But Does He Have the Ganas?
Around the table, fingers flipped through thin white pages and skimmed headings and margin notes for a clue as to the whereabouts of a story that may, or may not exist.
My class of good sports let doubt fall to my favor, not quite ready to confirm or deny whether I’d made the story up. I couldn’t even confirm or deny, truth be told.
We had to move on before we answered it. So the assignment for our next meeting? Browse the Gospels to see if, in fact, Jesus did have this conversation I had imagined.
We dove head-first into a study of Paul Miller’s A Praying Life, discussion around the table raw and honest about that nagging question we ask deep in the shadows, never quite outside our own hearts unless we’re sure no one will hear: Does prayer even do any good? We wondered aloud why we ask God when we presume He’s just going to do what He wants to anyway. It feels silly sometimes to tell Him what He already knows. And does He maybe get bored because day after day after day we tell Him the same things over and over and over?
Could we skip a day — a week, a month — and it wouldn’t even matter because God could play from holy Tivo what we’d said just a while ago and not notice we didn’t show up?
We stepped just briefly into that murkiest of swamps where I can’t see to tie the boat to the anchor, the frayed disconnect between what God can and what God will.
This is where we paddled around trying to lift this story out of the weeds, while I hoped against hope that it wasn’t just a conversation familiar to me because I’d had it with God so many times, but that it was actually written in those black letters against the red.
Who was it, really, who said to Jesus, If you are willing, you can make me clean?
Was it only my voice I heard, not doubting His power, but unsure of His desire?
And then I found it. Last Wednesday, to be exact. I’d been staring at these other words for a few days, early in Mark’s Gospel:
29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. (Mark 1)
So much wonder in these verses, of the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law and her immediate response of service. Of the whole town camping out at Simon’s door because the Rabbi was there. Of more healing, more deliverance, more compassion, more love. And then my amusement at His clamping shut the mouths of demons found suddenly among the homeless. Because you know how demons can blather on and on and on.
On Wednesday I moved on, stumbling into the very words I’d forgotten I was to seek, finding the leper in that same tension between what He knew the Healer could do and what he thought the Healer might want to do. Listen to him:
40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
41 Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. (Mark 1, emphasis added)
You gotta have the want-to, Jesus. You gotta have the ganas.
And if I’m honest, this is where my faith always seems to break down. I don’t doubt God’s power. I don’t doubt His ability. I don’t doubt His existence.
I don’t doubt that God created the earth, that Jesus was God in flesh, that He lived among us, died on the cross, stormed hell’s gates, blasted out of the grave alive after three days, shot back into heaven, sent His Spirit to live and breathe in us. I don’t doubt that He’s coming to reclaim us and to establish a new heaven and new earth.
My questions all heap on this one tiny stool, where I sit with the leper and say, If you want to. But I’m not sure you do.
And this question, Do you have the ganas, Jesus? will keep me from making my biggest asks any day of the week because I don’t want to hear Him say, I don’t.
But this same Jesus, whose good intentions I question, who ganas I can doubt, He looked at the leper — a mass of flesh decaying before His eyes — and lifted the man to his feet.
Jesus, compassionate Jesus, said, I am willing.
Photo by timbarber Linking with Michelle today:
This entry was posted on 2011/06/06 by LW Lindquist. It was filed under A Praying Life, Belief & Doubt, Faith, Hear it on Sunday, Prayer and was tagged with A Praying Life, ganas, Hear It - Use It, leper, Michelle DeRusha, Prayer.