As we draw close to God, we all experience questions about who God really made us and what we have to offer to the world. Our struggles are a beautiful evidence of our movement towards newness and change, not something to hide! I love God doesn’t leave us alone to figure it all out. He sends us kindreds — and that’s why I’m so happy to welcome my friend Michele Cushatt to join us today with a giveaway!
And I’m so happy to tell you about Michele’s beautiful, new devotional I AM: 60 Days to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is! When I met Michele, an amazing author and inspirational speaker, we immediately felt a special kinship, as I was working on my 40 day devotional Whispers of Rest. We both love God’s Word, love people and sharing God’s gentle voice in an honest way. Without giving away Michele’s story (which you can read in her books), grab a cup of coffee and enjoy! Michele’s a gem!
I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots.—Hosea 14:4–5
From my earliest memory, I loved Jesus. Which is why I never dreamed a day would come when I’d walk away from Him.
My falling out of love with my faith wasn’t a flippant decision. It came as a result of prolonged disappointment and pain. After a lifetime of praying for a godly husband and family, I ended up as a twenty-seven-year-old divorced mother of an infant. This wasn’t the disappointment of plans falling through. This was the crashing down of everything I’d once prayed for and dreamed of.
Those who have endured a similar wrecking understand something of my deep confusion. I’d been faithful, followed Jesus my whole life. How could God allow me to end up broken and alone? Hadn’t I given my life to Him? Wasn’t I serving Him in ministry? Didn’t my position as child of God afford me some kind of bubble protecting me from calamity? I couldn’t reconcile the God of my innocent child- hood with the God who seemed silent through the ripping apart of my adulthood.
In the absence of answers, I wanted nothing to do with Him.
I couldn’t trust a God who abandoned me in my moment of greatest need. I couldn’t put my heart in the hands of someone who seemed fickle at best, cruel at worst. If He couldn’t grant me an answer to the one prayer I’d prayed more than any other, He must not love me as much as He claimed.
Thus began a bitter season of despair. I avoided church and avoided those who went to church. I buried my pain behind an impenetrable cement exterior, unwilling to allow myself to be duped into another false hope. Before I closed my Bible for a season that lasted about a year, I remember reading, with clenched fists and angry tears, Paul’s words in Romans: “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:3–5).
What?! I wanted to scream. Hope does disappoint! My life was proof of that. Every hope I’d once held had been dashed.
The months that followed my descent into despair were some of the darkest I’d ever experienced. In my bitterness, I bristled like a porcupine, my immature effort to resist relationship and thus keep more pain away. In the process, I discovered a more powerful wound: isolation.
Life without God was equally as painful as life with God. But life without God was absent of relief.
My confusion crescendoed on a dark night while I lay awake, staring at the ceiling, my infant son in the other room. Lonely and afraid, I finally admitted my desperation in the first real prayer I’d prayed in far too long:
God, I don’t understand You! I don’t understand why You’ d allow me to experience so much loss. But I need You more than I need to understand. Please don’t leave me!
This was my turning point, the moment when I packed up my bags and returned to a place of faith, like a prodigal desperate for home. It wasn’t a clean faith, a faith without questions. But it was a real faith, built on the awareness of my need for God even when I couldn’t make sense of Him.
You’d think God would hesitate to receive such a rebellious child back. I’d shaken my fist at Him, ignored the many ways He’d delivered. I’d chosen to focus on the one situation He didn’t fix.
For the love of mercy, rather than shut the door on me, Jesus threw it open wide. He didn’t love me any less as a result of my doubt. Instead, He offered forgiveness and grace and a safe place to heal.
Faith is often messy and riddled with questions. It’s a complicated journey, one further complicated by pain. If you question your faith and struggle to understand this God you can’t fathom, be assured you are not alone. From the beginning, humankind has wrestled with the complexities of a hard life and a loving God. The good news is God already knows your questions. He also knows how your heart longs to believe and trust, even in your doubt.
Rather than walk away from your faith, ask God to build it up, to use your circumstances to deepen your belief. And trust His reassurances that your doubts do not dissuade Him. He receives you still, just as you are, and can help you walk through them.
Like a groom who throws a wedding party without the bride’s help, we arrive in the circle of His affection simply because He loves us and invited us there.
Compassion is His character, kindness His heart.
That’s good news for you and me. Because no matter how far we fall, as long as we turn back to Him, we will be received.
I AM Book Bundle Giveaway
And you’ll be entered to win the I Am Book Bundle: beautiful verse cards designed to enjoy each day of the book. The set comes with an easel to display each 5×7 card for a gorgeous daily reminder of who you are.
Today’s post is come from the pages of Michele’s book—I Am: A 60-day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is— penned during her long and grueling recovery from a third diagnosis of tongue cancer, during which she was permanently altered physically, emotionally and spiritually. In it, she speaks with raw honesty and hard-earned insight about our current identity epidemic and the reason why our best self-help and self-esteem tools aren’t enough to heal our deepest wounds.
Michele and her husband, Troy, live in the mountains of Colorado with their six children, ages 9 to 24. She enjoys a good novel, a long walk, and a kitchen table filled with people. Learn more about Michele @ michelecushatt.com.