There are moments in our lives that require a great deal of faith. To clarify, faith is not about believing in God alone and all that is written in the bible. It is more than words from the pulpit, even grander than our everyday prayers.
Faith is belief in something that you cannot see or physically feel. It is not giving up when things go wrong because “if God was so good, then why…?” Faith is about trusting, allowing oneself to accept and grow as they experience bad choices, unplanned health or financial issues, or natural events. Faith is looking beyond what we do not understand, while allowing our hearts to openly seek God in a way that sometimes brings us to our knees. And sometimes, as we grow stronger, the hardships in life get easier as we take the blinders off of self-doubt to see the miracles we otherwise would miss.
When life bombards you with one event after another, you end up feeling quite overwhelmed. You wonder, “why me?” I’ve cried, I’ve prayed and I’ve even had very loud discussions with God as tears streamed down my face. I’ve even given God ultimatums (yes, the last time I checked, I’m still human and want my way). Yet, despite the pain and hurt I felt, I never lost faith in knowing that God still loved me. I just didn’t understand.
They only way in which I can simply explain, is that as we raise our children, there are times we need to say “no”. Sometimes we need to take the toys away. They need answers to “why”, where parents who love their children will take the time to explain. Sometimes the explanation is clear, yet other times we need to teach more, where sometimes they simply accept and trust their parents. Yet, when our child is stubborn and not getting their way, they cry, they throw a fit, and say “it’s not fair”.
Okay, I just admitted that I am a child of God, have moments I don’t understand and shamefully admit of having fits of frustration. I didn’t get my way. It’s not that God didn’t want me to “have” or not want to provide a heart’s desire; it was because I wasn’t ready or it wasn’t meant to be. As parents we understand about keeping our children from entering unsafe places, but as children of God, we walk about on our own faith believing we can do all sorts of things that don’t allow God the ability to guide us.
This is not to say, that even strong Christian believers don’t have moments of despair. Those who know me and have been with me during recent bombshell moments, with one thing after another falling in our direction, would often witness as I looked up to the heavens and say “Seriously God? There’s more?” Yet, what they have also noticed is that I’ve learned to cope better as I look beyond the immediate “disaster”. I’ve learned to accept things easier when I don’t understand. It doesn’t mean I won’t ask questions, but when there is no logical explanation, I adapt to what can’t be changed.
As a fire engulfed our barn, filled to the brim of pictures and memories, seasonal items, toys and games, furniture pieces my grandfather made that were to be used as each child moved on, and more; after grasping what was happening, I sat down crying, realizing that everything was gone. I felt pain for my husband, myself and for our children, as precious homemade gifts from their grandparents such as a custom made rocking horse, would never be used again. I felt the loss of my grandfather a second time over, as things he had made me when I was a young girl was gone. It was the memories of love that broke me, more than the “stuff” that fills our lives. I grew quickly from this experience, as I reflected on God’s love. He didn’t take our stuff away, or the love and memories inside. He took away what was clogging up our hearts. And at the same time, He kept with us what mattered most: Our children were safe, we were unharmed, and our home was not cindered still giving us a place of rest, food and shelter.
What was a miracle was the knowledge that God provided angels to watch over us that day. Firefighters and others looked up into the trees and were amazed that the hot flames that took our barn, not once harmed the trees. The devastation could have been far worse. Although branches were singed causing some leaves to curl, the heat of the flames were stopped from what should have been a chain reaction to our garage then to our home.
God took time to show me how much I had really grown that day. After the initial shock I found myself thankful, and as time went on, we saw the fire as a blessing beyond our wildest expectations. Instead of looking at what in reality happened, I looked past the flames and past the scorched embers and saw love as we rebuilt the barn and brought order back to our home as we accepted it with grace.
For those who have been told by other Christians, that there is something missing in your faith, for God to allows these things to happen, must realize that these Christians are really unkind people. They are the ones who tend to walk out and are not willing to help or guide. Out of all my Christian friends and family, only my in-laws and my neighbor were here to help. For what we understood, this event was not about our lack of faith, but rather an opportunity to grow.
I am still a work-in-progress, I regress from time to time, but every few steps forward shows me how much my faith has grown. And to provide you with a giggle, I have learned one thing about my prayers. Be specific when you ask for help in cleaning out your clutter, as my prayer was very vague. God will answer you but not necessarily the way you wish. What I was asking for was guidance so that I could complete it without being distracted by the end of summer, but what I verbalized was “Lord, I need help getting through all this stuff.” He knows that I am sentimental and would have a very hard time getting rid of some things, but now I smile as I look into our very organized barn, with things in its place, and the material memories safely placed within my heart.
Faith can grow through the flames in life, when we take the hand that will guide us safely through.
Note: This fire took place in the summer of 2011. The barn is rebuilt, although not all items we used are replaced (many have been)