It is not great faith to demand something of God.
Let me repeat that.
It is not great faith to demand God to do anything. But that’s what’s happening today. And the #WakeUpOlive movement is only a symptom of a much bigger, and much more terrifying problem in the modern Church.
A Worldwide Movement
A few days ago, my Instagram feed started to fill with post after post from prominent Christian leaders. All of them cried out in great faith, and all of them were asking one thing: for God to resurrect a little girl from the dead. Immediately, my mind went to an image of a little girl in a hospital bed, clinging to life. Perhaps she had been in an accident? Some sort of freak illness? I wasn’t sure–the details were vague. But my curious mind had me search the hashtag and Sherlock Holmes the mystery. It soon became clear that there was no hospital bed. There was no freak illness to speak of. There was only a little girl named Olive who had stopped breathing out of thin air and had been pronounced dead.
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We’re asking for prayer. We believe in a Jesus who died and conclusively defeated every grave, holding the keys to resurrection power. We need it for our little Olive Alayne, who stopped breathing yesterday and has been pronounced dead by doctors. We are asking for bold, unified prayers from the global church to stand with us in belief that He will raise this little girl back to life. Her time here is not done, and it is our time to believe boldly, and with confidence wield what King Jesus paid for. It’s time for her to come to life.
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Tragic. Absolutely terrible. My heart ached, grieved for the parents–the mother a prominent worship leader out of Bethel Church in Redding, California. I cannot imagine what she is going through. I cannot fathom such a grievous loss. I don’t want to, frankly. But I’m an empath, and so when I hear of things like this, there is a part of me that cannot help but to feel things like this. And I felt the sting of the loss of this child in a profound way.
I think that’s why I kept coming back to the hashtag. I couldn’t quite grasp what was happening. Wake Up, Olive? Were the people of her church praying to God for a resurrection?
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We are still believing for a miracle. And I am astonished at the faith that is being stirred for our beloved friends. The global church is alive and well even if we don’t all believe the same thing. I am moved to the core at our willingness to take Jesus at his word. ““I tell you this timeless truth: The person who follows me in faith, believing in me, will do the same mighty miracles that I do—even greater miracles than these because I go to be with my Father!” John 14:12 My friend painted this, it has moved me to tears. Thank @jacobdanielsart for this and for your faith. We are with you @kalleyheili & @apheiligenthal #wakeupolive
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My first response was surprise. Great leaders of my faith wrote eloquent prayers, sang heartfelt songs, begging God on Instagram to reawaken this child–this toddler–from death itself. People from all over the world poured out their support–paintings, songs, prayers, beautiful words, all crying out to God for a mighty miracle. An earth-shattering kind of miracle.
That’s faith, right?
It could be. Maybe it is. Maybe I’m just missing it.
The Great Cosmic Vending Machine
Or maybe this entire movement is a symptom of a much, much bigger heresy in today’s Western Church. Is it great faith to demand something of God? Is it great faith to urge the entire world to pray for something so unlikely? On the surface, it is. On the surface, a worldwide prayer movement looks and feels a lot like revival. It parades in the same garments of the coveted awakening that we as Christians profess to long for. But just a small peek behind the curtains reveals a much uglier truth.
I do not believe such prayers are the result of great faith. I believe such prayers–publicly demanding God to resurrect a (as of the penning of this article) five-days-deceased child–are the direct result of the heresy rampant in our churches today. The Prosperity Gospel. The very idea that God, the Great Cosmic Vending Machine, is waiting to hand out blessings to those who have the right faith, the right words, the right prayers, the right lifestyle. That wealth and wellness and wholeness and yes, even miracles are all signs of the favor that God is just itching to bestow upon his creation.
I’ve bought into the concept that I can speak out a miracle if I just have enough faith.
As a Westerner, I totally understand this mentality. I’ve been a part of many churches and denominations over the course of my life, and as a self-proclaimed Spiritual Mutt, I can attest that I’ve bought into this way of thinking before. I’ve believed that I could live my best life now if I just speak it over myself. I’ve bought into the concept that I can speak out a miracle if I just have enough faith. I believed that my mindset played a huge role in how God would bless me. In a sense, that’s true. My heart and mind are both predictors of my mouth. And my thought patterns absolutely affect my day-to-day existence. Yours affect yours too, whether you like it or not. But the danger in this theology is that it can very swiftly morph into something else. The idea that my best life is attainable with the right mixture of words, faith, and attitude leads to a way of thinking that results in expecting God to perform when, where, and how I pray. It leads to a way of thinking that is formulaic. If this, then that, if you will. If I speak with faith, miracles will happen (not could happen, mind you. Will happen. There is a profound difference in that one word.) If I believe boldly, I can call down heaven and proclaim a resurrection over a tragically deceased little girl. And maybe I can. But I never have. I doubt anyone praying over the #WakeUpOlive movement have, either.
