Saturday, January 28, 2012

Where is My Faith?

I’m still ruminating on the thought in my last post that I might be missing things God is saying because I’m not listening, or I’m not listening right. Maybe His words are blocked out by my preconceived ideas, or my lack of faith keeps me from tuning into the proper channels.

Lack of faith could be a huge block to my hearing from God.

Today I read the story, in Luke 8:22-25, of Jesus calming the storm. The disciples are with Jesus on the lake in a boat they’re used to sailing by themselves. But on this day a storm comes up—something they can’t handle.

This is a serious problem. The Bible says they were “in great danger.” But in this account they don’t even ask Jesus to help. Maybe it hasn’t occurred to them yet that He could do anything about the situation. They just tell Him, “We’re going to drown.”

He calms the storm, and then he asks, “Where is your Faith?”

I’ve always assumed He was just asking why they doubted, and Mark's gospel account of the story supports that idea. But what if this isn’t a rhetorical question? What if He really wants them to think about the answer-—to consider where they're placing their faith?

I recently read A. J. Jacob’s book, The Year of Living Biblically. In it he recounts a story from Jewish oral tradition. According to the legend, the Red Sea didn’t part when Moses held out his staff over the water. It didn’t part until some relatively unknown Israelite stepped into the sea. Not until he walked in ankle deep, then knee deep, then waist deep, then shoulder deep, then neck deep.

Then God parted the water.

This isn’t actually how it happened. I doubt there was an Israelite among them who had that much faith, for one thing. And, according to the Bible, the waters were pushed back all night long by a strong wind. But the story still illustrates a great truth, supported by other stories of faith in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments.

I’m working toward a theology of faith in my walk with the Lord. Maybe the things I want to see God doing, in my life and in the lives of people I pray for—-things I know are in His will—-require acts, or steps of faith on my part. I’m not sure what that looks like. Faith steps will probably look different for every request. But the idea excites me.

In verse 25, the disciples ask their own question: “Who is this?” they say.

I think the answer to both questions-—the one Jesus asks, and the one they are asking-—should be the same.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Being Dumb about Being Deaf

I’ve been reading in Luke during my times with Jesus these days, seeing lots of things I never noticed before, some significant and some just interesting. I’ve decided, as part of my new years’ plan to blog more regularly, that I will share random thoughts from my devotional journal in this blog.

So here goes. My first random devotional thought of the New Year,
from Luke 1:57-66.
It's in the "Interesting" category.

Did you ever notice that when Zechariah was unable to speak for those months before John was born, his neighbors thought he couldn’t hear either? When John was born, and they were discussing what to name the new baby, “they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child.”

So why didn’t they just ask him?

Dumbness is normally caused by a person’s inability to hear spoken words. Zechariah’s friends had probably never met a dumb person who was not also deaf.

This is a great big LOL for me. I can just see Zechariah scribbling messages, time after time during those months while John was growing in the womb:

I AM NOT DEAF. I JUST CAN’T TALK. STOP YELLING IN MY EAR AND QUIT THE SIGN LANGUAGE ALREADY!

But when John was born, they were still communicating with him as if he were deaf. He had probably given up convincing them by this time. Meanwhile, imagine all the secrets he overheard.

Simon would say, “Shh. Watch what what you say about old lady Elizabeth. Zechariah is standing next to you.” And Perez would say, “Doesn’t matter. He can’t hear anything anyway.”

It’s kind of ironic. Who’s really deaf in this little story? And who’s really dumb?

So is there a significant point to this observation for me?

Maybe it’s that I need to recognize my very human tendency to just not “get it.” I wonder how many assumptions I make that are not true? Am I so sure I’m right about things that I never even hear someone when they tell me the truth? Maybe I think someone else is deaf, when it’s really me.

Are there any things I simply assume are true that even God couldn’t talk me out of?

How many notes will he have to write to me before I figure it out?

Friday, January 6, 2012

How Long Since You Asked?

I just finished re-reading This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti. He has angels prompting people to pray when the spiritual battle becomes hot and heavy. It reminded me of times in the past when God's people have been wakened in the night to pray for someone far away who is in need of prayer at that moment. It happened frequently with saints who've gone before us.

I believe it's the Holy Spirit, not angels, who does the prompting, but it seems like a long time since I've felt that nudge. It bothered me, and I asked the Lord why.

He said, "How long has it been since you asked how to pray?"