“Because you’re not yet taking God seriously”

— Matthew 17:20 MSG

Why hasn’t my life changed? Why haven’t the promises I know God gave me come to pass? I think it’s “‘Because you’re not yet taking God seriously,’ said Jesus. ‘The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle’” (Matthew17:20 MSG). That’s what Jesus said to us.

Has God indeed given us the keys, but have we failed to properly use them, just because we haven’t taken Him seriously? “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19). What have you “loosed” into your life, and what have you bound—not in some wild, loud prayer, but in a way that will move mountains, by simply speaking it, the same way Jesus did?

Are happiness and prosperity, the abundant life Jesus died to give you, reigning free in your life? Or have you, instead, loosed doom, gloom, fear and failure?

The final hurdle, I believe, is when you and I really and completely walk around, speak about and meditate on what we believe about our situation. Speak to and about our mountain in a manner that will unleash the power that God gave us to cast it into the sea—setting us free to receive His blessings on our lives. We need to “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12).

The power to move mountains, just like salvation or the baptism of the Holy Spirit, is not something that we need to earn. God gave. Being free from debt, pain, worry and sin are all the same to God. None is less achievable with Him, and therefore it is simply offered to us without any of our effort or costing us anything. Who does God include in this offer? Why, “you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buywithout money and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1). Will your doubt and fear cause you to stumble over what I believe may be the “final” hurdle, as happened with me?

I believe that my final hurdle may also be the most important, because the finish line is finally in sight. However, our final hurdle often is the most difficult, because, for one thing, we are tired. My final hurdle came against me with brute force and unexpectedly, pulling out all the stops and boundaries that I believed protected me.

Let me ask you something: Will what you and I naturally see and feel cause us to imagine, believe and speak doom, gloom and discouragement? Or will you and I, instead, see that mountain supernaturally—based entirely on His promises and on the baby steps we have already faithfully taken? The choice is ours. Did you notice that I include myself in this question? I did, because I believe I had seen that my mountain of debt was showing signs of falling, and I want my feelings, now and forever, to reflect my beliefs, rather than the foreboding spirit that is trying to take hold of me.

In this chapter I will attempt to share my final hurdle; the question is what form will yours take?

Final?

One after another, the mountains were falling left and right, large and small, and then…out of nowhere, I get a huge, thick envelope—a letter from my ex-husband disguised as if he’d sent a check. The check was actually for my daughter, a reimbursement to me for her car’s tires. “It’s a check,” my youngest daughter said, when she happily handed me the envelope. Did you know that the enemy will gain access to your mind, soul, body and spirit in ways, and when, and from whom you least expect? I knew that, and yet I was relaxed and not really sober in my thinking, due mainly to the fact that recent events had meant that we (my ex-husband, his new wife, and her children) as a group, were getting along famously. Recently, I had even entertained them in my home, not once, but twice, due to the wedding of my son.

“So then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6). “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1Peter 5:8). Devour me, he did.

Without thinking, I began to read a horribly vile, condemning letter, loaded with accusations and terrifying threats. Before I knew what had hit me, I heard the Lord tell me to stop reading it, which I did, but not soon enough—what I’d read had already taken hold and crushed my heart. That night, I tossed and turned, praying without ceasing, asking God for the whys and hows, to know how to answer it. All the while, I was begging Him to allow me to not have to answer, but instead I was seeking a way to, again, bless my enemy.

Let me veer off for a moment and confess something to you. My flesh wants to take this chapter out of the book. If I’m being honest, my greatest concern, even more than the possibility that I will lose your respect, is that the principle I’m sharing will be misused: used to feed the flesh of those who harbor anger and would love, more than anything, to have a reason, an excuse really, to abuse the principle. And yet, my audience (you dear reader), I believe you to be of the true nature of His bride. Therefore, as His bride, His love has changed your very nature into one of peace, gentleness, goodness and loving those who mistreat you.

Now, back to the hurdle. All in all, this new battle coming against me raged on for more than a week, mostly due to a battle plan that I was not accustomed to, nor familiar with, and that, therefore, I was more than hesitant to take. Prior to this fateful day, I had come to know, embrace and live a life of non-resistance, agreeing with and blessing my enemies. So, as you will certainly be able to imagine, when the Lord had me respond to what was said in complete honesty, yet boldly and, to my shock, in a way that was cynical and at times sarcastic, I questioned my walk with God, my ability to hear Him correctly, and, in many ways, I panicked and felt as if my world was spinning out of control.

Throughout this ordeal, I began asking God “for a word,” something that I haven’t needed for years. I knew His promises, His ways, His methods and His principles—to the point that the ways of God were hidden deep in my heart, so His Word was always there to guide me. But what do you and I do, when what we sense He is telling us, what we know He is telling us, is contrary to all that is peaceful? Our world shakes, quivers, and it shows up in our bodies, minds and spirits.

Yet, God continues to be faithful, unshaken, once again proving, as He said, that “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8–9 NIV). Though I didn’t understand, and certainly didn’t want to, I obeyed.

