I stood at the back of the church, I was trembling. A picture had just come to my minds-eye and I knew it was God. Had the word been an easy word I would have felt great joy, especially in the knowledge that the word be received, people would praise me and I would feel loved and accepted. But I knew this word would come at a price… my approval. I wrestled with God, tested the word over and over again. Every time it came back as His prophetic word. I explained to God at great length the price that I would pay for speaking this word. Telling Him that the people would not receive it, that they would get angry at me. Over and over I heard Him say in response to every argument I brought before Him, “Yet I ask you to speak it, for even though they will not receive it, in this word is my mercy. For my love for them is great. Cheryl speak it anyway”. I stood before the church, eyes cast down full well knowing the outcome. In that moment of trembling, I felt God touch me. My heart was filled with the warmth of His love. In His love I became courageous. In my minds-eye I saw the picture again and felt His deep love for these people. God’s compassion, mercy and hope filled my heart. Despite my fearful heart, I spoke the word.
It would be great if that courage and the overwhelming sense of God’s love resulted in this amazing appreciation for the word I spoke. It would be great if it resulted in me being praised and accepted. However, the reality was in stark contrast to what my heart so desperately longed for – love, acceptance. At the end of the service and in the following weeks I was met with rejection in many forms, which I had petitioned God to not allow me to experience. I went home each week shattered because I knew the heart behind that word was God’s love and mercy for these people. I was confused at God’s love being so violently opposed. At the time I could not comprehend how I could do something that God wanted, where I felt His love and mercy, but it would not be received as such. I didn’t understand that sometimes doing what God wants would result in me being rejected. I was innocent to the courage it took to love God and walk in faith. Over the many months after that day I questioned my ability to hear God. It obviously wasn’t Him, how could it be? I was rejected and ridiculed. I got it so wrong. However, as those months turned into years and I have had many more moments of standing alone in what God is asking me to do, I have come to realise, that the rejection of man doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of God’s love and pride for your courage. Being courageous can mean that you look foolish, you receive ridicule and don’t receive man’s acceptance. Being courageous can mean that you are standing alone with only one person beside you – God.
Sometimes standing in what God asks, means standing alone in a sand storm of lies, questions and doubts and still choosing to stand anyway. It is choosing to remain in His truth and not look at the circumstances despite them saying the exact opposite of God’s word. Over the last few years of walking this very journey, I can testify how crushing choosing this stance to continue to believe can be. Your mind and emotions struggle and rail against what you know is truth. The enemy is very clever in his pursuit in your failing to continue to believe. Before you know it you are surrounded by a huge body of evidence declaring your faith stance is wrong. In fact, I am going to say choosing to have faith anyway is absolutely exhausting. I have many times stumbled to maintain the God-path and stay looking to Him, the one who is the author and perfecter of my faith. I have been overwhelmed by the pain of being abandoned, abused, rejected, unloved and fallen into absolute despair. I have yelled to the air, “God I know you are with me, but I am so alone. God I know you are truth, but where is the fruit of what you are saying. I believe in the power of your love, the power of your blood. I believe in your word. But I see no evidence of your reality. I know that everything you do is in love. But God! God! It hurts! It hurts to believe. I look a fool, I am open to mockery. My courage is failing, I am at my end, if you don’t lift me up I will fall!” When I have absolutely reached my end, somehow God has pulled through to cause me to arise again and remain in Him. You see in God weakness is never an issue. No for in our end, is His beginning. In our undoing, is His victory. In our blur, is His definition. In our discourage, is His courage.
I thought faith looked like some amazing act of God happening before my eyes. Yes that does take faith, but that isn’t faith; that is the fruit of faith. Faith is Joshua walking for several days around Jericho with a bunch of Israelites, some musical instruments, and shouting loudly. It is looking foolish and yet choosing to do it anyway, because you met the Commander of the Lord’s army. It is David, who has been anointed king, continuing to look to God while living in the wilderness as an outcast from his own kingdom. It is holding onto a promise despite your circumstance saying the opposite, because you are so close to God that you know His heart and love for you. Sometimes all you have is the knowledge that: God’s character never changes; the reminders of all the times He has never failed you; and the memories that assure you that you are not alone.
Faith isn’t based on what you see and it definitely isn’t an easy road to walk. Faith tells you that when your world is falling apart, your identity is taking a battering, your joy is gone, your pride is reduce to nothing, your own personal strength is failing, there is one thing that remains – God. He is worth every moment of ridicule. His love is worth every moment that you are told you are unlovable. He is worth the character change required for Faith. He is worth the courage and need for endurance. For if this long journey of being knocked and stretched to my end has taught me anything, it is that the moment you are told you are not loved, God intervenes with the words, “I love you!” When you feel rejected, He says, “You are enough, I accept you”. When you fall, He picks you up and says, “Arise! Stand firm in who you are my child, know who you are! You are my beautiful child, I love you, I see no flaw in you. You are an over-comer. There is none like you. Arise, be the woman (or man) I designed you to be. Know this truth, I am so proud of you my child. Stand firm as my daughter (or son). Do not be afraid, have courage my child. ARISE”.
Faith says, “If God is all I have left, then I have EVERYTHING!”