Belief & Doubt

God’s Arm Seems Longer Somehow

Holy Week, for many of us, is a particular time of reflection. Isaiah 59 is not traditionally a Lenten, Holy Week or Easter passage. But it has, in the past few years, been the touchstone to which I return to as I contemplate the state of my own heart in light of the Cross. This post, first scratched out in the early morning light of near-Easter 2009 and run here every year since, marks the place where God said, “Here and no further,” turning me back from a dark descent in His firm but tender insistence the Covenant has no loophole, that He did not end that blackest of Fridays having spent all of Jesus’ blood and now drowning in buyer’s remorse.

I read this again this morning and while I know the fierce intensity that first pushed these words out, today that doubt does not feel so close at hand. His arm seems longer, somehow, than it has in years.

Just how long is Your arm, Father? How long is long enough for me?

The question formed as I knelt beside a queen bed in a hotel squeezed between Iowa cornfields. I rose early and lingered there before joining the growing crowd of family in the breakfast nook downstairs. I flipped through thin pages looking for Isaiah 59, wanting just one thing. I felt hungrier for the sustaining words of this one short verse than for an AmericInn breakfast no matter what the ads say. (more…)


Whatever Idiotic Way We Can

I always thought I came to Jesus on May 11.

It was Mother’s Day 1975. I was eleven.

That’s what the baptismal certificate says, anyway.

The Saturday night before, I called my parents into my bedroom. They sat on either side and my scrawny legs hung off the side of my twin bed with the wadded up blankets because I didn’t then, and do not now, find much use in straightening sheets that would just mess up again. I told them I knew it was time. I cried.

I’d seen it done. You were supposed to cry.

(more…)


But Does He Have the Ganas?

But Is He Willing?
Mark 1:40-45

But Is He Willing?

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.

:: (more…)


Sifted as Wheat

Sifted as Wheat
Luke 22Sifted as Wheat

Satan asked to sift them as wheat.

I eavesdropped on the cosmic conversation between the Lover and the enemy of my soul, and my knees didn’t feel like they were made to hold up a whole body any more. Good that they were already on the floor.

I read the text again and wondered, How often?

How commonplace is it for the evil one to strut into the Throne Room and demand to shovel the Father’s beloved into a sieve to be shaken up and banged around and knocked right through the screen?

How often does it happen, this discussion?

(more…)


Shortening God’s Arm

Shortening God's Arm

Shortening God's Arm

Indulge me another repost? I’m regrouping a bit. Some of these from the archives have much more to say than I do at the moment.

::

Just how long is Your arm, Father? How long is long enough for me?

The question formed as I knelt beside a queen bed in a hotel squeezed between Iowa cornfields. I rose early and lingered there before joining the growing crowd of family in the breakfast nook downstairs. I flipped through thin pages looking for Isaiah 59, wanting just one thing. I felt hungrier for the sustaining words of this one short verse than for an AmericInn breakfast no matter what the ads say. (more…)


When Darkness Wears Clothes

When Darkness Wears Clothes

When Darkness Wears Clothes

We stood opposite one other in the plaza, she with black waves of hair falling onto a colorful shawl, and her dusky eyes holding a fierce grip on mine. Without looking away, I leaned a little to the side and tried not to move my lips as I asked my Argentine host, “What did she just say?”

“She put a curse on you,” my friend whispered back.

“Okay, yeah. That’s what I thought.” (more…)


Reimagined

Reimagined

Reimagined

Her words, beautiful as they are, haunt me. Still.

Through grief that wanted to defy words, she found them. She heard them, His tender whisper rising just above mourning.

I know. I was there. I am here.

My eyes follow the letters, lined up between periods, now in my own editor.

And I freeze.

(more…)


The Little Boy in My Bible

The Little Boy in My Bible

The Little Boy in My Bible

Watching miner after miner emerge from their tiny crawlspace in the belly of the earth under Chile, I was taken back briefly to my days nearby there. Particularly seeing the men sporting t-shirts given them by Campus Crusade for Christ – Chile, I wondered again about my young friend David, and imagined him sitting glued to his television with his family and neighbors last night as the first of his countrymen ascended. So I thought you might let me dig his story out from the depths of the archives, if I promised to rework it a little.

::

Update 10/15/10: A little more of the back story on the very big t-shirt deal at CNN Belief Blog.

::

Buenos Aires, 1984.  That’s where I met David.

Nothing worked quite the same after that.

One day David looked me hard in the eye and asked, “Do you know what you will do? Do you?”

I turned away, but it didn’t matter. He didn’t need my eyes for his own jet black lasers to scan my soul.

But I couldn’t return his gaze. His eyes, they had seen God. They’d seen the world. They overflowed with full and hollowed out with empty. And every time he looked at me, I knew he saw my vacant heart.

(more…)


Could Use a Little Truth Over Here

I twisted a little in the chair and felt my shoulders pull in tight. The edges were fuzzy, but the conversation was starting to come back to me in pieces as I sat at the kitchen table drafting a report into the evening hours.

I said that?

I wanted to be sure, so I texted her.

Did I really say there was a third brother?

Yes, she answered back. I think you did.

Blast.

::

Fresh from ten-plus days at the edge of night with Heman, my heart felt a little achy and exposed. I probably should have taken a nap. Instead, I let my mind loose on the playground a little longer, until it hung upside down on the monkey bars of one question: Did Heman’s light ever come back on, or did his world stay dark until the end?

Earlier that morning, our adult class spent some time on the swing set of Luke 15. We looked at the brother that went all wild, exhausting the riches stashed in his pockets from his father only to be washed away in an even wilder grace that rushed him while he was still on the road to home.

And we looked at the brother who witnessed redemption and seethed, angry that grace should be so crazy and not better measured.

We thought together that much of the time, we find ourselves to be one brother, or perhaps the other.

But that afternoon, in my petulant brooding, I determined to be neither.

There was a third brother, I barely recall saying. The brother nobody talks about. The father built a shed out back and put the third brother in it because they didn’t know what else to do. That’s the brother that is me.

Here in the light of day, that’s outrageous. And even as the words appear in front of me on the screen, my stomach goes soft and my shoulders clamp tight, and shame drips down around my neck.

I’ve just rewritten words that drew life from His lungs.

::

But I stop, and consider. While in adding a new chapter to His parable I may have been less nuanced than usual, I see I am a revisionist through and through.

I footnote and annotate and asterisk where His Word clearly stands on its own. Yet I feel compelled to qualify His truth and articulate the provisions that might just not apply to me.

Why must I think I stand outside the reach of His unrelenting mercy?

Where did He ever say such a thing?

And when will I cease to deny the power of the Gospel with my slimy, proud disbelief?

::

I stood some feet away and looked at the Word, still open to 88, to Heman’s painful cries of anguish from a dark place. And I asked Him, quiet, not to ask me to go there again. Please. Let’s move on.

He smiled, it seemed, and so I took to my place on the floor and turned pages. In mere moments I rejoiced over the Rock of my salvation right there in 95, just like it had been waiting for me to arrive.

And mere moments later, I doubled over as though sucker punched.

I wasn’t. God doesn’t do that.

But it felt so all the same.

This song of rejoicing, it ended badly. It was Heman and his bestie the darkness all over again.

They shall never enter My rest.” (95:11)

Was this the answer to my jungle gym question? When I wonder if Heman died in the dark (and by implication how that might have anything to do with me), this is what I hear in response?

“They shall never enter My rest.”

Quick, read backward. Read backward. Read backward. Hurry!

I read backward a lot. What did He say before that?

What He said was do not harden your hearts.” (95:8)

I slumped back and let out a long draw of air.

You know what is true. But you harden your heart against it. So yes, it will be tiresome and dark and you will not rest. Not until your heart is soft and you take the truth as it is written and stop writing your own.

You will not rest until your heart is soft enough to believe that when He said it is finished then it really is. And when He says He is enough then He really is.

And so, yes, I know what is true. I know it is finished and He is enough and grace doesn’t run out and mercy reaches me.

I know.

Oh, how I know.

And oh, how I forget.

::

So how would you like to help me out today? Because I could sure use a little truth over here.

Tell me some truth.

The rules are simple:

  1. It has to be the truth. That is, God has to have said it in His pages.
  2. It has to be the truth. That is, I don’t need an ego boost; I need Jesus.
  3. It has to be the truth. That is, unqualified, no-asterisk, straight-up truth.

Here’s your chance to “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)

Ready to preach me some Gospel? Go!

::

Photo: sad swing by Jonathan Malm via Stock.xchng

Another Bottle of MJ Water

“Didn’t you play any sports, Mom?” JP stood ankle deep in the clover across the yard and released the ball again toward my head.

“Nope.” I stuck out my gloved hand and nabbed it, thankfully without any awkward dance steps to retrieve it before I let it sail through the kitchen window. “Not a single one.”

