Friday, July 18, 2014

What changed my faith...

My faith has deepened over the past few years.

A number of variables have contributed to this change in me, but one realization has stood out: To have faith doesn't mean you have to be fully confident and have it all figured out, you just have to have enough faith to take the first step.

I've always been fascinated with Luke 17:6: "He replied, 'If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you."

I first heard this verse as a little girl in Sunday School and though no one told me to interpret it this way, I would think it meant to have real faith you have to fully know that what you believe should happen will. Like when you stand and say to the mulberry tree to uproot and move to the sea, you are 100% sure that it will happen in the way you envisioned. If you have any doubt at all, the mulberry tree will not move because you did not have enough faith or the right kind of faith.

Yet, I am not 100% sure of most things in my life. Yes, there are some certainties, the love for my family and friends never waivers but I am not always 100% sure I am doing this parenting thing right or that I have made all the right decisions regarding my career, family and life.

I still don't have Luke 17:6 all figured out, but now that verse speaks a little bit differently to me. My understanding of faith now is that you stand looking at the mulberry tree in your life and you just have enough faith to take the first step. You ask God to move the tree. You can be nervous, unsure, anxiety ridden, full of doubt, but you still stand there knowing that Jesus is Lord and you ask for the tree to move and have enough faith to put one foot forward. The tree may not move in the way that you imagined or in the time frame that you wanted but despite the fact that you don't know how God is going to do it, you know deep in your heart that God will move that tree by either changing your situation or transforming you.

Life has given me plenty of opportunities to watch God move mulberry trees in my life. In some ways God has answered my prayers and life has turned out how it want it: I am married to a man I deeply love and we are blessed with three amazing kids. But, in many ways life has surprised me. Moving away from my family to live where my husband grew up. Choosing to go back to work and be a part-time working mom over a stay-at-home-mom. My pursuit of writing and photography and chasing the dreams that enrich my life so deeply. My mom having to battle breast cancer and thankfully, winning. Overcoming miscarriages. The journey of parenting and how deeply it moves and transforms me. Friendships and relationships that have grown and deepened or healed and remained true despite bumps.

But all of this has happened through doubt and uncertainty and nervousness. Despite me often not feeling like I have enough faith, God always reveals Himself and moves my mulberry tree into the sea whether it is by changing my circumstances or transforming me.

Because of this realization, I approach faith differently now: I focus only on the next best step.

To have faith I don't have to understand the entirety of religion, why bad things happen and what God is doing in my life and in the world around me. I will never see and understand the big picture the way that God does and that is okay. Thank goodness I don't have to have it all figured out to have faith.

But, I can know that Jesus is Lord and trust that He will reveal the next right step for me. Even when my heart feels unsure and scared. Then I can have enough faith to take the second step, then the third and each foot forward that follows God's leading. Eventually, when I look back I can see how far God's moved me. I can see that He has indeed moved my mulberry tree.


What changed my faith is realizing a whole tree can be moved with a sliver of courage to take the next right step.


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14 comments:

  1. Cheryl, I enjoyed reading your thought on faith like a mustard seed. What a good idea to just focus on the next step. I always identified with the man who told Jesus he believed, but asked for help with his unbelief.

    I found you via Essential Things Devotions.

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    1. I am glad that story is included in scripture. It is encouraging that you don't have to be sure of everything to still have faith. Thanks for the comment. I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

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  2. Cheryl,
    What an amazing post. God is so good. I would love for you to post this on my blog today for the link up for others to see too!

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    1. Thanks, Kim! I enjoyed looking at your blog and just linked up there too.:)

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  3. Beautiful words, Cheryl. I appreciated your insight into the verse about the mulberry tree - thanks for that!

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  4. Sweetly written. I have learned that without fear, there can be no such thing as courage, and without uncertainty, there can be no such thing as faith. It is the substance of things "hoped for." Lots of food for thought! :)

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    1. Oh, I love how you said all that! Thanks for giving me food for thought!:)

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  5. Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see"

    Faith is such a confusing, amazing, crazy thing and it's such a blessing to be able to have it and to trust in the Lord! Thankfully, He's got it all figured out and we can rely on that! :-)

    Thanks for linking up with the Faith and Fellowship blog hop!

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    1. Susannah, I love how you described faith! Thanks for letting me link up at your blog!

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  6. There are many uncertainties in life, but our faith fully placed in Christ will see us through the hard times. We can trust His Word when he tells us to believe. Perhaps that Mulberry bush is still being uprooted and soon it will be cast into the sea - - don't give up hope. Keep telling it to leave. Our words spoken are powerful and Jesus told us to SAY to the mountain (and bushes too) He has given us the authority to move and work in His Name! You are my neighbor at Spiritual Sundays!

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  7. Hazel, thanks for encouraging me with your thoughts!

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  8. Exactly right. We don't have to know the whole path; we only have to take the next step. Sometimes I'm not comfortable with God working that way, but other times I appreciate the wisdom of God to not require us to know it all! Thanks for sharing this. It's difficult to make peace with uncertainty but it's necessary to faith.

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