The Misunderstanding of My Mustard Seed

Last week the kids and I were heading to prayer meeting down on the OMS campus a few miles away. Matt had been gone for a few days, and I was looking forward to good time together with other believers, pouring over the Word and hearing about what God was doing in their lives, looking forward to being nourished in His sought out presence.

We were just coming past the girls’ school when I noticed men in the road with their faces totally covered and I slammed on the breaks. This has been a very heated time politically in Haiti, and nobody hides who they are unless they are doing something they shouldn’t be.  We sat for a moment to assess the situation before approaching. A long line of large rocks “cut” the road from side to side, and as soon as one of the men saw us, though we were stopped, not attempting to continue on, he came after us with a large stone, and then another and another.

I flew into action, throwing the car into reverse and pulling around as fast as I could while he was running for us…peeling back the way we came…only stopping finally to let Micheline out, forcing her to walk the rest of the way to her home, past the barrier.

Always Mama first, I spend the first few minutes of our return ride home making sure everyone was ok, explaining what I could. “You know how bad the road is right now, and people are really frustrated with the roads and with how hard life is in Haiti, and a few people are so angry that they are making bad choices, like being violent to bring change. So we can pray for them and we can go back home, now, we’ll do prayer meeting next week instead, everything is ok!”

Lily’s had trouble falling asleep ever since the earthquake the beginning of October, and she didn’t need anything else to trouble her.  I put on some music and smiled and changed the subject and the girls moved on fine.  Nothing had really happened, after all.

But when we got home and unloaded, I realized I was shaking. That night, it was me who couldn’t sleep. A few days later, passing through the same part of road with Matt at the wheel, I felt incredibly anxious.

Not just because I had all my littles with me or because Matt hadn’t been with us when something scary happened, but because I hadn’t done anything wrong, had no wrong intentions, hadn’t hurt anyone or been doing something I shouldn’t have done…and yet someone had tried to hurt us. Even when we were retreating, they came after us.

THAT is disturbing.

It’s disturbing because we get thinking that our faith merits our safety.  That our righteousness merits our blessing.  That our good merits our good.

So when that’s not what we get, what in the world?

When heartbreak or evil or broken or bad or HARD actually spins around and pursues us–though we were carrying on faithfully, though we were heading to Bible Study, though we were surrounded by innocence–how do we reconcile that? How did that happen? Why do bad things happen to good people?

It’s an age-old struggle, and the answer the Lord firmly reminded me of yesterday is age-old, too.

The answer is wrong question.

My faith in Jesus NEVER PROMISED to provide blessing and riches and good health and fortune.  Jesus is not my genie, and my goodness or righteousness or effort doesn’t stand a chance at meriting any good anything. 

That’s a false, genie jesus and a false, genie faith, built on my own, based on my own works and sense of entitlement. Smashed by bullies in the road. Or unemployment. Or infertility. Or cancer. Or a car accident. Or miscarriage or war or famine or loss or hunger. Or a bad day.

What my faith in Jesus Christ DOES claim and provide is that “He can present us faultless before the throne of God, inexpressibly pure, absolutely righteous, and profoundly justified.”(Chambers)

Grace, it’s all grace, for what I DO merit is death and hell and total destruction.

Instead, I can stand in absolute adoring faith in Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption! (1 Cor. 1:30)

I’d gotten disillusioned that somehow safety and security and blessing were the great gifts, not the righteousness, sanctification and redemption He’s offering.

I’d gotten disillusioned that these gifts came from me doing what I ‘should’ instead of coming from the own costly crushing of His Beloved Son.

Once again, God used Oswald Chambers and My Utmost for His Highest to remove my focus from the so-called injustice, from the masked evil, from the potential what-ifs, from the misunderstanding of my mustard seed.  Instead:

We must continually focus and firmly place our faith in Jesus Christ–Not in a prayer meeting Jesus Christ, or in a book Jesus Christ, but in the New Testament Jesus Christ, who is God Incarnate, and who ought to strike us dead at His feet.  Our faith must be in the One from whom our salvation springs. Our faith must be built on strong, determined confidence in Him.

If our faith is built on good roads, what do we do when they’re cut? If our faith is focused on friendly faces, how will we crumble when they mob? If our faith is resting on perfect outcomes, then where will we be when rocks are flying?  It’s WHY the Gospel is one and the same for every person and every place…because it doesn’t depend on the person or the place, the culture or the circumstance.

Our faith must be in the One from whom our salvation springs. Our faith must be built on strong, determined confidence in Him.

As we drove home that day, the sun was setting over the rice fields with all the peace my heart was lacking. I stuck my phone out the window, capturing what our lives, family, should be…what no poverty, no loss, no injury, no hatred, no failure can take away…

Our lives should be an absolute hymn of praise resulting from perfect, irrepressible, triumphant belief. 

come what may

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