He already knows how I established once and for all that height and ability are not doled out in equal portions, the single time I reported for basketball practice in my high school gym. We concluded that day that it would be best for everyone that I continued to keep my talents hidden.

“Not even softball? You could play first base you know,” he laughed, as I stretched to pluck another ball out of the air and narrowly avoided a face-first confrontation with the earth.

He was kind, calling out “My bad!” whenever I would miss and have to jog to collect an errant ball, opting not to make all the jokes that might have come quite easily.

And he was concerned, cautioning me to “Throw it over the top, Mom, or you’re going to have to get the Tommy John’s!” I’m sure that as soon as he turned his back to chase down the wild curve I didn’t mean to throw that he was really muttering, “You throw like a girl.”

He soon tired of my girl throwing and went to work on his pitching instead. We tried out his new iPod app to clock the speed of his pitch. When he ribbed me over my slow reflexes in tapping the screen, I asked him how that MJ water was working out for him.

::

We’d been talking about the MJ water for a while at our house, recalling the scene in Space Jam where Bugs Bunny slapped a “Michael’s Secret Stuff” label on a water bottle and shared it with his struggling team, hoping that if they believed that bottle contained the stuff that made Michael Jordan great, then they would play like they too were great.

It worked. At least on the screen.

And we wondered if the same was true of the titanium necklaces made popular by MLB players. Is there really a therapeutic quality to them that restores battered muscles and improves performance? Or does the belief that they do so inspire the athlete to push through pain and resistance and perform better on their own?

Is it just an pricey version of MJ water?

Look good, feel good?

We’re still running tests.

::

Somewhere past my bedtime the other night I went to pick up JP from the ballfield. He and a friend wandered aimlessly around the grounds and I wondered if I’d somehow tripped into that invisibility cloak again. Turned out his friend had parted with his cell phone sometime during the evening and they were on the hunt.

At my house we’ve made an art form of phone loss and destruction. We know how to launder them in the permanent press cycle, lose them, run over them, lose them, fall on them, lose them, drop them, and lose them like nobody’s business. We’ve made a lifetime deal with the devil in our wireless service contract.

So like any compassionate parent (who wants to go to bed) would do, I parked the car and started looking with them.

They checked the men’s room. The concession stand. The press box. The grass.

We checked lots of grass.

I pointed to the bleachers, and they assured me that they had already looked. I hoped they were right. I crouched and glanced in from a safe distance, and shuddered. Seeing the piles of spit-soaked seeds on top of spit-covered tar made my mouth water in that I’m-going-to-vomit-on-this-sea-of-saliva way and I jumped back.

Despair started its slow creep as we ran out of places to look. The two began a long walk to the water tower a full football field away as I made one more scan in the blue glow of the flood lights on the lawn outside the stadium.

Show us the phone, God. Do this thing. Please.

Show us the phone.

I took a few more steps, wondering aloud how much longer I should allow them to look before I took the young man home to face his own parents. As I debated, the sod lit up in front of me, a beautiful LCD glow winking from between blades of grass.

I bent over to pick up the phone, buzzing wildly in its muted vibrate mode as JP dialed from across the field one last time. I stretched the phone high in the air, waving the digital glow for the boys to see.

As tired and relieved bodies bundled into the car to go home, they asked how I found it. I told them I asked God to show it to us. And it looked like He did.

When it was back to just the two of us in the car, JP looked sideways at me and said, “Really? You prayed about it?”

“Sure,” I said. “God cares about stuff like that.”

He thought awhile, and reached his conclusion. “Maybe it was a coincidence. Maybe it wasn’t God.”

I wondered, did he think I was drinking the spiritual MJ water? That praying was like a titanium necklace? Since I prayed and we saw a good outcome I’d mistakenly associated the two?

I smiled, strangely comfortable that I didn’t have to convince him of anything he wasn’t quite ready to buy. “Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn’t,” I told him. “But even if He didn’t, He could do it. He could if He wanted to, right?”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

And I remember. Faith is never a given. It doesn’t come naturally, and often not easy. As much as sometimes I just want them to take my word for it, I know that even kids will have to pounce on the mat and wrestle down doubt and belief too. And when they do, that faith they claim will become truly theirs to hold.

Meanwhile, it seems I set off to quietly grappling anew over the “if He wanted to” part.

::

Photo: JP at pitching practice in the back yard

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Name-calling as Hope

Night.

I don’t know if my folks knew the meaning of my name when they gave it to me. I was named for family, not for August Rush or Oasis.

Maybe Dad will confirm it in the comments, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t named for night, though these days it may have seemed fitting.

And while a long trail of misspellings and mispronunciations litters the path behind my name, until this afternoon I was glad not to have one like Elimelech.

I don’t plan a change any time soon, particularly not to some tongue-twisting Hebrew man-name.

But I’m seeing today that Elimelech got one of the good ones.

::

(more…)


Shortening God’s Arm

Just how long is Your arm, Father? How long is long enough for me?

The question formed as I knelt beside a queen bed in a hotel squeezed between Iowa cornfields. I rose early and lingered there before joining the growing crowd of family in the breakfast nook downstairs. I flipped through thin pages looking for Isaiah 59, wanting just one thing. I felt hungrier for the sustaining words of this one short verse than for an AmericInn breakfast no matter what the ads say.

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. (Isaiah 59:1)

But I’m not good at just one verse.  Raisin Bran would wait a little longer while I held up my bowl like Oliver and begged, “Could I have some mo’ please?”

I got some mo’.

Mo’ than I know what to do with.

:: (more…)


No Other Argument

darkThe mornings are a little lighter now, but it seems I still rise while it’s dark.

Habit, I suppose. Or perhaps my joints are just growing older and less tolerant.

I don’t have to get up early any more, but sleep still leaves me at the usual time.

This morning I pulled back the warmth of downy covers and slipped out of bed into a darkness that filled the room but seemed also to envelop my soul. Even as the lights went out last night I sensed the darkness encroaching. Not the darkness of space that invites sleep, but that of spirit which steals rest clean away.

I swatted at it with a weak threat to doze off and thought to pretend it away. But by morning, it had its grip.

It held me with a firm hand.

:: (more…)


Teeter Away, He’ll Still Be Here

 

“Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.”
And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.” (Judges 6:18)
::
Gideon teetered. 
He rode the seesaw up, then crashed down to the ground. 
Believe. Doubt.
Accept. Refuse.
Regard. Deny.
Faith. Not quite sight.
::
With the plank faltering on the balance, at once teetering, now tottering, Gideon asks first for his sign, then for the angel’s patience.
Will you wait for me? Will you tarry to permit me to bring an offering?
Yes, of course. I will wait.
Gideon went home, killed an animal and did some baking. 
When he asked the angel to wait, he wasn’t kidding. This was no “Hang on a sec, I’ll be back in a jiffy.” He did not run in and pop a frozen dinner into the microwave. He didn’t reheat leftovers.
He slaughtered a goat.
He prepared fresh meat.
He baked bread.
All while the Lord waited.
::
Patient, the Lord was. He waited the better part of the day as I understand ancient cooking practices. 
He waited while Gideon prepared to serve Him.
He waited while Gideon prepared an offering. 
He waited while Gideon prepared for his sign.
He waited.
And when Gideon was ready, so was the Lord.
He brought his offering and set it before the angel. The angel accepted, then touched it with his rod. In a rush of wind and flame, the rock that held the offering ignited, and fire consumed the meat and the bread.
Gideon staggered.
I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!
::
Teetering halted. 
Wavering frozen. 
Question turned to answer as Gideon realized.
The angel, you see, leapt up onto the open end of the seesaw, thrusting Gideon into flight, then disappeared himself into the air.
I have seen. 
::
For this single moment, though dreadfully brief, faith did become sight, and Gideon’s belief stood still. 
It wouldn’t last. The quest for just one more sign would continue.
But now? Now, in this instant, he held it. 
For this blink of an eye, it was all his. 
Above all else, he knew the Lord would still be there when he finally latched on.
::

 

“Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.”

And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.” (Judges 6:18)

 

Gideon teetered. 

He rode the seesaw up, then crashed down to the ground. 

Believe. Doubt.

Accept. Refuse.

Regard. Deny.

Faith. Not quite sight.

:: (more…)


Punk’d?