When I finished responding to the first, long, horrible letter, I let my email sit in my email drafts, not wanting to send it. I desperately needed a sign, a word, and I frantically wanted to know, to understand, why. So, I ventured into my prayer closet, a place I rarely have to visit any more. Long gone were the days when I needed to go there in order to hear His still, small voice; it had been almost two years, since I found that I could hear Him anywhere and everywhere. Yet, when confusion enters the mind, it penetrates the soul, and the spiritual connection experiences interference, largely due to fear.

While seeking Him in my prayer closet, rather than giving me answers to my questions, the Lord simply asked me, “Michele, why don’t you want to send the email?” My answer was simple, and it caught me off-guard. It was because I was afraid. I was afraid that if I didn’t simply “agree” to what my ex-husband had said, and agree to his threatening terms, he would seek revenge. To which He asked me, “And what happens when we base what we do on fear?” My answer again was simple, “Our decision is always wrong.”

The Lord continued to ask me why else I didn’t want to send it, and that was because I was worried what people would think of me—people like my ex-husband, his wife, my children, and even you, my readers, along with all the RMI’s followers. Yes, He showed me that rather than focusing on what He thought of me, I had turned my attention to what others would think—again, a mistake.

Coming out of my prayer closet, and now focused on His plan (that made no sense to me), I sent the email.

It took about two days to get the reply I dreaded. My whole being, once again, wanted to run and hide, finding a way of escape, simply because I was not doing what I had done before—I wanted to bless; I wanted to agree; I wanted to go with the flow. “I mean, dear Lord, hadn’t I just written about this very principle of non-resistance in the chapter that was just posted on RMI’s website?” Again, I fought the thoughts of what everyone would think, knowing deep down in the recesses of my heart that what mattered is what HE alone thought of me, and to resist Him was worse than resisting this vile evil that kept coming at me.

Throughout this entire battle (that I believe had to be my final hurdle), the Lord was patient and kept giving me a word, here and there, as I asked Him. When I asked God why I was no longer responding in peace and agreement (but only after I’d obeyed and sent the response), I was surprised to read in the little devotional God Calling (that I keep in my prayer closet) this…

“Listen, listen, I am your Lord. Before Me there is none other. Just trust me in everything. Help is here all the time. The difficult way is nearly over, but you have learnt it in lessons you could learn in no other way.

“The Kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and it is the violent who take it by force.”

Wrest from me, by firm and simple trust and persistent prayer, the treasures of My Kingdom. Such wonderful things are coming to you, Joy— Peace— Assurance— Security— Health— Happiness— Laughter.

Claim big, really big things now. Remember nothing is too big. Satisfy the longing of My Heart to give. Blessing, abundant blessing, on you both now and always. Peace.

After the second email that I responded to (each paragraph, with sarcastic, yes, cynical responses, having no idea where they were coming from)—I panicked and asked God to help me, please, to understand, since I knew this was “not right,” especially when I actually mocked my ex-husband’s accusations. The Lord then showed me a vision of the powerful Elijah, exhibited when he was high atop the city—mocking the Baal priests. When I went to look it up, I first stumbled onto the book of Second Kings, entitled, “Judgment upon Ahab’s House.”

Chapter 10, Verse 10 said something incredible, “Know then that there shall fall to the earth nothing of the word of the LORD, which the LORD spoke concerning the house of Ahab, for the LORD has done what He spoke through His servant Elijah.” This was almost identical to what the Lord had spoken to me two years ago when my ex-husband had left. I should have known it was actually written in the Bible.

Yet, the verse that helped me the most was the last battle, the final hurdle that Elijah was to overcome, as described in First Kings under the heading, “God or Baal.” “It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them [the prophets of Baal] and said, ‘Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god [Baal whom they served]; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened’” (1 King 18:27). Was it Elijah, or was it God who spoke through Elijah?

“Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!’ He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury” (Psalm 2:1–5).

The way I was responding was not in a manner that I felt comfortable with, because I’m so comfortable living “Peacefully.” But was my peace at any cost?

While speaking to my children, the Lord showed me the headlines that I had read as a teenager, which covered the front page of every newspaper—“America Held Hostage”—which was about one of our US presidents, who was mocked at the time, saying he a coward, because he allowed this atrocity, by giving in to the threats imposed. As I read it, I heard God ask me if being a coward is what I would choose for my children or the women who I was hoping to encourage. Or, would I instead encourage others, by my own example, to move fearlessly toward the battle? What would I choose, if I had to make a choice?

It was then that the Lord showed me something I had never seen before. During my reply to my ex-husband  (when I said that I would no longer comply with any more of his threats regarding what I could publish or post on the RMI website—which he was reading daily—so it would be futile for him to threaten me again), that’s when I realized that I had unknowingly continued to allow my ex-husband to run the ministry God gave me—and even to control portions of RMI—that’s how far reaching my complying to threats could go!

Something else I’d like to share…several years ago, I heard something that the author John Bevere said while speaking at our church, and it made a deep impression on me. He said, “If you do not use the God-given authority that He gave you, someone else will take it and use it against you!”

