Sunday, 05 June 2011
I woke up this morning praying. As usual, I was inept, clumsy and disjointed in my efforts to present an intelligent, cognitive and organized -- even passionate attempt at addressing God. Instead, I jumped here, there and everywhere as I drifted in and out of wakefulness. This effort of seeming futility seemed to adequately reflect the flow and direction of my life in general. There has often been a high level of aggravation, frustration, discouragement and occasionally even a degree of despair. Everything frequently feels out of control and unproductive -- inane and insane!
And again, as I was reminded of it, this morning I was compelled to revisit the story of the distraught father who brought his demon possessed son to Jesus! The disciples of Jesus had been unable to drive out the spirit that had tormented this boy during his brief life. In utter despair the father turned to Jesus. He described the terrible things happening to him: This "...spirit has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth and becomes rigid... It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him." He continued, "But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us" (Mark 9:14-27 [NIV]).
"What do you mean, 'If you can?' said Jesus. 'Everything is possible for him who believes.'" It’s the father's response that simply floors me: "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" This emotionally charged cry of the father has snagged and riveted my attention. What resonates so deeply with me is the humanity of it! In a very few words, the boy's father has captured the profound significance of our humanity. There is both hope and despair, courage and fear, confidence and doubt -- "I believe; help my unbelief."
The man wasn’t questioning Jesus' ability to help -- no, not at all! Rather, it seems his fear was focused primarily upon himself. He knew himself all too well and was quite aware that he and his faith were not enough; not then -- not ever. At best, his faith was faltering and he unashamedly admitted it. Touched by the transparency and vulnerability of this man, "Jesus took the [his] son by the hand, lifted him to his feet and he stood up." The child was made whole and returned to his father. I believe Jesus would have been less impressed with this man had he gushed with absolute unwavering confidence like Peter had done on one occasion: "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death" (Luke 22:31-34). Jesus took him down a notch or ten. "Peter... you will deny three times that you know me. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail."
Like this father, it is critical that we come clean. We must admit that we are but flesh (human), susceptible to all that this involves. The Lord is pleased when we come to Him with our meager mustard seed faiths, confessing our inability to make life work without Him. "Lord, I believe; Help me overcome my unbelief!"
It is only here, in this intense but humble cry, that we experience the Lord's favor, wholeness and power to deal effectively with the impossibilities of life.When have you had a moment of unbelief? When has your faith faltered? How has God reached you in those moments?