Friday, October 9, 2015

Help Me With My Half-Belief

I went to a Book of Acts level house-church service last night.  That's the only way I can describe it.  Last week, a dear, sweet sister-friend of mine gave me a couple of books she felt would really speak into me during this season of my life.  She was right-on.  As I read them, I became aware that I needed her and a few others to pray the Father's tender love into me.

(As I texted her this morning - I would have needed that gentle refilling anyway.  I didn't realize how much I was weary in doing good.  The signs were there but my Dad's death showed me with alarming clarity that I was doing so much in my own strength.  The wound was there.  My Dad's passing just made the hole that much larger.)

So, we set it up.  No one really knew, even Sarah and I, what to expect.  When you turn everything over to God, He shows up in totally unexpected and fantastic ways.  It was better than we could have imagined even if we'd tried.  For me personally, I was able to grieve in the comforting arms of my heart family (everyone needs people like this....where you can be totally walls is what Christianity is really all about.)  I entered into the story of Mary and Martha meeting Jesus after Lazarus' death.  I went there with all the pain and anguish of losing my Dad, which I'd not really touched deeply since he passed.  They laid loving hands on me as I cried on their knees.  Sarah anointed my head with pomegranate oil as I washed Jesus' feet with my tears.

Following that (there was so much more to come even though that release would have been enough), I was knocked over by the power of God so I could receive the light and warmth of the re-filling/overfilling of Christ's love for me.

After that (yes, still more), they prayed the heaviness off of me: those burdens I've carried for 3 long weeks (and truly longer).  THEN AFTER THAT (yep, still more), we took communion together.  It was just otherworldly.  I have never experienced the Body and Blood of Christ in a way that literally changed me from the inside out.  Warmth spread over my chest in a physical reflection of His love.  I could breath more freely than I have in weeks (and possibly ever). That feeling has yet to leave me and I pray it never does.  Jesus showed me, in a physical way, His burden is SO MUCH LIGHTER THAN MY OWN. (Matthew 11:27-28).

Then (still going) we laughed and praised and danced and celebrated in the joy of the Lord like total IDIOTS.  My cheeks cramped and my abs are sore today from laughing so hard.  We continued to pray and share until it was finally time to go home.  I fell asleep with the lightness and warmth in my heart and a smile on my face.

I know that's a long story but I share it for one reason: to let you know what is possible with God.  When my friend Cindi and I were driving home, we were discussing her vision.  She (literally) saw angels around the crown molding in the room.  Sarah then, a few minutes later, saw the trumpets the angels held.  They didn't just see it with spiritual sight.  THEY ACTUALLY SAW THEM.

There's a part of our minds that wants to write things like that off, even though you know they are real.  You question what you are seeing and lean into it couldn't be real; you are making it all up inside your head.  Our flesh wants to write it off.  Why? A lot of reasons, but I think mostly because we don't want people to think we are crazy and it doesn't make sense.  The supernatural is hard to process because it is well...not natural.

What do you think would happen, though, if we stopped questioning so much?  Most people I know aren't prone to hallucinations.  They are rational and lucid, so experiencing things like what happened to us last night - can and does happen.  I have to wonder - what if it isn't our faith we have to suspend but rather our skepticism about God and what He will do? 

This is not a new question.  Eric Metaxas recently released an excellent exposition on the miraculous (simply called Miracles.  I highly recommend).  C.S. Lewis explored their possibility in one of his books (also simply titled Miracles, which I'm about to read).  Believing in the supernatural wonders of God is not a new question, but it is the one us Western-educated people seem to struggle with the most.  We find the struggle in Scripture, too, of course.

It's the same question Jesus posed to the father of the possessed boy in Mark 9.  The Complete Jewish Bible translates verse 23 as:  What do you mean, 'if you can'? Everything is possible to someone who has trust!  Eugene Peterson's The Message puts that verse like this: If?  There are no 'ifs' among believers.  Anything can happen!

The father responds with faith - or rather what I would call half-faith. As Cindi and I talked last night, a thought came to me.  It isn't really unbelief or true doubt.  We can't imagine what is possible because we've never seen it.  Even though Scripture tells us to walk by faith and not by sight, we are still very, very visual creatures.  Really I should say sensual; by which I mean we experience this world through our 5 senses.

Yet, God consistently asks us to step out of what we can touch, taste, see, hear and feel.  For those that do, we are rewarded with richer, fuller faith.  He did say those who believe and don't see would be blessed (John 20:29).  The Lord God made us for tangible experiences, even as He is intangible.  So, in faith, or should I say, by faith alone, we are to trust when we step out into blank space, He will catch us by providing the foundation to land on.

It's hard.  I know.  Even seeing what I've seen, it is still hard to come out of my own head.  I want to know what to expect.  I want to know what He is going to do.  That's just not the way He works.  So, it is easier to stay in my lane, expecting nothing or (worse) what has happened before.  This is the Creator we are talking about though.  If no two snowflakes are the same, why would His answers to prayer be the same?

I looked up the Greek word in Mark 9:24 for "unbelief."  A lack of belief isn't completely accurate - it is better to say lack of faithfulness or "want of faith."  The boy's father clearly had enough faith to come to Christ, so for that reason alone, I can say he clearly had some faith. 

Still, his challenge, and the challenge to us, is to believe in God's choice of the way to work, rather than our own understanding or choosing of the way things work (Proverbs 3:4-5).  The Lord set the laws of the universe into motion and, generally speaking, works within that known order.  However, He doesn't have to - or more realistically - our knowledge of the laws that govern our existence are still (even with all the advances and technology) impartial at best.  If anything, our discoveries show us how little we actually do know.  

So, Jesus is asking the father - and us - to stop limiting Him.  Stop expecting to know what He is able to do.  Stop trying to guess how He will work, or worse, tell Him what He should do.  He wants us, as His children, to humbly come, expecting He is going to do something - and it will be better and more complete than what we could dream up.

I close with the boundaries of my limits being pushed.  Here's my version of Mark 9:23: Just come with Me.  Just go with what I am doing.  I can do anything.  Do you believe Me?

And after last night - this is my new response: I believe me stop half-believing and fully trust You can and will do abundantly more than I can ask or think or expect.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This is awesome! I am inspired and encouraged to belief that God will blow my mind! It is so!