Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Gift of Faith

For the last few weeks, anger and frustration have dominated my emotions. I’ve had moments of “breakthrough” in my thinking, trying to rest in trust.  But my heart and mind would fidget back to those all-encompassing questions of “why, God? Why don’t you relent?  Give my dad a break already.”  This weekend, anger settled into my heart as this putrid God-resentful bitterness.  After all, I already had it all figured out; I knew what God needed to do, and despite all my prayers to that effect, He wasn’t coming through for me.
Monday morning, I started reading my Bible study.  The day prior, in tears of utter failure and disappointment, I told my husband I needed to step down from my leadership role in our group.  After all, what kind of Christian walks around with their fist raised to God?  But I hadn’t had a chance to settle that issue yet, and out of nothing more than begrudging obedience, I started reading out of Luke 5.

Simon Peter has an encounter with Jesus, and I was about to have one as well.
 Jesus walks up to Simon, climbs into his boat, and after speaking to the crowd, turns to Simon and tells him to let out their nets for a catch.
Simon responds with doubt, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5).
The words jumped off the page and sunk deep into my psyche.  I tried to go on, but God’s Spirit wouldn’t let me.  I couldn’t go on until I wrestled with it a little more. 
We’ve worked hard all night—We’ve already tried that, God.  All night long, we tried.  And nothing.
I couldn’t help but think of Dad.  Over and over, seemingly every method possible (chemo, radiation, alternative treatments, diet, prayer, healing rooms, on and on… over and over) has already been tried.  My net of faith is empty, God. 
But Simon didn’t just question, he followed up, “But because you say so, I will…” It didn’t have to make sense to him; it went against reason, but he did it anyway.  After all, Simon had cause to believe.  Jesus had already healed his mother-in-law in an immediate and miraculous way.  But he wasn’t fully confident.
The beauty of this whole encounter is that Jesus honored his obedience, even if his faith was weak.  I always think about Peter’s experience with Jesus later on, when Jesus rebukes Peter for doubting, “you of little faith” (Matthew 14:31).  I feel helpless at that point.  Being much like Peter myself—do now, think later—I probably would have been action-oriented without taking into account my limited faith. 
But the overwhelming power of Jesus’ display humbles Simon to the point of recognizing who he is in front of the Christ. “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees  and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’” (Luke 5:8).
Like Peter, I felt broad-sided by God’s power and holiness.  Shame washed over my bruised and angry heart, and I started repenting of my arrogance.  Forgive my pride. Forgive my anger. Forgive me for not treating you with reverence.
God, you do whatever you please. I trust you. I am nothing without you. What do I, a mere sinful and finite being, understand?  Who am I to hand you a list and expect you to do my bidding?  Who am I, Lord?   I am forever in your debt for your redemptive grace over me. You are good. So good. Thank you for your mercy and grace to me. I don’t deserve it, but I’m so glad you don’t give up on me.
As soon as I prayed, God swept away all my anger, doubt, and fear.  Gone.  And in its place came this overpowering joy.  I just started praising God, thanking Him for freeing me from such an ugly burden.  For lifting that which didn’t honor Him and replacing it with such a beautiful gift—faith.
God led me to 2 Corinthians 4:7-18, and I knew God wanted me to take a step of faith.  I knew God wanted me to throw my net of faith out into the waters.  I needed to lay hands on Dad and pray for him. No confidence came that He would heal Dad, but I certainly knew he could.  I trembled with nervousness; after all, who was I to pray a prayer of faith over Dad?  My faith net was torn and full of holes.  But as 2 Corinthians 4:7 reminded me, I am a weak vessel, a jar of clay, “to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from [me].”
I knew that if I cowered to my fear, I would be picking of the chains and re-shackling myself to doubt. I didn’t want to go back—never again.  Plus, I knew if I didn’t obey, I would explode. God’s power was so mighty in my spirit.
God, regardless of what you choose to do, I will obey and I won’t doubt.  If Dad feels immediate healing, if his healing comes gradually, or if you choose to take him home, I will trust you.  You are good.  You are God. 
“Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” 2 Corinthians 3: 12 
My parents and I had a beautiful time of submission and humble faith-prayer.  And as my dad struggled through pain last night, I ached inside, but my faith didn’t crumble.  The anger didn’t resurge, and my joy continued to feed my hope. 
This morning that joy greeted me again, reminding me of God’s merciful gifts: faith, hope, and love. 

No comments:

Post a Comment