Update: Thanks for the correction, Isaac. It’s great when your kids are old enough to read your blog. They catch all these mistakes us old folks make. Doggone young punks…
You can catch up on the rest of the Gideon posts here.
::
Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.” (Judges 6:17)
::
They didn’t have shows like Punk’d! back in Gideon’s day. It was even before Candid Camera. 
Wait. No tv.
No electricity.
In fact, not a lot of practical jokes recorded in Biblical history.
Yet Gideon suddenly seems to sense that he’s the butt of some colossal Old Testament stunt.
::
Just who does he think he’s been talking to? 
We don’t see anything in the record about Gideon having any fun-loving prankster friends. And his enemies weren’t that sophisticated. The Midianites and Amalekites were more slash and burn than subtle types. 
They wouldn’t waste time setting up a pitiful guy like Gideon for humiliating shenanigans.
::
So then what happened? Five minutes ago, Gideon accosted the angel, sure enough he was in God’s presence to blast His past performance.
Now he’s not quite sure this is really Him.
He needs proof.
He asks for a sign. 
This soon becomes Gideon’s thing, asking for signs.
::
Gideon’s impulse is to believe this is God. His knee jerk is to accept without question. 
But a funny thing happens when he starts to sop up what’s gone on. Doubt dribbles in. His mind floods, and he begins to wonder. 
And worry.
Is it really You?
Can You prove it?
Are You just setting me up?
::
Stupid Gideon. He might just as well be me.
He believes. Until he thinks too hard about it. 
His faith works. Until he starts to break it down. 
What he can’t wrap his mind around, he cannot be sure is true. 
He might just as well be me.
::
God puts in my heart to believe. He makes that my knee jerk too. 
And I can plod along watching Him work, seeing Him move, and know without a doubt that it’s Him. 
All Him. 
And only Him.
And then I begin to break it down. I over think it. I push my heart out of the way and let reason take over. And then I wonder, and worry, if it’s really Him.
Why did I come out from behind the winepress? 
Where are the cameras? What’s the joke?
Is it really You? Or is it monkeyshine?
Can You prove it?
::
Yeah. 
Oh, yeah. 
He can. 
::

 

Update: Thanks for the correction, Isaac. It’s great when your kids are old enough to read your blog. They catch all these mistakes us old folks make. Doggone young punks…

 

Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.” (Judges 6:17)

 

They didn’t have shows like Punk’d! back in Gideon’s day. It was even before Candid Camera. 

Wait. No tv.

No electricity.

In fact, not a lot of practical jokes recorded in Biblical history.

Yet Gideon suddenly seems to sense that he’s the butt of some colossal Old Testament stunt.

:: (more…)


Emmaus

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:30-32)

::

Glum, these two. 

Downtrodden.

Followers of Jesus of Nazareth. At least, they had been His followers. They’d hoped He was the One. 

But then He was killed by their own religious leaders. And the women, oh brother. They’d gone off the deep end, running around telling crazy stories about angels and an open tomb and a vanished body. 

So now they were on their own again. Looking for another redeemer. Another cause. Another purpose in life. 

::

(more…)


Seeing is Not Believing

 

The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, 
   “Hosanna!” 
   “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
   “Blessed is the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, 
“Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; 
      see, your king is coming, 
      seated on a donkey’s colt.”
At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him. (John 12:12-16)
::
Once in a while I imagine what it must have been like for the disciples to walk with Jesus, in person, every day. They saw the miracles in real time. They heard the teaching firsthand. They cheered (privately) when Jesus confronted the Pharisees, rejoiced (quietly) when he pulled tax money out of the mouth of a fish, and high-fived each other (exuberantly) when He filled their nets with many days’ catch all at once.
They walked with the Redeemer every single day.
::
At those times when belief comes hard for me, I imagine that they had an advantage over me. 
They heard His voice: the intonation, the expression, the emotion.
They looked into His eyes.
It had to be so much easier for them.
And then I read passages like John’s account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, mere days before He would be lifted up.
Just moments before He would lay Himself down.
And I realize that it was tough for them some days too.
::
By this time, the disciples had seen Jesus turn water into wine, heal a bunch of people from all kinds of ailments, feed thousands with scraps, walk on the top of the water, and raise Lazarus from the dead. And yet, John reports that he and his companions still didn’t get it. 
“At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize . . .”
They saw. 
They saw a lot.
But it occurs to me that seeing is just not believing.
::
I don’t know who they thought Jesus really was. They knew He was somebody. 
Somebody important.
But despite all they’d seen and all they’d heard, they didn’t see who He was. 
Not until later.
What they saw didn’t mean then what it would mean another day.
::
One day, not long after they watched their Hope breathe His last, hanging in agony on rough hewn timbers, bruised, battered, and bleeding, at last they understood. 
We know from John’s account here that they did eventually get it. We know from the book of Acts. 
And we know from the lives they went on to live, and for most, the deaths that they would go on to die. 
::
Seeing may not be the same as believing. 
But once believing, it’s amazing what one can see.
::

The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, 

   “Hosanna!” 

   “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

   “Blessed is the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, 

“Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; 

      see, your king is coming, 

      seated on a donkey’s colt.”

At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him. (John 12:12-16)

Once in a while I imagine what it must have been like for the disciples to walk with Jesus, in person, every day. They saw the miracles in real time. They heard the teaching firsthand. They cheered (privately) when Jesus confronted the Pharisees, rejoiced (quietly) when he pulled tax money out of the mouth of a fish, and high-fived each other (exuberantly) when He filled their nets with many days’ catch all at once.

They walked with the Redeemer every single day.

::

At those times when belief comes hard for me, I imagine that they had an advantage over me. 

They heard His voice: the intonation, the expression, the emotion.

They looked into His eyes.

It had to be so much easier for them.

And then I read passages like John’s account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, mere days before He would be lifted up.

Just moments before He would lay Himself down.

And I realize that it was tough for them some days too.

::

By this time, the disciples had seen Jesus turn water into wine, heal a bunch of people from all kinds of ailments, feed thousands with scraps, walk on the top of the water, and raise Lazarus from the dead.

And yet, John reports that he and his companions still didn’t get it. 

At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize . . .

They saw. 

They saw a lot.

But it occurs to me that seeing is just not believing.

::

I don’t know who they thought Jesus really was. They knew He was somebody. 

Somebody important.

But despite all they’d seen and all they’d heard, they didn’t see who He was. 

Not until later.

What they saw didn’t mean then what it would mean another day.

::

One day, not long after they watched their Hope breathe His last, hanging in agony on rough hewn timbers, bruised, battered, and bleeding, at last they understood. 

We know from John’s account here that they did eventually get it. We know from the book of Acts. 

And we know from the lives they went on to live, and for most, the deaths that they would go on to die. 

::

Seeing may not be the same as believing. 

But once believing, it’s amazing what one can see.

::


Lights Out

 

Suddenly, GOD, your light floods my path, 
      GOD drives out the darkness. 
   I smash the bands of marauders, 
      I vault the high fences. 
   What a God! His road 
      stretches straight and smooth. 
   Every GOD-direction is road-tested. 
      Everyone who runs toward him 
   Makes it. (2 Samuel 22:29-31, The Message)
::
I work in a local landmark. 
Here on the South Dakota prairie you can see for miles and miles and miles without standing on your tip toes. In an almost startling way, a seven story building rises against the horizon in the middle of nowhere. A virtual skyscraper in a humble farming town of 3,500.
A traveler approaching from any direction sees the tower, stretching out to the sky, a beacon by day and night. 
And the lights never go out.
Well, almost never.
::
I start work before daylight. A week ago when I pulled into the lot, it seemed darker than usual. Instead of the dreamy midnight blue that surrounds me most mornings, it was thick black. It took a moment before I realized there wasn’t a flicker of light anywhere. 
(Memo to my company: The week following the announcement of significant job cuts is not a good time to lose power to your building.)
The lights had gone out. 
Baby, it was dark. 
::
A few of us wandering outside in the dark and cold finally ventured inside to find out what was happening. The doors were unlocked and there were already a few brave souls inside the building.
(Memo to self: Consider the half-baked wisdom of entering a vacant, dark building not knowing how long the security system has been inactive.)
A couple of folks were trying to figure out why the power was out and the generator was not working. A few others were trying to figure out how long it would be and whether it was worth the trip back home. And some, to my amusement (and admiration) were in their cubicles, diligently trying to match incoming mail with open files. 
In the dark. 
By the light of a cell phone.
::
Before I turned around to go home I did walk down the long row of blackened matchbox workstations and around the corner to my own. I hung just a bit toward the far wall, a safe distance from what now just seemed to be cold, square caves with spiky shadows and hunched shapes in every stack of paperwork. It seemed a wise precaution, just in case some unknown person or being lunged out unexpectedly. 
I knew no such thing would happen, but who wants to be caught unprepared?
Oddly, I had no difficulty marching straight to my desk, though there was no clearly lit path. I couldn’t see my way. And there was really nothing to hold to grope my way there. 
I just walked it. 
Straight in.
::
I thought about that today as a friend and I visited over lunch. We talked about the uncertainty of the future. Our circumstances are different, but we both face some crazy uncertainty in the days, months, even years to come. 
Don’t we all?
We talked about the assurance that God has a plan. And that God is good. 
But just what does He mean by good? Will it be the same as what I mean by good? We’ve seen Him work His plan before, and though we could both see such clear examples of His unexpected workings in our lives, so far beyond our wildest imaginations, we wouldn’t trade what He’s done for anything in the world. Though we may have questioned Him at times, we’ve could agree that we’d come to see that what He’d done was good. Good by anyone’s definition.
But it took trusting Him to lead in some dark places.
::
I found my way effortlessly to my workstation in the pitch black because I’ve walked that way so many times before. I know how many cubicles stack up down the row. I know where the doorways stand. I even know where the cabinets jut out so I didn’t smack right into them. 
Because every day, I walk that same way.
Only I walk that way in the light. 
::
Walking that way daily, in the light, prepared me to walk that way one day in the dark. 
Who God is didn’t change a few weeks ago because somebody flipped off the lights in my otherwise bright and secure future. God didn’t stop being good because I can’t see my hand in front of my face at the moment. 
Things sure look different when the lights go out. But spending time with Him, at His feet, knowing Him deeply while it’s still light gives me what I need to trust Him to show me the way.
Even when the way is dark. 
::

Suddenly, GOD, your light floods my path, 

      GOD drives out the darkness. 

