allowed to boo her team either! Her only job is to work with her fellow cheerleaders to pump up the team and the crowd and especially to keep the crowd engaged when their team is losing the game. Winning the games is not the cheerleaders’ battle. Those battles belong to the ones actually playing the game. Praising her team no matter their effort is a cheerleader’s call of duty.

We face many battles in life. Battles in life are definitely not a game that most of us would ever volunteer to play. Some battles are meant for us to fight, others however, only God, Himself can fight for us. For example, in the early days of his childhood, my son struggled with chronic ear and sinus infections. I “fought” these battles by seeking medical treatment and following his doctor’s orders. I also “fought” by reading up on preventative measures and the effects of long term antibiotic usage. He underwent minor surgeries having tubes placed in his ears. He also endure allergy testing and allergy shots for seven years.

Yet, my son’s illnesses worsened. A common cold for his body always turned into croup. When this happened he would undergo breathing treatments using a nebulizer machine. This went on until he was of age to manage his breathing with inhalers. Did I mention, he received a life sentence of “asthma” from a pediatric pulmonologist when he was still in elementary school? This came after he had a full blown asthma attack that landed him in the emergency room receiving epineprhine treatment. Sitting by his bedside, I found myself trying to breathe for him. Every breath I felt entering and exiting my own lungs felt useless because no matter how hard I tried, I could not breathe for my own son. It was after his asthma diagnosis that I realized, my human efforts could not heal him. The war on his lungs was a battle only God could win.

For three months, I prayed over my son’s lungs. These prayers were neither prophetic nor extraordinarily powerful. I simply laid my hand on his chest at bedtime and said, “Dear God, please heal my son’s lungs.” If ever I forgot, my son would gently ask, “Mommy, please pray over my lungs.” and I would do so. At his next pulminologist appointment, the doctor stumbled over his words trying to explain the improvement in his lungs. I don’t remember much of what this doctor said except that he informed us we did not need to come back and see him anymore. This doctor couldn’t explain the difference, but as my son and I got into my car to travel home, I reminded him that we knew what the difference was. God had answered our prayers and healed my son’s lungs.

Fast forward ten plus years later. My children are now young adults and my family is once again under attack. I have spent the last four years fighting these battles in my own strength and under the power of my own human will. I have cried myself to sleep many nights. I’ve experienced full blown panic attacks and been hit with moments of unforgiving anger. In the fall of 2021, my prayer life went from superficial to super irreverant. I didn’t ask God for anything. I demanded He give my family justice all the while really hoping for revenge. As situations worsened, so did my prayer life. I pretended to cling to my faith, even professing that God was in control. But behind the scenes, I was telling God what to do, how to do it and when I expected Him to get it done. When He didn’t do it my way, I decided I had to do it for Him. I even listened to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War (2007, AIOS Publishing) gaining much battle strategy to use against the enemies I believed were hurting my family. I lost sight of who are real enemy is.

Ironically, during this time period, I bought a decorative sign for a friend, who’s youngest child had just received a devastating health diagnosis and who’s husband had underwent major heart surgery a few short months later. The sign read, “The battle is not yours, it belongs to God.” I was so hell bent on healing my family my way, I couldn’t even hear God say, “that sign belongs in your house too!” God had to bring my life to a complete halt and walk me through months of isolation and pruning for me to finally be still enough, broken enough and seeking Him enough to hear Him tell me, “these battles are not yours, they belong to me.”

At first, I believed I could easily surrender it all to God, just like I surrendered my son’s asthma diagnosis to Him so many years earlier. However, surrender doesn’t come naturally. Every day I would say I am laying it all down, trusting God will deliver what He’s promised in His way and in His time. Every day I picked it right back up, wrestling with fear, doubt, insecurity, and even anger all over again. Every day, God has reminded me to lay it back down, for the battle is not mine. I can no more breathe for my son than I can redeem my family. Once again, I am walking through a battle that belongs only to God.

