Steady in the Storm – Chapter Four: Faith and Bucket Lists:
“I have spent a lot of mental energy on trying to quantify what a mustard seed of faith looks like; what it actually looks like in my hand. I sought out mustard seeds in garden stores to see if I could muster up faith in the size of this exact object, but I still didn’t get it”
“I find when I’m anxious about something, it’s because I’m not putting my faith in God.”
I won’t lie. It’s been a week. I am just now starting my weekend. It looks like cozying on the couch with a coffee and Bentley and trying to dust away all the cobwebs of frustration, emotion and grief from the week. Our neighbour is having large trees removed and I receive comfort in the sound of chain saws revving and the cracking of branches and large tree trunks giving way to the saws cuts. Rhett and I love to escape to the woods. Rhett loves ripping his chain saws and I love filling the back of the truck with large logs, testing my strength as I pile them up in my arms, drinking in the deep scent of the freshly cut lumber. I don’t think there are many women who would find the sound of chainsaws comforting, but right now, I’m kind of loving it.
I read the quote above and dismissed the idea of writing about faith. Then I heard God say, “I want you to write about faith.” I know it was God, because my first thoughts were the stubborn and defiant cries of a child, “NO! I don’t want to talk about faith!” I then felt his face look at me with the loving sternness of a parent. Then I cried. Like, actually teared up. I don’t even know what is about to come out in this post, but I have a feeling it will be more for my benefit than yours, because there’s something about faith I need to hear right now.
Faith is hard. I’m a practical person. I like progress, goals, lists, tangible success and the reward of a well job done. Maybe this is why I like collecting wood with Rhett. The tree gives way to the saw, crashing on the ground with a loud crack and smash of success. Each log is cut and carried away, the logs getting smaller and smaller as you near the top of the tree and the end of your goal. The fire created is warm and rewarding and can produce the delicious tastes of dinner after a job well done.
Faith is no lumberjack.
Faith is trust, longing, knowing the answer will come, but not knowing when or how or what it will look like. This goes against all my innate nature of practical goals. I often feel like I’m at odds with myself. There is my physical, practical self living out the day to day, taking in my surroundings, going to work and looking at all the things in life that need to be organized, sorted, planed and addressed. Then there is the other side of me, my spirit self, the side of me that is like a child, running and dancing in the midst of chaos, not even caring what happens in the end, just having faith that it will all turn out. Sometimes I hate that side of me, and sometimes I’m jealous of her life.
Every New Years for the past four years Rhett and I have sat down with friends and asked God for a word or picture for the year. This last year, oddly enough, we all felt we weren’t supposed to ask for a word or picture for 2020, but just let the year unfold without expectations and let the year be what it was supposed to be. There was actually a lot of freedom in that thinking. We still spent time praying and I had a picture of all of us, the four of us in the room, in a forest with Jesus. We were all kids, exploring the world around us, while Jesus was our Boy Scout Guide so to speak. My interpretation of this was that Jesus was supposed to be the adult in the room this year, that we were all just supposed to be kids, his kids.
2020 had demanded we be adults. It has demanded that we be responsible, take ownership, take charge and adult-up. Doing this has been the most stress inducing and anxiety causing experience. We have been asked to do more than our capacity. We have been told to adapt our work, be our children’s teachers, take everyone elses health into our own hands, stop working due to health orders, close businesses due to lack of funds, incur debt without knowledge of how to pay it back. We’ve had our areas of fun and outlet removed from us, told we can no longer gather with friends, family, in worship services or support groups.
We have had to adult-up like never before. But God calls us to be children of faith. To let HIM be the adult in the room. The image I had while we prayed over the year was serene. We were children, exploring the woods, watching nature, asking questions, being children, resting in God’s presence. I think I’ve forgotten how to do this. I’ve forgotten how to rest in the presence of God. How to let my worries go and have faith in his goodness. I’ve taken over as the adult in the room.
God doesn’t call us to have faith like children so that he can take over and rule us as the authority. He calls to have faith like children, becuase he wants us to be free of the anxiety and stress of our lives. He wants us to live in the trust that HE is the adult in the room. That his plans are sovereign and good. He wants us to live our lives in the freedom of childlike innocence.
I know my anxiety melts when I have faith in God’s goodness. I know my stress evaporates when I trust his plans. I know I’m at peace when I engage in childlike play. God knew I would need that image at New Years. He knew this would be a year where we would need him to show up and be the adult. I have reminded myself of that image a few times this year when things were getting hard, “Jesus, I need you to be the adult in the room right now.” I also needed to be reminded of that today, that calling on God to come in and be the adult is an act of faith.