   I smash the bands of marauders, 

      I vault the high fences. 

   What a God! His road 

      stretches straight and smooth. 

   Every GOD-direction is road-tested. 

      Everyone who runs toward him 

   Makes it. (2 Samuel 22:29-31, The Message)

 

I work in a local landmark. 

Here on the South Dakota prairie you can see for miles and miles and miles without standing on your tip toes. In an almost startling way, a seven story building rises against the horizon in the middle of nowhere. A virtual skyscraper in a humble farming town of 3,500.

A traveler approaching from any direction sees the tower, stretching out to the sky, a beacon by day and night. 

And the lights never go out.

Well, almost never.

::

I start work before daylight. A week ago when I pulled into the lot, it seemed darker than usual. Instead of the dreamy midnight blue that surrounds me most mornings, it was thick black. It took a moment before I realized there wasn’t a flicker of light anywhere. 

(Memo to my company: The week following the announcement of significant job cuts is not a good time to lose power to your building.)

The lights had gone out. 

Baby, it was dark. 

::

A few of us wandering outside in the dark and cold finally ventured inside to find out what was happening. The doors were unlocked and there were already a few brave souls inside the building.

(Memo to self: Consider the half-baked wisdom of entering a vacant, dark building not knowing how long the security system has been inactive.)

A couple of folks were trying to figure out why the power was out and the generator was not working. A few others were trying to figure out how long it would be and whether it was worth the trip back home. And some, to my amusement (and admiration) were in their cubicles, diligently trying to match incoming mail with open files. 

In the dark. 

By the light of a cell phone.

::

Before I turned around to go home I did walk down the long row of blackened matchbox workstations and around the corner to my own. I hung just a bit toward the far wall, a safe distance from what now just seemed to be cold, square caves with spiky shadows and hunched shapes in every stack of paperwork. It seemed a wise precaution, just in case some unknown person or being lunged out unexpectedly. 

I knew no such thing would happen, but who wants to be caught unprepared?

Oddly, I had no difficulty marching straight to my desk, though there was no clearly lit path. I couldn’t see my way. And there was really nothing to hold to grope my way there. 

I just walked it. 

Straight in.

::

I thought about that today as a friend and I visited over lunch. We talked about the uncertainty of the future. Our circumstances are different, but we both face some crazy uncertainty in the days, months, even years to come. 

Don’t we all?

We talked about the assurance that God has a plan. And that God is good. 

But just what does He mean by good? Will it be the same as what I mean by good? We’ve seen Him work His plan before, and though we could both see such clear examples of His unexpected workings in our lives, so far beyond our wildest imaginations, we wouldn’t trade what He’s done for anything in the world. Though we may have questioned Him at times, we’ve could agree that we’d come to see that what He’d done was good. Good by anyone’s definition.

But it took trusting Him to lead in some dark places.

::

I found my way effortlessly to my workstation in the pitch black because I’ve walked that way so many times before. I know how many cubicles stack up down the row. I know where the doorways stand. I even know where the cabinets jut out so I didn’t smack right into them. 

Because every day, I walk that same way.

Only I walk that way in the light. 

::

Walking that way daily, in the light, prepared me to walk that way one day in the dark. 

Who God is didn’t change a few weeks ago because somebody flipped off the lights in my otherwise bright and secure future. God didn’t stop being good because I can’t see my hand in front of my face at the moment. 

Things sure look different when the lights go out. But spending time with Him, at His feet, knowing Him deeply while it’s still light gives me what I need to trust Him to show me the way.

Even when the way is dark. 

::


Revisiting Lazarus

 

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”
::
“Take away the stone,” he said. 
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:21-27, 39-40)
::
And you thought we were done with Lazarus. I did too. Except that it seems to always be true that each time I look at the Word, I see something I didn’t see there before. (If you missed them the first time around, check out the meanderings through John 11 and Learning from Lazarus here. In particular, for today, this one is most helpful.)
::
A few weeks ago my friend Chris and I were having a discussion offline about the ongoing tension between belief and unbelief. It spilled over into an interesting look at Jesus’ encounter with Martha in the painful and twisted time between her brother’s death and his miraculous resurrection. Let’s be clear from the get-go here, I’m going to be reading some between the lines of the text and imagining some things about Martha that aren’t there in black and white. But when we’re done, you tell me if you don’t just think we may have been on to something.
We’ve already looked at these two portions of the chapter before. But look at them again. Martha professes her belief in Jesus, in His power, in the resurrection. She knows Jesus could have saved her brother from earthly death, and she recognizes He will raise him again in the last day. 
We talked before about how Jesus wanted her to understand that He was the resurrection and the life, right now. “I am . . .” not “I will be . . .” And this is where it starts to get a little dicey for Martha. 
Jesus asks her, “Do you believe this?”
And she replies, “Yes Lord.” 
She says that she believes. She explains what she believes. She sincerely believes that she believes. 
That’s what I believe. But did she really believe the “right here, right now” part?
I’m not so sure. 
::
Just a short while later, as they stand together outside the tomb, remember that Jesus asks that the stone be removed. And Martha’s not so sure that’s a good idea. 
“But Lord,” she protests, stifling a gag. “By this time there is a bad odor, for he has been in there for four days.”
No way does she want that tomb opened up. She wants her brother back. And she says believes Jesus is the resurrection and can restore her brother. But don’t open the tomb for heaven’s sake. There’s a stinky dead guy in there. 
Her reaction reveals to me a hint of disbelief. 
Why open the tomb for no good reason? It’s just going to stink.
And he’s still going to be dead.
::
Chris and I were talking about Philippians 3. Specifically this: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” And we wondered aloud how we get a glimpse of that right here, right now. Exactly HOW? 
That’s how we got back to Martha. For this is what Jesus was telling her too. And she too must have wondered, HOW?  She didn’t get the HOW part, and that compromised her ability to believe what He was telling her. Enough that even though she just acknowledged out loud her belief in Him as the right here, right now Resurrection, she didn’t think there was any point in opening the tomb.
Do you remember what we know about Martha from other gospel accounts? One day Jesus went to Martha and Mary’s home, and while Mary sat at the feet of her Lord and friend, Martha busied herself with the preparations. And when she had fretted at these things enough, she came to Jesus and insisted that He send Mary to help her. Martha was a diligent servant, so faithful. So conscientious. So meticulous. Martha was all about the details. So much so that she missed what was going on at the moment. Jesus had to remind her that she needn’t be upset about so many things but that only one thing, in that moment, was really important. 
The thing that Mary was doing. 
::
Now go back to Martha, standing with her Lord at the tomb of her brother. Martha was at a loss without the details, and the preparation, and the plan. Her need to understand and grasp these things blocked her belief that Jesus really meant that He would raise Lazarus right here, right now.
Contrast that with Mary. So relational, Mary. Even at this time of her brother’s death. Martha was out running around, no doubt taking care of the preparations. She had to send for Mary back at the house when Jesus arrived. 
What was Mary doing? What Mary always did. Mary was with her friends. Mary was being relational.
Mary was not helping Martha. 
::
What we wondered was what it would have looked like if Jesus had the same conversation with Mary that He did with Martha. Would Mary have grasped more readily that He truly meant right here, right now? I am Resurrection? It’s imagination on my part, but I choose to think she would have. 
Here’s a little piece of our back-and-forth on this, for a peek into my head you may not have wanted. I’ve edited slightly from the original for clarity and spelling:
Me: Mary seemed to have a sense, an understanding, a spirit that allowed her to really connect with Jesus. Even though she too chewed Him out when He showed up late, I think that she would have really understood when He said that I am Resurrection right now. 
Chris: Probably due to her key-in on relationships, especially with Jesus.  I mean, she sat, and sat and SAT at his feet.  Didn’t do the dishes . . . 
Me: The whole difference between the two made a huge difference in what they saw in Jesus, wanted from Jesus, got from Jesus. That’s not to say that Martha was all wrong. We have to have people that are competent . . . if everybody sat around being relational like Mary, nothing would ever get done. (And of course, that slap at Mary comes from one who would be among the competent – I’m no Martha when it comes to hospitality, but I think the model remains the same – organization, plans, etc.) But somehow or other, the ones who focus on “competent” also need to find a way to sit at His feet and be ok with it and relish it. Without working the list and the plan over in their minds. Drat it all.
::
So where does this all lead? For me, it leads away from a need to know details, three-step plans, and organizing God into utter impotence. It leads to the need to sit at His feet. To relish the time with Him. To just know Him, enjoy Him, bask in the warmth and light that is Him. 
Not to have to know everything. And control everything.
Because my faith comes from knowing Him. The disbelief, or the contradiction between what I say I believe and I act like I believe, is overcome as I choose to live consistent with the truth. 
Also known as obedience. 
::
As I believe Him, I can obey freely. As I obey, my belief is deepened. 
They have to be woven together. 
And sitting at His feet would go a long way toward weaving that cord.
::