When God spoke to me about today’s post, He reminded me of my cheerleading days. I’m a self proclaimed control freak, but not once do I ever recall wanting to run out on the field during a football game, shove the wide receiver out of the way, take the ball from the quarterback and run down the field attempting to make the touchdown myself. I trusted the game to football coach and his players, while cheering them on from the sidelines. I believe God asked me today, “When are you going to let me do my job, trust me with your family and start cheering for Me?” WOW! After spending a weekend battling with angry prayers and doubting God’s promises, He woke me up with a reminder that this season of life, this war on my family, isn’t my fight. Even though I can’t see the battle field, He is fighting for us and instead of complaining and basically saying, “God, you stink!”, He’s asked me to get off the field, trust the game to Him and cheer Him on! In high school, no matter the score, we would yell, “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y! THAT’S THE VIKING BATTLE CRY!” Call it praise or worship if you want, but if God has sidelined you, He’s not placing you on the bench. He’s calling you to let Him fight this battle for you. Your job is to just be His cheerleader and yell, “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y! THAT’S MY GOD’S BATTLE CRY!”

Waiting and Donating

“I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me.” Psalms 69:3

I have a few minor addictions. One is sugar-free vanilla iced coffee from a popular fast-food restaurant. The other is accumulating stuff. Both bring me temporary pleasure that lead to problems shortly after. The coffee-well it’s usually consumed after I’ve already had plenty of caffeine for the day, so it increases my heart rate and raises my anxiety. Accumulating stuff costs money. Not only does this addiction dwindle my savings, it also creates clutter in a house that is already lacking many storage options. That leads to spending an entire day, sometimes an entire weekend, de-cluttering. Which is exactly how I spent part of my weekend a month ago. After cleaning out my closet and dresser drawers, adding to the already accumulated pile on my couch, I loaded everything up in my truck in preparation to donate it all at a local second hand store.

Some mornings, I skip breakfast at home which means grabbing drive-thru on my way to work. Remember that iced coffee addiction I mentioned above, well, it led to me going to that popular fast-food restaurant for breakfast, just to satisfy that craving. I have a 40-minute commute to work. I have to pass this fast-food chain twice during that commute. The first causes me to leave the expressway and drive about five minutes out of my way. The second is located directly across from my job. Of course, for convenience reasons, I choose the latter. Here’s the kicker-that one almost always leads to a very lengthy wait. I’ve sat in that drive-thru for over 20 minutes before. Not because it had a long line either. I honestly don’t know the reasons behind the long wait. I could get frustrated each time, but I choose patience instead. I know at some point the line will move, I’ll get my food and iced coffee and be on my way.

One recent morning the wait in this drive-thru line seemed different. The parking lot was almost empty and there was only one vehicle in front of me. I felt a tinge of excitement believing I would buzz right through the line and get to work earlier than anticipated. After placing my order, I pulled around to the payment window only to find myself waiting for the car in front of me. This vehicle didn’t move for what seemed like eternity. After a few minutes, I put my truck in park and waited even longer. Finally I saw an exchange between the cashier and the customer and the customer finally pulled forward. They promptly received their food and drove away. I thought the wait was over but I was fooled again. For as I pulled up to the payment window, I found myself waiting again. This time for them to process my payment. After watching three other employees gather around the cashier and finagle with the cash register, I could easily draw the conclusion they were experiencing technical issues. Once the transaction finally went through, the cashier confirmed my suspicion. Another short wait, and I finally had my food, including that sugar-free cup of caffeinated addiction that was the reason I chose that specific restaurant in the first place.

Fast forward to the end of my work day on that very same day. I skipped the gym and drove to the second hand store. It took three trips to get all the donations out of my truck and inside the store. It felt exhilarating to unload all that stuff, not only knowing my house was a little less overstocked, but the backseat of my truck was also cleaned out. I thought for a minute how easy it was to unload everything. Although it did take three trips, I was able to park close which meant short walks in between the building and my truck. On my second trip, a woman coming out of the store, carrying a box of her own, stopped just to hold the door for me. Knowing her hands were just as full as mine and she still managed to get the door for me I couldn’t help but appreciate her kindness a little extra. Dropping everything off was also hassle free because no one from the store approached me. I was in and out of the store and had an empty back seat again in less than five minutes.

These things are normal routine moments in life. But today, two things occurred to me that left me asking myself two questions. Why is it, I could wait so patiently in line for an unhealthy beverage that would inevitably increase my heart rate but I am too impatient to wait on God’s timing in certain circumstances? Why also did it seem so easy to unload my “junk” to a second store yet so difficult to unload my burdens to Jesus? I think I know the answers, but I’m not going to write them here. Instead, I raise the same questions to you and challenge you to ask God. Don’t be surprised though, when God gives you the answers, He give you the assignment of a long overdue lesson in waiting also.