Now, Faith

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

Faith is a funny thing, not in a ‘haha’ moment, but in how it can ebb and flow within us. Each of us have gone from firmly believing in something to the reverse, questioning and wavering in our faith.

I believe that God is big enough to handle this. After all, we are human and sin factories and weak.

Tonight I have thought about healing (of course, I was watching The Chosen, episode 2 of season 3). It talks about healing. It is a powerful scene. It invokes deep feelings and tears.

I think of my younger sister, to me, she is an example of faith, courage and strength. I have admired her for my life. She nursed her husband during a long battle with ALS. At the same time, she nursed my niece, a childhood brain cancer survivor. During this time she exemplified courage. Yes, she would grow weary, but her love for her husband and children never floundered. She kept a family united with love, laughter and a bond that is felt to anyone entering her home.

I could go on and on about her. I remembered when she called to tell me that the diagnosis of cancer had been made for my niece. I hadn’t thought about it for years, but today, it has been in the forefront of my mind. It was a short conversation. She was in Maryland, and we were living in San Diego. She called to tell me two things, one, our uncle had passed away and two, they had for the first time put the descriptor cancer to my niece’s condition.

The conversation left me numb. I really did not know how to react. I had a elementary school friend visiting me at the time and she crossed the room, hugged me and took me out for the evening. We went to the movie to get my mind off of the conversation, to distract me. I remember it did not help really.

When our children are young, mothers will rush to do what we can to help our children when they are ill. We linger by their bedside at night, praying over them, gently touching them assuring ourselves that they are there. They will often stir with being touched and we quickly pray that they do not awaken fully.

Each of us, as mothers, have experienced this. Hovering over a feverish child, checking to see if the fever is rising or falling. Listening to a child with a cough, making certain it is not creeping into the little lungs. We hover. We pray. And our faith is increased.

That is how you grow to where I am now, I can look at a young mother and reassure her that things will be okay. Things will work out. We can boldly know that our Lord will be with that child, and that He can heal.

I haven’t stood over a child with a fever in years. I haven’t hovered over a child’s bedside. Those days are behind me.

Recently, my adult child received some news. It stirred this mother’s heart. The faith I so boldly write about faltered. I know that I know that I know how our God works, and yet, I questioned.

Does my questioning change anything? No. Will my prayers be put on a shelf in heaven somewhere because I faltered and questioned? No. God does not work like that. He knew in advance how I would react. He didn’t put His hand over His mouth aghast at my thoughts. (I always wanted to use aghast in a sentence, this was a first)

Our God knit us together. He formed us. He intercedes for us. He sings over us. I just needed to step back and remember this. I think that is why our Lord talked about mustard seed faith. If our faith had to be enormous, we would fail more often. But, a mustard seed. That’s a little thing.

“The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you!” Luke 17:6 (NLT)

So, after pondering and remembering and thinking about the size of my faith, I recognize that my faith is enough, because of Whom I believe in. My God can do all things. “For with God nothing [is or ever] shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37 (AMP)

Stupid Cat

To those cat lovers of the world, please do not get offended. These are purely my opinions and thoughts. There is a point to all of this.

I do not like cats. Kittens are great, so cute, fluffy and playful. Harmless even. But kittens grow up to be cats. I used to think I loved cats. In fact, I wanted one. I then went to work for the Army Veterinary Corp while we lived in Japan. I was hired as a receptionist, and became a scrub nurse to the vets. I loved that job, except for the cats. I was bitten at least six or seven times a day by cats. After doing that for eighteen months, you can understand my dislike of cats. It’s just not fun to be bitten by them daily, plus, they make my eyes water and I sneeze.

A year ago we were quasi adopted by a cat. Living in the ‘country’ it’s great to have one to kill off the mice and the snakes. Dale had wanted an outdoor cat, so he was thrilled. Me? Not so much.

But we fed him and made certain there was an outdoor feeding station for when we were not home. We have a creek running through our property, so water is readily available.

