Have you ever felt your prayers went unanswered? Or maybe felt that somewhere between your heart and heaven, they got twisted around and the opposite became a reality? Maybe you stepped out in faith and boldly claimed one of His many promises for a loved one or a circumstance, only to have life rain down a series of gut-wrenching blows that leave you disillusioned or even angry.
Seven years ago, Jim Cymbala came to my church and spoke on prayer. At the time, I had an 8 month old daughter and was 8 weeks pregnant with my second. My heart was deeply moved that night and with complete faith I cried out to the Lord about specific aspects of my life, my marriage, and my family. I wanted change. I wanted what I know Scripture says He wants. The problems that came in the months and years following that benchmark night felt nothing less than a slap in the face. It was like my prayers were denied.
In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Paul describes the Spirit-filled life as
“hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
During that dark time, I wanted to call His bluff. At the best of times, I felt frustrated and discouraged. At the worst of times, I felt ripped to shreds and left for dead. I was angry. I had wounds that were continually being reopened and exposed. I did not understand His ways. I did not understand His thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)
Though often I did not want to hear it, “time heals all wounds.” Now, the realist in me would actually leave out the word “all.” It is just too extreme of a word here. But they were right. I needed time. When I looked into life’s rear view mirror, I needed time to shrink the appearance of my hardships.
There are plenty of times when God, through His Spirit, speaks for the purpose of teaching and guiding, while there are other times His Spirit needs to correct and even rebuke. Though sometimes in His loving-kindness, God decides to bring revelation to past hardships. This type of eye opening understanding is a gift of Grace that often establishes a milestone of it’s own in our life that can never be forgotten.
Here lately, my old mini van has been my personal prayer closet of sorts. Whether driving to ballet or waiting for carline to start, God has met me in the midst of motherhood’s buy to-and-fros. This theme continued on a Sunday morning sunrise drive when God gave this mom a new milestone. I had been preparing to lead worship for a few days by practicing my instrument and spending time listening over the music, but it was not until the drive to church that God, in His intimate, heart-grabbing way, spoke.
It was on that car ride that God used a worship song to bring new imagery to Matthew 17:20.
“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “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. Nothing would be impossible.”
For whatever reason, I have always had this mental image that after asking a “mountain” to move that the “mountain” would just uproot from it’s resting place and smoothly float to a new location. Something like a cartoon spaceship moving above the earth. (Silly, I know!) This aspect of mustard-seed faith being big enough to move one of earth’s largest God-made structures is just something my brain could not grasp.
While the worship song played, God spoke to my heart. Revealing an overarching perspective to some of my deepest loses and struggles. Seven years ago, when I prayed for change, I wanted a positive experience to begin. I thought telling my mountains to “move” would be stress-free and bring no damage. I did not expect the ground to quake. I did not expect the rocks to come falling down. I did not expect the aftermath that would tunnel my vision, disallowing me to see above the debris left behind.
What I took as devastation and denial was in fact the work of the Lord moving my mountain. He was answering my prayers. Every explosion or avalanche that I took as a setback or crushing blow was apart of His plan to tear down my mountain. Big prayers. Big explosion. Like a dynamite blast, He comes in and invades our inmost parts. Even when we cannot see beyond our circumstances, He is present. He sees. He knows.
“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed.” (Isaiah 54:10)
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” (Psalm 46:1-3)
With tears in my eyes, I stared at that Sunday morning sunrise and found joy on the other side of tragedy. I saw all that He had done for me. I began to see that the rocks that had crushed me were the ones that led to a straight path. When the earth below me quaked and crumbled, the Lord was there, moving my mountain. I could finally look back and see the salvation of the Lord through the many avalanches of my past.
If you are walking a disillusioned road right now, I pray you find Christ as your solid Rock to stand on. If you are angry at God, I pray you allow it to move you towards Him. He can take it. If you are on a journey of healing, I pray you give forgiveness daily and see the Holy Spirit working all things for your good. Wrap your arms around whatever God allows and hug it as God’s best. Do not let it go until He has done His work. It is not easy, but He is good.
Below you will find the song I listened to that Sunday morning. God Who Moves the Mountains by Dustin Smith.
Erin Mullen is the wife of her college sweetheart, James, and the mother of three beautiful and energetic preschoolers, Addison, Levi, and London. She is a stay-at-home mom who is daily walking through the ups and downs of discipling her children in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. She has taught violin for 11 years, led small groups in her church’s women’s ministry, served on the leadership team for her church’s satellite campus, and played weekly in the worship band. Most people do not know that she is also a very talented and creative wedding florist and photographer. She and her family have recently relocated from Memphis, TN to Birmingham, AL where they are working through what life in a new city brings. One of the things she looks forward to the most about being in a new city is the opportunity to disciple a new group of ladies through chronological Bible study. She experiences no greater joy than digging in and processing through the depth God's Word brings to a believer's life.
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