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Posts Tagged ‘Mark’

sprout in asphaltBe careful what you ask for. That’s the old saying when people ask for patience. . . . you know what you get? Trying and irritating situations that give us patience practice. Well, here’s another one, be careful about asking God to increase your faith, because it’s dire circumstances that build faith.

Gale-force winds arose, and waves crashed against the boat so that the boat was swamped. But Jesus was in the rear of the boat, sleeping on a pillow. They woke him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re drowning?”He got up and gave orders to the wind, and he said to the lake, “Silence! Be still!” The wind settled down and there was a great calm. Jesus asked them, “Why are you frightened? Don’t you have faith yet?”
[Mark 4: 37 – 40; CEB]

They were nearly drowned. Despite having walked with Jesus and watched him heal hundreds of people (see verse 3:10), when they were in their own cataclysm, the challenge to “keep the faith” was much more difficult.

Perhaps they even tried. I can imagine the guys debating whether or not to wake Jesus up (who apparently was so unfazed by the situation that he slept like a baby). Did they know this was some kind of test of faith (after all, it was Jesus’s idea to cross over the lake)? Which of the twelve finally caved in and woke up the master with fear and trembling and even challenged Jesus, “Don’t you care . . .?” (Reminds of the character, Martin Udall, in the film, As Good As It Gets, who says, “I’m drowning here, and you’re describing the water!”)

We are driven by our circumstances. Despite knowing in our heads that the world does not revolve around us, we still tend to view the world from center of the universe. Look, what is happening to me! Where is God? Where is Jesus? This can’t be right! I’m suffering here, like another movie character, Ratzo Rizzo in MIdnight Cowboy, “I’m walkin’ here; I’m walkin’ here.” The implication, again, is that circumstances need to adjust to our presence.

But faith walks in the face of circumstances. Faith moves in a straight line no matter what is happening around us. Faith is the tortoise, undaunted by the wily hare or the long, long road.

Faith is not built on the easy life. In Matthew 5:43-48, we are reminded that it’s easy to love those who love you, it’s loving the enemies that becomes a challenge. So it is with faith. You want your faith to grow? Give thanks for the difficult days.

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miraclesA man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child ” . . . Even while the boy was coming [toward Jesus], the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the impure spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. [Luke 9:38; 42-43]

Oh, I know. It’s uncomfortable to talk about demons, the devil, miracles, and all that stuff outside our normal understanding of how stuff works. Some people can’t even stand the word “evil” as though excluding it from one’s vocabulary will make it non-existent.

And yet, I contend, if we have accepted any part of the Christ story, we must be willing to consider the reality of the other parts. In other words, there are ways that our lives can and are impacted outside of a three-dimensional world. There is a spirit world and within it, forces move in a way that we may not understand, but that does not mean they don’t exist.

In recent weeks, I was instructed by a doctor to read a book about the importance of the mind in regards to pain in my body. It’s not that the pain isn’t real, it’s that the pain is camouflage of other things going on and the mind, can indeed, intercept it. But I must be aware of this possibility before anything can happen differently. And I’m thinking miracles fall within this category, we have to have knowledge and acceptance of the possibility. This is the groundwork for healing. This is the groundwork for transformation.

It’s not important to know the “how,” but simply to surrender to the power of God to do.

What is even more interesting is that Christ empowers believers to do the same for others. Whoa! Prior to Jesus meeting up with the father and the demon-possessed boy, a few of the disciples had been given a crack at it. Nada. There was still a disconnect. This story is actually told in three of the gospels (Mark 9:37-45 and Matthew 17:14-23) and Jesus explains that both faith and prayer are the cornerstones of miracles. Not faith in ourselves, but faith in the God who has the power to do (or not do).

Of course, there is another truth I’m seeing in this passage. I know that miracles are wonderful, particularly for the suffering human. But I don’t believe that miracles happen for the sake of the person. They have to be within God’s purposes, God’s scope, God’s plan. That may sound harsh, but let’s be honest, if it were otherwise, ALL would be healed. We are not all healed. Sometimes the human journey is full of heartache, illness, poverty, and sorrow. I don’t understand that any more than the next person.

So, what is my role? Do I ask for the miracle or not? Do I ask for the demon to be cast out or not? Do I ask for the healing or not?

One mistake in this asking process is to add the little insurance statement at the end, “if it be your will.” Well, that covers all the bases then, doesn’t it? I have a little back door when the healing doesn’t happen: must not have been God’s will. Yada, yada, yada. It doesn’t, however, do much for the faith angle though, does it?

So here’s the bottom line for me: “Don’t ask if I don’t believe it IS God’s will.” And if I don’t know, then don’t pray, because honestly, that’s perverse. That’s so maybe. It’s a disservice to my God who can heal and cast out demons in a moment. Silence is better. Prayer is better in private then, asking God for clarity and faith, courage and heart, vision and transparency. These then, would set the stage for God to work through me (or you).

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