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

 

“Take away the stone,” he said. 

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:21-27, 39-40)

And you thought we were done with Lazarus. I did too. Except that it seems to always be true that each time I look at the Word, I see something I didn’t see there before. (If you missed them the first time around, check out the meanderings through John 11 and Learning from Lazarus here. In particular, for today, this one is most helpful.)

::

A few weeks ago my friend Chris and I were having a discussion offline about the ongoing tension between belief and unbelief. It spilled over into an interesting look at Jesus’ encounter with Martha in the painful and twisted time between her brother’s death and his miraculous resurrection. Let’s be clear from the get-go here, I’m going to be reading some between the lines of the text and imagining some things about Martha that aren’t there in black and white. But when we’re done, you tell me if you don’t just think we may have been on to something.

We’ve already looked at these two portions of the chapter before. But look at them again. Martha professes her belief in Jesus, in His power, in the resurrection. She knows Jesus could have saved her brother from earthly death, and she recognizes He will raise him again in the last day. 

We talked before about how Jesus wanted her to understand that He was the resurrection and the life, right now. “I am . . .” not “I will be . . .” And this is where it starts to get a little dicey for Martha. 

Jesus asks her, “Do you believe this?”

And she replies, “Yes Lord.” 

She says that she believes. She explains what she believes. She sincerely believes that she believes. 

That’s what I believe. But did she really believe the “right here, right now” part?

I’m not so sure. 

::

Just a short while later, as they stand together outside the tomb, remember that Jesus asks that the stone be removed. And Martha’s not so sure that’s a good idea. 

“But Lord,” she protests, stifling a gag. “By this time there is a bad odor, for he has been in there for four days.”

No way does she want that tomb opened up. She wants her brother back. And she says believes Jesus is the resurrection and can restore her brother. But don’t open the tomb for heaven’s sake. There’s a stinky dead guy in there. 

Her reaction reveals to me a hint of disbelief. 

Why open the tomb for no good reason? It’s just going to stink.

And he’s still going to be dead.

::

Chris and I were talking about Philippians 3. Specifically this: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” And we wondered aloud how we get a glimpse of that right here, right now. Exactly HOW? 

That’s how we got back to Martha. For this is what Jesus was telling her too. And she too must have wondered, HOW?  She didn’t get the HOW part, and that compromised her ability to believe what He was telling her. Enough that even though she just acknowledged out loud her belief in Him as the right here, right now Resurrection, she didn’t think there was any point in opening the tomb.

Do you remember what we know about Martha from other gospel accounts? One day Jesus went to Martha and Mary’s home, and while Mary sat at the feet of her Lord and friend, Martha busied herself with the preparations. And when she had fretted at these things enough, she came to Jesus and insisted that He send Mary to help her. Martha was a diligent servant, so faithful. So conscientious. So meticulous. Martha was all about the details. So much so that she missed what was going on at the moment. Jesus had to remind her that she needn’t be upset about so many things but that only one thing, in that moment, was really important. 

The thing that Mary was doing. 

::

Now go back to Martha, standing with her Lord at the tomb of her brother. Martha was at a loss without the details, and the preparation, and the plan. Her need to understand and grasp these things blocked her belief that Jesus really meant that He would raise Lazarus right here, right now.

Contrast that with Mary. So relational, Mary. Even at this time of her brother’s death. Martha was out running around, no doubt taking care of the preparations. She had to send for Mary back at the house when Jesus arrived. 

What was Mary doing? What Mary always did. Mary was with her friends. Mary was being relational.

Mary was not helping Martha. 

::

What we wondered was what it would have looked like if Jesus had the same conversation with Mary that He did with Martha. Would Mary have grasped more readily that He truly meant right here, right now? I am Resurrection? It’s imagination on my part, but I choose to think she would have. 

Here’s a little piece of our back-and-forth on this, for a peek into my head you may not have wanted. I’ve edited slightly from the original for clarity and spelling:

Me: Mary seemed to have a sense, an understanding, a spirit that allowed her to really connect with Jesus. Even though she too chewed Him out when He showed up late, I think that she would have really understood when He said that I am Resurrection right now. 

Chris: Probably due to her key-in on relationships, especially with Jesus.  I mean, she sat, and sat and SAT at his feet.  Didn’t do the dishes . . . 

Me: The whole difference between the two made a huge difference in what they saw in Jesus, wanted from Jesus, got from Jesus. That’s not to say that Martha was all wrong. We have to have people that are competent . . . if everybody sat around being relational like Mary, nothing would ever get done. (And of course, that slap at Mary comes from one who would be among the competent – I’m no Martha when it comes to hospitality, but I think the model remains the same – organization, plans, etc.) But somehow or other, the ones who focus on “competent” also need to find a way to sit at His feet and be ok with it and relish it. Without working the list and the plan over in their minds. Drat it all.

::

So where does this all lead? For me, it leads away from a need to know details, three-step plans, and organizing God into utter impotence. It leads to the need to sit at His feet. To relish the time with Him. To just know Him, enjoy Him, bask in the warmth and light that is Him. 

Not to have to know everything. And control everything.

Because my faith comes from knowing Him. The disbelief, or the contradiction between what I say I believe and I act like I believe, is overcome as I choose to live consistent with the truth. 

Also known as obedience. 

::

As I believe Him, I can obey freely. As I obey, my belief is deepened. 

They have to be woven together. 

And sitting at His feet would go a long way toward weaving that cord.

::


An Abnormal and Persistent Fear

 

Yet you are near, O LORD, 
       and all your commands are true.
Long ago I learned from your statutes 
       that you established them to last forever. (Psalm 119:151-152)
::
Last night I walked the track at the gym (I’m trying to reconstruct this habit). The walking track is actually suspended about 15 to 20 feet over a basketball court. It’s structurally sound, well constructed and has a very solid and secure guardrail all the way around that extends at least past waist height.
It’s not dangerous.
::
Yet, last night as we walked, each time we rounded the far corner, my stomach dropped out in terror. Kind of like that feeling when the roller coaster drops. It was bad enough that, even though I’m not all that verbally emotive, I often let out an involuntary gasp or groan as we walked around the corner. You see, tucked up against the guard rail a mother sat with her two young boys, contentedly watching their big brother’s basketball game on the court below.
They weren’t rambunctious. They weren’t misbehaving. They didn’t run out onto the track. They sat, quietly. They peered through the very safe, very secure rails. Their mom even kept a hand on their sweatshirts most of the time to make sure they didn’t take off anywhere. 
They were safe.
I was sick to my stomach.
::
I’m not afraid of heights. 
I’m not.
At least not as far as I’m concerned. I can climb stuff. I even fell off a ladder picking apples a couple of years ago. And I still don’t mind being up off the ground. 
But for other people? Heights terrify me. It’s the stupidest thing I have ever seen. 
My brain told me that these little boys were safe. They couldn’t fit their heads through the rail, let alone somehow slip their entire bodies through unnoticed by their very attentive mother. But my belly told me different. 
My belly told me those boys were going to fall. Over the rail, under the rail, through the rail. They’d find a way to fall to the ground. 
::
“Do you see how easily a little kid could slip through the rail?” I asked my friend. “All she’d have to do is look away for two seconds, and WHOOSH! There he goes!”
She chuckled. And shook her head. She’s been there with me before.
“No way he could fall, right?” I conceded.
“Nope,” she said.
And we walked on. Until we came back to that corner. 
My stomach dropped. 
I searched for a bucket. 
And then I regained my composure, only to reach the corner and go through it all over again. 
::
It’s an irrational fear, through and through. I can’t find a definition in a medical dictionary for my particular idiosyncrasy. But there is a definition for its counterpart, the more “normal” kind of fear of heights:
Fear of heights: An abnormal and persistent fear of heights. Sufferers experience severe anxiety even though they realize as a rule that heights pose no real threat to them. (MedicineNet.com)
Even though they realize as a rule that heights pose no threat to them. In my case, to others.
::
You know, I was normal once. Well, more normal. Until Josiah was about four years old. One fateful day at Camp Snoopy, he rode with Isaac in the big, huge, monstrous ferris wheel. The one that went way high. The one that had no seat belts or restraints of any kind to prevent a fearless sort of kid from standing up, walking around and occasionally leaning over the side. 
I looked up at my one son sitting quietly in his seat. But I saw the other taking in all the sights from halfway out of the car. Seven stories in the air, he was leaning over the side wall, which was really no higher than his little waist. As I stared up aghast, I no longer saw them in the car. I only saw a little boy on the ground.
I had to find a place to throw up.
::
In the end, they both came safely down to earth, delighted to tell of their exhilarating ride in the sky.
Meanwhile, their mother was indelibly changed. I can no longer bear the sight of anyone in any position even slightly above the ground, even though I know there is no real danger. It’s an abnormal reaction to a circumstance my head knows to be harmless. But my heart, or perhaps my stomach, does not.
The disconnect.
::
Not unlike the disconnect between what I know God’s Word says and what I act like I believe in the midst of pain or doubt or disruption. 
It seems at times that I have an abnormal and persistent fear that the truth of His Word should turn out to be untrue after all. (Yes, I’m afraid many of my roads still lead back here.) I know there is no basis for that fear. I know it to be an abnormal fear, for His Word is true. 
His Word is solid. 
His Word endures.
His Word is enough to overcome an abnormal and persistent fear.
::