My best life came when I stopped seeking my own will for it.
But I do, in fact, live my best life. Already. Every day. I love it. But my best life is not the life I had envisioned for myself. My best life came about when I surrendered my ideas of how my life should look and submitted to a Holy God. My best life manifested when I admitted that I didn’t have it figured out, that my ideas for what’s best for me weren’t best at all. My best life came when I stopped seeking my own will for it. My best life is a life that knows God is sovereign and I’m not. My best life is a life that prays in faith and surrenders in humility. My best life is a life that says, God knows, I don’t, and that’s not only okay, that’s how it’s supposed to be.
Do you see it? Do you see the difference?
The rub I have with the #WakeUpOlive movement is not the faith. It’s not the hope. It’s not the unity of the Church. Those are beautiful things. Good things. The rub I have is the very heart of the prayers and the very audacity to demand anything of a Holy God. The very idea that God will bend his sovereign will to those he created in the first place. The rub I have is that no one is talking about caring for the grieving family. No one is having frank conversations about how to navigate unthinkable tragedy well. That’s the role of the Church — to be the hands and feet of God. To love. To hold. To care. To walk alongside. NOT to demand of God that which is not ours to demand. Can God resurrect her? Yes. Absolutely. I 100% know that the Creator of the Universe is capable of the humanly impossible. The question is will he resurrect her. After 5 days, I can answer with a confident “no.” Is that because he’s bad? Evil? Unfair? No. It’s because he’s sovereign. He gives and he takes away. At will. For reasons we can’t always understand. For reasons we may never understand. That doesn’t make him a maniac, that makes him SOVEREIGN. There is a difference.
So if I, as his creation, demand of him, if I say, “God, you MUST do this because you’ve done it before,” I’ve essentially said, “You don’t know what you’re doing. I do.” The #WakeUpOlive movement is not a great testament of faith, it is a dangerous picture that too many Christians paint of God. When we worship a God who will give us what we ask for as long as we come to him with the right heart, the right words, and the right formula, we worship a maniac.
But when we worship a God who is sovereign, whose ways are higher than ours, and to whom we’ve fully submitted ourselves, then and only then do we begin to grasp our place in his world. Then and only then can we begin to make sense of tragedy. He has a reason for all things, including early death. Including untimely death. Including the loss of a child. Teaching anything else, is heresy.
The old man smiled. “Weep, my son. Weep for what you wanted. Weep for the life you thought you would have. And once your soul is purged, look into my face and let me show you what I had for you all along.”
~Excerpt from The Chalam Færytales, Book V (yet to be published). Copyright 2019 Morgan G Farris. All rights reserved. If you share this anywhere, please tag me. It’s just the right thing to do.
I thought I’d try something new. A way to share with you my WIPs without giving away spoilers or plot points. So I’m calling this “Non Sequiturs.” A place in which I share with you random bits from current projects for you to get a sample of raw, unedited manuscripts, whilst simultaneously peering behind the curtain of what it’s like to write a novel. So today, I bring you this Non Sequitur, lovingly entitled: You Would Have Made A Fine Grand Duke.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
“It’s a pity you were not born male,” Ezra said. “You would have made a fine Grand Duke.” And as first born, she would have been. Ezra had never understood the rather archaic system under which they lived and the insistence that only males could inherit titles. Esther most certainly should have been Grand Duchess of Kinnereth.
“I, for one, am not sorry she was born female,” said John, and to this, Ezra couldn’t help but chuckle.
Esther, however, ignored the comment completely. “The point is, there are plenty of eligible and agreeable matches for you, Ezra. You needn’t bother finding companionship with someone so—wrong for you.”
“I appreciate the life advice, but I will thank you to keep your nose out of my business.”
Esther stood, slapping her hands on her thighs as she did. “This is your life you’re talking about! Our lives! All of us—even John Junior! Are you going to throw all of this away simply because you are too stubborn to listen to reason?” Esther stopped, catching her belly and wincing. John was instantly at her side, a hand at the small of her back. Ezra stood, too, worried that his sister was working herself into a frenzy.
“You should rest, love,” John said. “You don’t need to get so upset.”
“I wouldn’t be upset if my brother would think with the head on his shoulders and not the one in his trousers!”
“And with that rather colorful description, I think we’re done with this conversation,” John said, attempting to usher Esther back into her chair. But she did not flinch.
“I need to walk,” she said, pushing out of her husband’s arms and bustling across the room without a backward glance. John did not follow her, instead watching her as she waddled rather like a duck from the room.
“Shouldn’t you follow your wife?” Ezra asked, plopping back down on the settee, rubbing between his eyes with his thumb and forefinger.
“Right now? I’d sooner follow a mother bear into a den of cubs.”
All content is the sole copyright of Morgan G Farris. Any unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws. If you post this anywhere on the internet, please tag my social accounts. Share the love, folks.