This is not to say that I had done the wrong thing, when I didn’t fight my ex-husband, when he blocked my eCommerce website almost immediately after the divorce (or it may even have been before the divorce was final. I can’t remember now.) Nor was it that God was telling me that I should have called the police and had my ex-husband arrested (as so many of my friends and family members had begged me to do), when he came to my warehouse while I was traveling and destroyed cases of RMI’s books, devotionals and videotapes that I bought to sell. No, it was not a mistake, but now things were different—this, as I said, I believe and hope is my final hurdle that was looming in front of me.

There was another thing the Lord showed me that shocked me. It concerned my new friendship with my ex-husband and his wife (and their children), which is why I was caught so off-guard by this vile letter. Again, while asking for “a word, just a word,” since I was so sure and terrified that I had fallen out of favor or intimacy with the Lord, I was not understanding why I responded the way that I did to his letters full of accusations and threats, rather than just ignore or agree.

It was then that I simply opened my Bible to see “Alliance Displeases God.” While reading on, it stated in 2 Chronicles 20:35, “After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied himself with Ahaziah king of Israel. He acted wickedly in so doing.” This was done by the same king who had earlier prayed, “Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us” (2 Chronicles 20:9).

This verse then led me to remember one of my favorite passages of the Bible, when King Asa makes the same foolish mistake by seeking the friendship with his enemies, rather than trusting God to deliver. “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the whole earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Yet, even seeing these verses that came to mind instantly each time I asked the Lord for confirmation that what I was doing was His plan, I still felt unsure, since the way I have been living for the past sixteen years of my life has been the exact opposite of what I was doing now. For more than a decade, my very nature has been transformed; my whole being has been made new. “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelations 21:5). “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19).

While writing this chapter, the Lord brought to mind and led me to read a verse that most of us know, but I have never actually quoted. It is, from the wisest man, Solomon, when he tries to explain that there is a time for everything.He says,

“There is an appointed time for everything.

And there is a time for every event under heaven—

A time to give birth and a time to die;

            A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.

A time to kill and a time to heal;

            A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to weep and a time to laugh;

            A time to mourn and a time to dance.

A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;

            A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.

A time to search and a time to give up as lost;

            A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;

            A time to be silent and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate;

            A time for war and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

Just as I had shared time and again in all my books, a good way to see if what you are doing (or you are about to do) is of God, is to ask yourself if it feels good to your flesh, or, does it need the help of the Holy Spirit to carry it out? Without a doubt, my flesh cringed at the thought of saying anything remotely close to what I wrote in each of my email replies.

Though we are all born with a sinful, angry nature, once refined (a process that often takes years, as it did with me), that person is no longer the same. For too many of you, telling your ex-husband off would feel great! And, as I said, it is really not about what we do, since many of us don’t say something, due to fear or because we worry about what other people would think of us.

What the Lord is showing all of us is simply this: what we do, or what someone else does, cannot be judged by what we see. That’s why we must never judge anyone or anything that a person does, because what we don’t see (the reason behind their actions) is really what counts. It is what God sees, and how He tests us, to see if we are real. Or maybe it is more so that He can show us what we are really all about. “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests hearts” (Proverbs 17:3).

Initially, I didn’t want to respond. Then, once written, I didn’t want to send it, mainly due to fear and concern about what others would think of me. Surely, I believed myself to have left these shortcomings long ago, but they are still present in my life, and both are character flaws that will hold me back from the place and position where God has called me. The same goes for anything God continues to bring to the surface in your life.

These are, hopefully, the final hurdles that you need to get over, in order to move your mountain. But once you get over this, you will find you are left with emotions, those feelings, which must be channeled toward the right frequency of energy that will ultimately make or break your mountain.

But before going to the next chapter, let me share just one more thing. For you to come to the place where you can move a mountain, you have to come right up to it. When you are miles from the final hurdle, the height and magnitude of your mountain may look large, but not the way it does when you are standing at the foot of it. Standing there, at the very bottom, you look up to see your mountain is HUGE. Standing there, you see there is no other way around it; it has to move.

God purposely brings us smack up in front of it: there’s no money left in your account; there’s no possible cure; there’s no way to contact your loved-one—the impossibilities are endless, and you are out of ideas to know how to deal with it.

For the wicked man to be no more, the wickedness needed (and still needs) to increase. There is no other way. “Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there” (Psalm 37:10). “How great are Your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep. A senseless man has no knowledge, nor does a stupid man understand this: That when the wicked sprouted up like grass and all who did iniquity flourished, it was only that they might be destroyed forevermore” (Psalm 92:5–7).

This is the way God works—He purposely allows everything to become impossible. He also waits until the last moment to move: didn’t He wait until the last moment with the honeymoon that was going to be lost, only to “at the last minute” turn it into the blessing of a romantic wedding and honeymoon for my son and his fiancé?

All of you have your own “last minute” and “things got worse” testimonies, so rehearse them now. And if you tend to struggle regularly, be sure to write them down, and, better yet, submit your praise like I do to RMIEW’s website, so the whole world will know how “nothing is impossible with God”—not even the final, unexpected, hurdle.