Yet you are near, O LORD, 

       and all your commands are true.

Long ago I learned from your statutes 

       that you established them to last forever. (Psalm 119:151-152)

Last night I walked the track at the gym (I’m trying to reconstruct this habit). The walking track is actually suspended about 15 to 20 feet over a basketball court. It’s structurally sound, well constructed and has a very solid and secure guardrail all the way around that extends at least past waist height.

It’s not dangerous.

::

Yet, last night as we walked, each time we rounded the far corner, my stomach dropped out in terror. Kind of like that feeling when the roller coaster drops. It was bad enough that, even though I’m not all that verbally emotive, I often let out an involuntary gasp or groan as we walked around the corner. You see, tucked up against the guard rail a mother sat with her two young boys, contentedly watching their big brother’s basketball game on the court below.

They weren’t rambunctious. They weren’t misbehaving. They didn’t run out onto the track. They sat, quietly. They peered through the very safe, very secure rails. Their mom even kept a hand on their sweatshirts most of the time to make sure they didn’t take off anywhere. 

They were safe.

I was sick to my stomach.

::

I’m not afraid of heights. 

I’m not.

At least not as far as I’m concerned. I can climb stuff. I even fell off a ladder picking apples a couple of years ago. And I still don’t mind being up off the ground. 

But for other people? Heights terrify me. It’s the stupidest thing I have ever seen. 

My brain told me that these little boys were safe. They couldn’t fit their heads through the rail, let alone somehow slip their entire bodies through unnoticed by their very attentive mother. But my belly told me different. 

My belly told me those boys were going to fall. Over the rail, under the rail, through the rail. They’d find a way to fall to the ground. 

::

“Do you see how easily a little kid could slip through the rail?” I asked my friend. “All she’d have to do is look away for two seconds, and WHOOSH! There he goes!”

She chuckled. And shook her head. She’s been there with me before.

“No way he could fall, right?” I conceded.

“Nope,” she said.

And we walked on. Until we came back to that corner. 

My stomach dropped. 

I searched for a bucket. 

And then I regained my composure, only to reach the corner and go through it all over again. 

::

It’s an irrational fear, through and through. I can’t find a definition in a medical dictionary for my particular idiosyncrasy. But there is a definition for its counterpart, the more “normal” kind of fear of heights:

Fear of heights: An abnormal and persistent fear of heights. Sufferers experience severe anxiety even though they realize as a rule that heights pose no real threat to them. (MedicineNet.com)

Even though they realize as a rule that heights pose no threat to them. In my case, to others.

::

You know, I was normal once. Well, more normal. Until Josiah was about four years old. One fateful day at Camp Snoopy, he rode with Isaac in the big, huge, monstrous ferris wheel. The one that went way high. The one that had no seat belts or restraints of any kind to prevent a fearless sort of kid from standing up, walking around and occasionally leaning over the side. 

I looked up at my one son sitting quietly in his seat. But I saw the other taking in all the sights from halfway out of the car. Seven stories in the air, he was leaning over the side wall, which was really no higher than his little waist. As I stared up aghast, I no longer saw them in the car. I only saw a little boy on the ground.

I had to find a place to throw up.

::

In the end, they both came safely down to earth, delighted to tell of their exhilarating ride in the sky.

Meanwhile, I’m wrecked. I can no longer bear the sight of anyone in any position even slightly above the ground, even though I know there is no real danger. It’s an abnormal reaction to a circumstance my head knows to be harmless. But my heart, or perhaps my stomach, does not.

The disconnect.

::

Not unlike the disconnect between what I know God’s Word says and what I act like I believe in the midst of pain or doubt or disruption. 

It seems at times that I have an abnormal and persistent fear that the truth of His Word should turn out to be untrue after all. (Yes, I’m afraid many of my roads still lead back here.) I know there is no basis for that fear. I know it to be an abnormal fear, for His Word is true. 

His Word is solid. 

His Word endures.

His Word is enough to overcome an abnormal and persistent fear.

::


The Post I’ve Been Trying to Write

 

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11)
::
The last several times I’ve settled down to write, I’ve been surprised by the result. Not that it was necessarily good or bad, but it wasn’t what I intended to write. I finally concluded after considering the father in Mark 9, twisting and turning in the turmoil between belief and unbelief, I just wasn’t going to write this post after all. 
What I’d wanted to say wasn’t going to be said, and what I’d said instead seemed sufficient.
But then my good friend Dr. Schamu came back from her Christmas hiatus and returned to challenging me with her comments. And with her latest, I knew I wasn’t done. 
At least not quite.
::
In response to Truth vs. Turf she says this: “That is really the core issue isn’t it??! I want to protect [whatever] and thus in any practical way deny the truth! What am I thinking when I do that? At least the Pharisees were consistent with their words that they were threatened and hated Jesus. How often do I claim publicly (and believe privately) that I love him and trust him? Then, in a stressful situation, my core beliefs come out and are opposed to my profession! Nothing like a little heat to bring the true beliefs to the surface.” (Emphasis added.) Read her whole comment here. There’s a lot to it, as I’m sure you find there always is.
The difference between what we really believe and what we say we believe is often stark. It seems to me that we profess to believe one thing, but in our innermost being, we believe something else. 
We want to believe one thing, but our hearts run to something else. 
We want folks to think we believe one thing, but if we lift the curtain, that just isn’t what’s there.
This is hard territory for me. 
::
You know I’m a fan of Ted Dekker. I spoke once before about a character of his, Caleb, who was trying to return to the faith of his youth. Part of his journey he spent at the feet of a desert wanderer, Father Joseph Hadane. As Caleb wrestled through his own crisis of faith, he told Father Hadane that he was trying to “live up to” his beliefs. 
Father Hadane countered with a painfully difficult answer. “We always live up or down to our beliefs,” he said. “Beliefs are the rails which govern our lives. Our trains roll on them whether we like it or not. If your train is not rolling on the set of rails which you claim are yours, it’s because you have diverted your train to a different set of rails — these are your true beliefs now, not the rails you left.”
::
Saying I believe something is not the same as believing it. How I live will reflect what I truly believe in my innermost core. 
My life, whether I like it or not, will reflect what I, in fact, believe.
Do you see why this is hard?
::
I can say anything I want. But is it what I truly believe? Does my train roll on the rails I claim are mine?
The most critical thing for me to believe, to fully accept as mine, to make both my professed belief as well as my deeply held core belief, is that abiding belief of which Paul spoke to the Philippian believers. That I do not have a “righteousness of my own that comes from the law,” but rather a “righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” Access to God that comes only through Christ, and not the slightest bit through me. 
“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” 
These bold things that Paul says here, I want them to be what is truly true for me. 
I want this to be the set of rails I roll on every single day.
::
But I’m not convinced that my life reflects that this is it for me. I’m not convinced that my train hasn’t become diverted. I’m not convinced that when the heat is turned up, as my friend points out, that this will be revealed as my deeply held, authentic belief. 
It all boils down to something as simple as this: Do I live what I say I believe?
And if I don’t live it, then do I really believe it at all? (Ouchie.)
And if I don’t believe it, then why do I say that I do? (Ouchier.)
::

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11)

The last several times I’ve settled down to write, I’ve been surprised by the result. Not that it was necessarily good or bad, but it wasn’t what I intended to write. I finally concluded after considering the father in Mark 9, twisting and turning in the turmoil between belief and unbelief, I just wasn’t going to write this post after all. 