My Interview with Voyage Dallas
Recently, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Voyage Dallas Magazine, a local magazine dedicated to the entrepreneurs and visionaries in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, metroplex. In the article, you’ll learn a little bit about my journey from musician to author to publisher, and what’s in store for the future!
Check out the article below!
Happy Birthday, The Promised One. You’re still my favorite.
I can’t believe it’s been a WHOLE YEAR since The Promised One made its debut in the world! What a year it has been!
In celebration, for one day only, you can get 36.5% off the signed edition of TPO on my website only! (36.5. Get it? 365 days. I mean, you get it, right?) #CleverMarketing
Just use the code TPOBIRTHDAY at checkout! Get your copy here! And if you already have one, pick one up for your friends!
I want to inspire you today.
I hear this a lot: “Gosh, Morgan, is there anything you can’t do?”
And I cringe when I hear it, to be honest, because DEAR SWEET JESUS, YES THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS I CANNOT DO. Just the other night, I went to play Top Golf with my friends and, well, let’s just say I proved my ineptitude for anything remotely athletic. I’m a spaz, to be quite honest. While God may have gifted me in the artistic arena, he definitely did not see fit to bestow even an iota of coordination into my blood. Bless.
This is not a pity party. In fact, what I used to lament, I’ve come to be grateful for. Yes, in elementary school, it stung when the kids fought over who wouldn’t have to have me on their team that week.
“We had her last week! Y’all have to take her!”
(Yes, they actually said that.)
As an adult, I’ve come to be thankful for what I can do, and what I cannot. It’s okay to not be perfect at everything (my recovering inner perfectionist is currently shouting, “Yas, queen!”). It’s okay to only have a few talents. Find them. Then exploit them. As the great Dolly Parton once said, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”
Find out who you are and do it on purpose.
A Light Came On
So I found out who I am. After a long time, and taking inventory of all I’ve done and all that makes me tick, I finally figured out that at my core, I’m a storyteller. A writer. Yes, I’m also a musician and artist. But all my songs tell a story. So does all of my art. And words. Words are my favorite. When I figured that out, it was as if a veil had been lifted. I had spent the better part of my twenties pursuing a career in music, being terrified of the outcome the entire time.
Yes, I wanted to be a rock star. No, I did NOT want to be famous. And I couldn’t figure out why until I figured out who I was. When I realized that writing was my thang (misspelling intentional, people), a veil was lifted. A burden was removed. A light came on. I realized that all that music in me was really a result of the words I so loved. All that songwriting was a symptom of a bigger calling—writing.
I Figured Out Who I Am
Writing is what I love. A writer is who I am at my very core.
I used to joke that the only reason I passed college was because of my impeccable ability to b.s. my way through a term paper. And it was, for all intents and purposes, precisely true. But I still didn’t realize I was a writer. And for the better part of my life, the thought of writing a novel made me want to barf.
So in 2014 when out of nowhere, I wrote 3 novels in 3 months, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I thought I had lost my mind, or gone mad, or something like that. I’ll never forget the night when, in the midst of a powerful spring thunderstorm, my husband sat me down under the tin roof of our deck and asked me if I was okay. I was writing practically twenty-four seven. I couldn’t stop. It consumed me in a way that I didn’t understand at the time. In the pounding rain and wicked lightning, my husband and I had to wrestle with what was going on. Looking back, I think that was really a result of ignoring that part of me for so long. I think all that prolific writing was the overflow of a lifetime of stories dancing in my mind, just waiting to erupt.
We All Have To Start Somewhere
But that didn’t mean they were any good.
In fact, they were horrible. (Yes, the title of this post had a purpose. Here it is. You’re welcome.)
The first three novels I wrote were horrible.
I don’t mean that lightly. I mean that with all sincerity, hand on the Bible, cross my heart and hope to die. THEY. WERE. DREADFUL.
My poor husband and best friend martyred themselves and read them anyway, all the while stroking my ego and telling me what a pretty girl I am (okay, that’s sarcasm, but you get the idea). It gave me the gumption to keep writing. Keep refining. Keep working at my craft.
I joke nowadays that those three novels are so bad, not even God himself is allowed to read them. But do you know what they did? They taught me. I learned. I began really honing the craft of storytelling—particularly novel writing. They were a gateway to what became The Chalam Færytales. And they were bad. But they taught me to be better.
So be inspired today. You have a gift. You just might need to find it. Don’t worry—I was over thirty when I figured mine out. And even when you find it, it might need some refining. That’s awesome! Refine it! Work at it! Keep going, keep pressing in to that thing that makes you tick. Don’t stop. Don’t let time or age or fear or lack of knowledge or anything else stop you. Go. Do it.
You’ve got it in you.
Because maybe, just maybe, the world is waiting for that thing you have to offer.