A number of variables have contributed to this change in me, but one realization has stood out: To have faith doesn't mean you have to be fully confident and have it all figured out, you just have to have enough faith to take the first step.
I have always been fascinated with Luke 17:6: "He replied, 'If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you."
I first heard this verse as a little girl in Sunday School and though no one told me to interpret it this way, I would think it meant to have real faith you have to fully know that what you believe should happen will. Like when you stand and say to the mulberry tree to uproot and move to the sea, you are 100% sure that it will happen in the way you envisioned. If you have any doubt at all, the mulberry tree will not move because you did not have enough faith or the right kind of faith.
Yet, I am not 100% sure of most things in my life. Yes, there are some certainties, the love for my family and friends never waivers but I am not always 100% sure I am doing this parenting thing right or that I have made all the right decisions regarding my career, family and life.
I still don't have Luke 17:6 all figured out, but now that verse speaks a little bit differently to me. My understanding of faith now is that you stand looking at the mulberry tree in your life and you just have enough faith to take the first step. You ask God to move the tree. You can be nervous, unsure, anxiety ridden, full of doubt, but you still stand there knowing that Jesus is Lord and you ask for the tree to move and have enough faith to put one foot forward. The tree may not move in the way that you imagined or in the time frame that you wanted but despite the fact that you don't know how God is going to do it, you know deep in your heart that God will move that tree by either changing your situation or changing you and perhaps nothing about the situation.
Life has given me plenty of opportunities to watch God move many mulberry trees in my life. In some ways God has answered my prayers and life has turned out how it want it: I am married to a man I deeply love and we are blessed with three amazing kids. But, in many ways life has surprised me. Moving away from my family to live where my husband grew up. Choosing to go back to work and be a part-time working mom over a stay-at-home-mom. My pursuit of writing and photography and chasing the dreams that enrich my life so deeply. My mom having to battle breast cancer and thankfully, winning. The journey of parenting and how deeply it moves me to love my little people in a way that takes my breath away. Friendships and relationships that have grown and deepened or healed and remained true despite the many bumps life holds.
But all of this has happened through doubt and uncertainty and nervousness and I see that despite me often not feeling like I have enough faith, God always shows up and he moves my mulberry tree into the sea whether it is by changing my circumstances or just changing me.
Because of this realization, I approach faith differently now: I focus only on the next step.
To have faith I don't have to understand the entirety of religion, why bad things happen and what God is doing in my life, in my friends and families' lives and in the world around me. I will never see and understand the big picture the way that God does and that is okay. Thank goodness I don't have to have it all figured out to have faith.
But, I can know that Jesus is Lord and trust that He will lead me and focus on having enough faith to take the first step. Even when my heart feels unsure and scared. Then I can have enough faith to take the second step, then the third and each next step that follows God's leading. Eventually, when I look back I can see how far God's moved me. I can see that He has indeed moved my mulberry tree.
My faith is not perfect and will never be. No matter what I do, my faith will never be where I want it to be.
How that lightens my load.
It is not about me and if my faith is perfect or not but about the powerful God that I worship and want to serve and have a personal relationship with. And what He is willing to do in my life that brings Him glory when I have faith that is perhaps even smaller than a mustard seed to take that first step.