What I’d wanted to say wasn’t going to be said, and what I’d said instead seemed sufficient.

But then my good friend Dr. Schamu came back from her Christmas hiatus and returned to challenging me with her comments.

And with her latest, I knew I wasn’t done. 

At least not quite.

::

In response to Truth vs. Turf she said this:

That is really the core issue isn’t it??! I want to protect [whatever] and thus in any practical way deny the truth! What am I thinking when I do that? At least the Pharisees were consistent with their words that they were threatened and hated Jesus. How often do I claim publicly (and believe privately) that I love him and trust him? Then, in a stressful situation, my core beliefs come out and are opposed to my profession! Nothing like a little heat to bring the true beliefs to the surface. (Emphasis added.)

Read her whole comment here. There’s a lot to it, as I’m sure you find there always is.

The difference between what we really believe and what we say we believe is often stark. It seems to me that we profess to believe one thing, but in our innermost being, we believe something else. 

We want to believe one thing, but our hearts run to something else. 

We want folks to think we believe one thing, but if we lift the curtain, that just isn’t what’s there.

This is hard territory for me. 

::

I’m a fan of Ted Dekker. I spoke once before about a character of his, Caleb, who was trying to return to the faith of his youth. Part of his journey he spent at the feet of a desert wanderer, Father Joseph Hadane. As Caleb wrestled through his own crisis of faith, he told Father Hadane that he was trying to “live up to” his beliefs. 

Father Hadane countered with a painfully difficult answer.

We always live up or down to our beliefs,” he said. “Beliefs are the rails which govern our lives. Our trains roll on them whether we like it or not. If your train is not rolling on the set of rails which you claim are yours, it’s because you have diverted your train to a different set of rails — these are your true beliefs now, not the rails you left.

::

Saying I believe something is not the same as believing it. How I live will reflect what I truly believe in my innermost core. 

My life, whether I like it or not, will reflect what I, in fact, believe.

Do you see why this is hard?

::

I can say anything I want. But is it what I truly believe? Does my train roll on the rails I claim are mine?

The most critical thing for me to believe, to fully accept as mine, to make both my professed belief as well as my deeply held core belief, is that abiding belief of which Paul spoke to the Philippian believers. That I do not have a “righteousness of my own that comes from the law,” but rather a “righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” Access to God that comes only through Christ, and not the slightest bit through me. 

“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” 

These bold things that Paul says here, I want them to be what is truly true for me. 

I want this to be the set of rails I roll on every single day.

::

But I’m not convinced that my life reflects that this is it for me. I’m not convinced that my train hasn’t become diverted. I’m not convinced that when the heat is turned up, as my friend points out, that this will be revealed as my deeply held, authentic belief. 

It all boils down to something as simple as this: Do I live what I say I believe?

And if I don’t live it, then do I really believe it at all? (Ouchie.)

And if I don’t believe it, then why do I say that I do? (Ouchier.)

::


My Unbelief

 

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
::
The tension I continually face between belief and doubt keeps playing itself out on these pages. If you find me redundant, it’s not that I don’t know I keep covering the same ground. I do know. But each day brings yet a new moment for me to choose one or the other.
Belief.
Or doubt. 
And I wrestle with the tension all day long. 
::
I often feel much like the father in Mark 9, who came to Jesus in complete desperation, pleading for the release of his son who was possessed by a demon. He had heard of this Jesus, and believed He was his one last hope to see his son delivered. 
This father had surely faced disappointment before, even just moments before, as Jesus’ own disciples failed to restore his son. And so now he came to Jesus, perhaps in a mix of hope and belief, but with doubt beginning to stain the edges. 
“I asked Your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not,” the anguished father told Jesus. 
::
He had reason to doubt. He’d stood by helplessly while a demon tormented his beloved son since his childhood. He’d watched his son thrash and convulse on the ground, out of control, foaming at the mouth. He seen his son, under the power of an unknown force, throw himself into water or fire. He’d seen people look away, even run away, in abject fear and disgust. 
Yet he’d never found a way to bring him back. He was the boy’s own father, and he could not help him. 
Even that very same day, his hopes had been dashed once more when these men, men that he had heard were with the Master and could do what He did, could not help him. 
If they couldn’t help him, why should he believe their Master? 
Was it just more snake oil?
Was there any hope at all?
::
Of course there was hope. 
The Master was his hope. His only hope.
He brought his son to Jesus, and they talked a while about his tortured son. At last, the father asked Jesus to move on his son’s behalf. “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us,” he begged.
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
And at that moment, the tension the father fought between belief and doubt burst out in the most contradictory of exclamations. “I do believe,” he cried out. “Help me overcome my unbelief!”
::
My same cry, daily.
I do believe!
Help me overcome my unbelief!
How can I say those things in the same breath? 
::
I say them all the time. Together. In the same sentence.
I believe, and I doubt. 
I believe, but I see doubt creep in. And so I, like the young man’s father, beg God to help me believe more. To help me believe it all, with all. 
To help me, in the midst of my doubt, to believe like I say I do.
::

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

The tension I continually face between belief and doubt keeps playing itself out on these pages. If you find me redundant, it’s not that I don’t know I keep covering the same ground. I do know. But each day brings yet a new moment for me to choose one or the other.

Belief.

Or doubt. 

And I wrestle with the tension all day long. 

::

I often feel much like the father in Mark 9, who came to Jesus in complete desperation, pleading for the release of his son who was possessed by a demon. He had heard of this Jesus, and believed He was his one last hope to see his son delivered. 

This father had surely faced disappointment before, even just moments before, as Jesus’ own disciples failed to restore his son. And so now he came to Jesus, perhaps in a mix of hope and belief, but with doubt beginning to stain the edges. 

“I asked Your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not,” the anguished father told Jesus. 

::

He had reason to doubt. He’d stood by helplessly while a demon tormented his beloved son since his childhood. He’d watched his son thrash and convulse on the ground, out of control, foaming at the mouth. He seen his son, under the power of an unknown force, throw himself into water or fire. He’d seen people look away, even run away, in abject fear and disgust. 

Yet he’d never found a way to bring him back. He was the boy’s own father, and he could not help him. 

Even that very same day, his hopes had been dashed once more when these men, men that he had heard were with the Master and could do what He did, could not help him. 

If they couldn’t help him, why should he believe their Master? 

Was it just more snake oil?

Was there any hope at all?

::

Of course there was hope. 

The Master was his hope. His only hope.

He brought his son to Jesus, and they talked a while about his tortured son. At last, the father asked Jesus to move on his son’s behalf. “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us,” he begged.

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

And at that moment, the tension the father fought between belief and doubt burst out in the most contradictory of exclamations. “I do believe,” he cried out. “Help me overcome my unbelief!”

::

My same cry, daily.

I do believe!

Help me overcome my unbelief!

How can I say those things in the same breath? 

::

I say them all the time. Together. In the same sentence.

I believe, and I doubt. 

I believe, but I see doubt creep in. And so I, like the young man’s father, beg God to help me believe more. To help me believe it all, with all. 

To help me, in the midst of my doubt, to believe like I say I do.

::


Inconceivable!

