Help My Unbelief

I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.

–Mark 9:24

When I was a child, Christmas was probably my favorite time of year.  I’ll admit it: For me it was more about receiving than giving.  The anticipation was almost too much to bear.  I didn’t mind waiting until Christmas Day to receive my presents, but I hated not knowing what I was getting.  In fact, I would sometimes peel away the tape from wrapped gifts to have a peek at what was underneath, and then I would tape them back up.

My desire to have the answers hasn’t changed much now that I am rapidly approaching my 38th birthday.  Very rarely do I have time for personal reading anymore (my reading time is consumed with ministry training and development), but when I do, I tend to skim a book, even to the point of being “spoiled”, before I actually read it through.  Likewise, I often go into movies having a good idea of what to expect.

When it comes to life, there are no easy answers.  Though we may have an idea of what we are going to do at some point in the future, circumstances (sometimes in our control, but often not) can and will rapidly change things up on us.  It reminds me of a line from the John Lennon song Beautiful Boy: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  I know that some find these uncertainties adventurous, and they enjoy the unveiling of the mysteries as life unfolds.  Not me, though.  I hate not having a good idea of what I will be doing a few months down the road, or a couple of years.  I don’t need to know too far in advance.  I’ve never been one to develop even a strict five-year plan, knowing that the variables of life will undoubtedly render it obsolete.  And I do not need specifics, but I like having a general sense of direction.

When I find myself in situations of uncertainty, I am reminded of the man with the demon-possessed son, who’s story is told in Mark 9.  Jesus tells this man that anything is possible for those who believe.  The man responds, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

What contradictory creatures we are!  We can be fully assured of something in our minds, but when it comes to committing that to our hearts, we easily fail.  My life is built upon the assurance that as long as I faithfully live out my calling to represent Christ and fulfill the mission given to me to bring restoration to brokenness in all the situations I find myself in, God will see me through all things.  However, in the face of imminent uncertainty, it is easy to find myself like Peter walking on the water but looking at the wind and the waves around me.

Of course, as soon as we take our eyes off Jesus, we begin to sink under all that assaults us.  In my case, this usually means that I am overcome with anxiety, apprehension, and despair.  I am so overcome that it is difficult for me to do much of anything.  What, then, is the solution?  As always, it is to fix our eyes on Jesus.  It is to be like Peter, sinking beneath the waves, when he calls out to the Lord to save him.  It is to be like the father of the demon-possessed boy, and exclaim, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

In the long run, it doesn’t really matter what we will be doing five years, five months, or even five minutes from now.  What matters is that wherever we find ourselves, and in whatever situations we find ourselves, we are faithful to our calling.  We do not even need to be successful at what we are doing, as long as we are faithful.  When we are faithful, God will see us through.  After all, we are only called upon to play one small part in the tapestry of human existence.  Someone else will come along and weave their threads into the tapestry where we left off, and the completed work will be better for it.

After all, what is Apollos? What is Paul? They are servants who helped you to believe. Each one had a role given to them by the Lord: I planted, Apollos watered, but God made it grow.

–1 Corinthians 3:5-6

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