He has never officially been named. After all, he has only quasi adopted us. A friend of mine named him Thaddeus after the role on The Chosen played by Giavani Cairo . On the show he is sometimes referred to by the cast and crew as Rad Thad (so I have read). I consider this cat to be Mad Thad. He also was named Sassy by our granddaughter this summer. Of course the cat nipped at our sweet granddaughter, did not break the skin, but caused a slight bruise. That in itself was enough for me to send the cat into the next country. But, not our granddaughter. A couple hours after being nipped, she drew him pictures and made a present to the cat. We overheard her tell the cat that she understood why she was nipped at, his paw got stuck in her dress and although she was trying to help him, the cat, in panic, nipped at her. Of course, that melted my heart.

We recently came back from visiting our granddaughter and there was no cat to be found. Dale was upset, me, I thought well, at least I don’t have to buy cat food. I am just being honest here, folks.

The cat was gone for a couple of weeks. Yes, I actually did pray for it. Last week as we were heading into town we were at a stop sign and I glanced across a busy road and mentioned to Dale that it looked like the cat. He rolled the window down and gave his usual call. The cat looked up and responded. I thought, he has found a home.

A little sadness crept in. Yes, I am not that hard hearted. For the next few days I looked in every ditch and in every yard to see if I saw him again. Yes, I did pray for his safety.

After a few days, there on our doorstep was the cat. We gave him food and water and I went and bought more food. The storm from hurricane Ian was approaching and supposed to hit us hard. We broke down, went to Target and bought a new cat bed, and a litter box for him. The day of the storm we got him on our screen porch so he could be out of harms way. He ignored the bed and curled up on our porch chairs and slept through the night. The next day was a beautiful day and once we figured out that it was okay to be out, we let the cat out.

The cat walked out of the screen porch and disappeared, not to be seen. We looked at each other and decided the cat was not be owned, or indebted to us.

Tonight, the cat reappeared, hungry. We fed him and he is now sleeping on our front porch like he owns the place.

As I thought about this, it occurred to me that we often treat God in a quasi fashion. He died on the cross for our sins. He suffered. He redeemed us. He feeds us through our pastors. He provides safety in storms. He gives us shelter. He gives us love and care when we let Him.

We are no different than Stupid Cat. He yearns for our love, our affection and meanwhile we lick our paws, sidle up to Him and then nip at Him when He tries to help us. The difference is, that although I could give up on the cat, the Lord will never give up on me.

“But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom;  I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Others were given in exchange for you.  I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.” Isaiah 43:1-4 (NLT)

Not Perfect, yet

“I make a way for people to access that Kingdom. But in this world, bones will still break, hearts will still break, but in the end the light will overcome darkness.”  – from the Chosen, season 2

The above quote was from the writers of the series The Chosen for the character of Christ. I love this quote (one of many that I love). It speaks to people now. I am certain the Lord would have said this also. Not a doubt in my mind about that.

When people accept Jesus as their Savior, too often they expect perfection immediately. Not so. We are in this world. We are impacted by what we experience in this world. That is why that quote hits me so hard. We will experience everything in this world. Our hearts will be broken. Bones will still break (I know that one personally, ha!). We will have hard times. Illness will come, diseases might attack us. We will be in this world.

Does being born again save us from any of this? No. Do we conquer it all? Maybe, maybe not.

This I do know though, we have a person who knows what it is like to be here on earth. Jesus the Christ. Because He was here on earth, He understands. He’s walked this land, He’s experienced what it’s like here. He knows.

“He was the source of life, and that life was the light for humanity.” John 1:4 (Names of God Bible)

Jesus is God. We can come before Him and make our requests known to Him. I do this daily. Sometimes I actually have an answer to prayer that I prayed. Most of the time the answer is not exactly what I prayed for, but in time I see the wisdom of the answer. Yes, my heart has been broken several times. I yelled at God, I screamed at Him, I begged Him. Was there an immediate answer? No, actually I had a season to walk through each time. Many times it was not easy. Now, in hindsight, I can see reasons why I experienced things in my life. I learned. I actually learned from the best in leaning on the Lord.

We each have a time here on earth. This is not our home. We are just here for a moment in eternity. But, we can access that kingdom with our broken areas of our life. We can turn to the Light of the world and in Him we can persevere.