 

Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that. (1 Corinthians 1:7-9 MSG)
::
You know Inigo and Vizzini, right? 
Please, tell me that you do. You have to know these guys from The Princess Bride. If you know them, then what I’m going to say should make pretty good sense. But in case you don’t, let me fill you in. Not on the whole story — you really should rent the DVD for that, and do it soon — but just a little bit about these two fellas. 
Vizzini’s favorite word, it seems, is “inconceivable.” He says it all the time. Anything that doesn’t happen to fit into his construct of reality is simply “inconceivable.” The problem is that as often as he says something is “inconceivable,” it turns out that it is not only quite conceivable, but it is also quite possible. Even probable. Very likely. 
In fact, the inconceivable has probably already happened.
It was inconceivable that anyone from Florin could have caught up with their ship, it was inconceivable that the Dread Pirate Roberts wouldn’t fall off the Cliffs of Insanity, and it was inconceivable that he could be beaten in a battle of wits (he was a Sicilian, after all, and you never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!). Yet, all those very inconceivable things…happened.
And so, after hearing his companion repeatedly insist that completely conceivable events are inconceivable, as the hero does successfully scale the Cliffs of Insanity, Inigo finally tells Vizzini, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Vizzini acts like the word means one thing. But reality keeps making it look like it means something completely different.
::
I think many times, it would be very reasonable for the Inigo’s in my life to say to me, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” When you line up the things I say I believe against how I live my life, does it look like the words mean what I say they mean? Does it look like I believe they are true? 
Words like…grace.
   Words like …faith.
      Words like…redemption.
If I really believe these words mean what God says they mean, if I really believe what Jesus says is true, why is my life characterized by so much doubt and striving?
::
If I really believe that God extends His grace to me — that I can do nothing to earn His favor because He gives it to me for free — why do I work so hard to convince Him to like me?
If I really believe that God will do what He says He will — if I really have faith in Him — why do I second guess and make contingency plans just in case He doesn’t come through? (And why am I surprised so often when He does?)
If I really believe that Jesus paid the price to redeem me — that His blood was substituted for mine and that He paid the price to buy me back — why do I still act like I’m a slave to sin and that He doesn’t own me?
::
It seems inconceivable in the face of all He’s said and all He’s done that I would have trouble with this. 
But I do. 
What about you?
::

Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that. (1 Corinthians 1:7-9 MSG)

You know Inigo and Vizzini, right? 

Please, tell me that you do. You have to know these guys from The Princess Bride. If you know them, then what I’m going to say should make pretty good sense. But in case you don’t, let me fill you in. Not on the whole story — you really should rent the DVD for that, and do it soon — but just a little bit about these two fellas. 

Vizzini’s favorite word, it seems, is inconceivable. He says it all the time. Anything that doesn’t happen to fit into his construct of reality is simply inconceivable. The problem is that as often as he says something is inconceivable, it turns out that it is not only quite conceivable, but it is also quite possible. Even probable. 

In fact, odds are the inconceivable has already occurred.

It was inconceivable that anyone from Florin could have caught up with their ship, it was inconceivable that the Dread Pirate Roberts wouldn’t fall off the Cliffs of Insanity, and it was inconceivable that he could be beaten in a battle of wits (he was a Sicilian, after all, and you never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!).

Yet, all those very inconceivable things . . . happened.

And so, after hearing his companion repeatedly insist that completely conceivable events are inconceivable, and as the hero does successfully scale the Cliffs of Insanity, Inigo finally confronts Vizzini.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Vizzini acts like the word means one thing. But reality keeps making it look like it means something completely different.

::

I think many times, it would be very reasonable for the Inigo’s in my life to say to me, You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

When you line up the things I say I believe against how I live my life, does it look like the words mean what I say they mean?

Does it look like I believe they are true? 

Words like . . . grace.

   Words like . . . faith.

      Words like . . . redemption.

If I really believe these words mean what God says they mean, if I really believe what Jesus says is true, why is my life characterized by so much doubt and striving?

::

If I really believe that God extends His grace to me — that I can do nothing to earn His favor because He gives it to me for free — why do I work so hard to convince Him to like me?

If I really believe that God will do what He says He will — if I really have faith in Him — why do I second guess and make contingency plans just in case He doesn’t come through? (And why am I surprised so often when He does?)

If I really believe that Jesus paid the price to redeem me — that His blood was substituted for mine and that He paid the price to buy me back — why do I still act like I’m a slave to sin and that He doesn’t own me?

::

It seems inconceivable in the face of all He’s said and all He’s done that I would have trouble with this. 

But I do. 

What about you?

::


Anti-Lock Brakes

 

We live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
::
We’re in full blizzard mode here in South Dakota. We had a few days of respite this past week, just bitterly cold temperatures but not so much falling and blowing snow. But now we’re right back at it. A thick new layer of soft white powder is blowing around now, leaving mountainous drifts and obscuring visibility. And it’s so blistering cold that a person really wouldn’t want to be out in it. I realize blistering is usually associated with heat. But this is the kind of cold that burns.
Nevertheless, we were out in it. We had to go out to collect children at the theater and take care of a friend’s cat. As we drove down the ice packed highway, the stoplight turned yellow. Lane applied the brakes. And then we cringed and listened to that excruciating grind. And felt the Tahoe keep sliding. And sliding. And grinding. 
Grinding. 
Sliding. 
Intersection growing closer.
And then, the vehicle stopped. Right at the edge of the crosswalk. Just like it was supposed to. 
Antilock brakes make me crazy.
::
All the way through driver’s ed, at least in my part of the country, they hammer into your head that you never just hold down your brakes when you are stopping on ice. You pump your brakes. 
Don’t hold ’em. Pump ’em.
But not antilock brakes. Once you put ’em down, you just hang on and wait for the vehicle to stop. You fight every urge to let up and pump the brakes. And remarkably, the vehicle stops. 
You’ve got to trust the ABS. And nine times out of ten (remember, I’m a claims adjuster — I’ve seen too much to be able to say 100 percent), they come through. 
But only if you trust them enough not to pump the brakes. 
Only if you trust them enough not to take matters into your own hands.
Only if you trust them enough to let them do what they were made to do.
::
How many times do I act like God is the old fashioned brake system? He tells me to apply the brakes and hang on. He’ll stop the car. But it doesn’t feel like He’s going to come through. I can hear the grinding and I can see the sliding. I want to pump the brakes. I want to make sure I maintain some control. 
I can’t turn it over to a brake system I don’t understand. 
We live by faith, not by sight. This is what Paul stressed so earnestly to the Corinthian church. What we see can throw us off. It can make us think God is not coming through. It can make it look like we’re going to crash right into that car coming into the intersection. It can make us only hear the grinding and see the sliding. 
But faith, faith is something different. The Message translation puts it like this: “It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going.” It’s our trust that the antilock brakes don’t need to be pumped that keeps us holding the pedal down. When we rely only on what we can see, we’re surely going to pump the brakes. And in all likelihood, crash.
::
We live by faith, not by sight. Our trust in what we don’t yet see (oh, but one day we will) keeps us going. 
Don’t pump the brakes. Fight the urge to take things into your own hands.
Hold on through the grinding and sliding, and trust the brakes to work like they are supposed to. 
No matter what you see.
Let what you don’t yet see keep you going.
::

We live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

We’re in full blizzard mode here in South Dakota. We had a few days of respite this past week, just bitterly cold temperatures but not so much falling and blowing snow. But now we’re right back at it. A thick new layer of soft white powder is blowing around now, leaving mountainous drifts and obscuring visibility. And it’s so blistering cold that a person really wouldn’t want to be out in it. I realize blistering is usually associated with heat. But this is the kind of cold that burns.

Nevertheless, we were out in it. We had to go out to collect children at the theater and take care of a friend’s cat. As we drove down the ice packed highway, the stoplight turned yellow. Lane applied the brakes. And then we cringed and listened to that excruciating grind. And felt the Tahoe keep sliding. And sliding. And grinding. 

Grinding. 

Sliding. 

Intersection growing closer.

And then, the vehicle stopped. Right at the edge of the crosswalk. Just like it was supposed to. 

Antilock brakes make me crazy.

::

All the way through driver’s ed, at least in my part of the country, they hammer into your head that you never just hold down your brakes when you are stopping on ice. You pump your brakes. 

Don’t hold ’em. Pump ’em.

But not antilock brakes. Once you put ’em down, you just hang on and wait for the vehicle to stop. You fight every urge to let up and pump the brakes. And remarkably, the vehicle stops. 

You’ve got to trust the ABS. And nine times out of ten (remember, I’m a claims adjuster — I’ve seen too much to be able to say 100 percent), they come through. 

But only if you trust them enough not to pump the brakes. 

Only if you trust them enough not to take matters into your own hands.

Only if you trust them enough to let them do what they were made to do.

::

How many times do I act like God is the old fashioned brake system? He tells me to apply the brakes and hang on. He’ll stop the car. But it doesn’t feel like He’s going to come through. I can hear the grinding and I can see the sliding. I want to pump the brakes. I want to make sure I maintain some control. 

I can’t turn it over to a brake system I don’t understand. 

We live by faith, not by sight. This is what Paul stressed so earnestly to the Corinthian church. What we see can throw us off. It can make us think God is not coming through. It can make it look like we’re going to crash right into that car coming into the intersection. It can make us only hear the grinding and see the sliding. 

But faith, faith is something different. The Message translation puts it like this: “It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going.” It’s our trust that the antilock brakes don’t need to be pumped that keeps us holding the pedal down. When we rely only on what we can see, we’re surely going to pump the brakes. And in all likelihood, crash.

::

We live by faith, not by sight. Our trust in what we don’t yet see (oh, but one day we will) keeps us going. 

Don’t pump the brakes. Fight the urge to take things into your own hands.

Hold on through the grinding and sliding, and trust the brakes to work like they are supposed to. 

No matter what you see.

Let what you don’t yet see keep you going.

::