So lately, I have been fighting off some massive problems with discouragement. Massive, I tell you. I have felt like my prayers, my tears, my problems were falling on deaf ears. My faith has started to slowly suffer. You know the drill, you get motivation, you stay focused, you remain strong, until all of a sudden, you realize how deep the water is.
I have known my water is deep, and have clung to the promise that God will not let me drown. It is in those moments that I realize my faith feels tiny. It feels almost nonexistent. But it only takes faith as small as a mustard seed. Today, I reached a milestone, an anniversary, and while a year ago, I felt defeat and failure, today I feel victory and freedom. Two years ago, hopeless was my constant state of mind. And, for some reason, I can't help but look back just a little tonight. Not at the bad, not this set of mistakes in the corner, or the bad call hovering over my head, or even that other major setback. I look back and realize how far His faithfulness has brought me, and not because my faith has been so big, either.
I received a short devotional this morning in my inbox. And, wouldn't you know, it was exactly the reminder I needed. It was about faith. God has a funny sense of humor sometimes. Anyway, the devotion made a short reference to Elijah, and I couldn't remember the story and just started reading back. And it hit home.
In the story, there was a drought across the land. The drought had lasted for quite some time when God finally told Elijah the drought would be over soon. Elijah called the Israelites on the fact that they were walking away from God and right into some statues. He challenged them, asking them to just make up their minds who they were going to serve and serve whoever it was. Elijah gave them a test, to see if their idol could start a fire, or if it was only the God he served. Of course, he knew the answer, but had to prove the point. They all agreed whoever ignited the fire is who they would serve. After an entire morning, and part of an afternoon, Baal hadn't ignited the altar. Nothing was happening, Elijah even going so far as to poke fun at Baal for ignoring their pleas. After completely soaking the altar Elijah built with water, Elijah prayed to God, and fire came down upon the altar. The story goes on to the celebration, the rains that came, and then his need for immediate escape.
At this point, I found it so typical of all of us. Elijah heard the promise, believed the promise, and told others of the promise. It was going to rain. He didn't know when or how, but that God was God and it was going to happen. He even carried out God's plan. He proved to all the people that God was the true God, and then suddenly realized his life was in danger. His faith rocked to the core, he cried out, asking for death to take him. Scared, running for his life and alone, and yet he still clung to the One he knew could calm it all.
In my life right now, I have got a million things trying to take me down. I even think I made the comment a few days ago that I was tired, ready to call it quits. Not knowing what is ahead of me, only seeing the chaos I have left behind me. I have been so discouraged, wondering if the promise God gave me was really God, wondering if God was listening, hearing my cries. Feeling like the storm around me is so big and bold, so fierce I won't be able to make it out alive. With the smallest amounts I have left, I keep praying. I keep waiting. I keep reading the scriptures that remind us God doesn't break his promises, doesn't change his mind. I find myself in an almost constant battle to remain in control of my thoughts, resisting the urge to throw my hands up and surrender to whatever this is that is coming at me.
When I am reading a really good book, I tend to not want to stop. I want to just keep reading, find out the how's and when's of the characters story. So, instead of shutting my Bible with God being victorious, and Elijah running off to the desert, I had to know a little more. You see, once more, Elijah was promised something. Elijah was promised God would pass by him on the mountain. So, Elijah went to the mountain. Once there, he experienced hurricane force winds, but no God. Then, he experienced a mighty earthquake, but still, no God. And on top of that, Elijah experienced fire. And again, no God. One thing after another tried to distract Elijah from his purpose on that mountain. Meet with God. He will pass by on the mountain.
It wasn't loud. It wasn't fierce winds. It wasn't violent earth shattering shaking. It wasn't hot burning fire. Instead, God showed up after all of that in a gentle, small quiet whisper. In that moment, Elijah, again, poured his heart out. God told him to go back the way he came.
This is what hit me. Sometimes we gotta go back the way we came to see what faith can do. Sometimes, we gotta go back the way we came to make it up the mountain we are on. Sometimes, we gotta go back. Not to stay, not to regret, not to wish things were different. We just have to go back so we can see what God has done, and what He continues to do.
Tonight, I keep going back the way I came. A really really angry teenager, set on doing things her own way. Refusing to listen to anyone who might have something important to say. I go back to the days of early motherhood, wondering if the night would ever end. I go back to the start of my college education, full of hope and excitement for the next few years. I go back to those days of waiting for God to move, and move BIG. I keep going back. It is in these moments my hope, my faith, my courage is renewed.
God's hand took me out of a bad situation. God had a plan bigger than right now, or tomorrow. He had a plan that had to be set in place years ago, so that I could get to this place right now. I can look forward, with hopes and dreams, because I can see what God has brought me through already. I look back over my life, and realize I shouldn't be where I am today. I shouldn't have three amazing little girls right now. I shouldn't be just a handful of classes away from graduating. In these moments, I almost want to laugh at how crazy it all sounds. I shouldn't be thriving. I shouldn't be so excited about what the next year will hold. But, I can't help but know if God can get me through the junk in my trunk, He can most definitely get me through today and tomorrow. He promised me something, and while I can't see the clouds on the horizon just yet, I gotta keep waiting and watching, cause I know they are coming.