“And He answered them, ‘O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ And he said, ‘From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’ And Jesus said, ‘If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out, ‘I believe! Help my unbelief!’ “
I have a new definition for unbelief. It’s living as if you have no God. Doesn’t matter that I consider myself a Christ follower, that I go to church, that I could write a book or two with not only my own stories of God’s faithfulness and His faithfulness to others –if I am living as if I have no Father, I am guilty of unbelief, a sin I didn’t really think about much until these last few days.
I found myself thinking more than once about the passage I quoted above. When I first read the father of the possessed boy’s response, I remember thinking, “What a stupid thing to say! Either you believe, or you don’t!” Now, however, I think I get it. The last few busy days of preparation to go I’ve been battling fear, presenting itself as that leaded feeling at the bottom of the gut that keeps poking me, questioning whether or not there’s something crucial I forgot or didn’t do that will either make us unable to go, or at the least, make us deal with unpleasant consequences. I know that feeling well. It didn’t help that June finally decided to make an appearance in Wisconsin, bringing with it the storms and threatening weather that always get me on edge. One of my “unreasonable fears” is tornadoes. “Unreasonable fears” are the fears that make you so senseless things to avoid them. Remnants of the childhood fears that make you scream or run away. The sort of fear grownups aren’t supposed to have. Mine are one of the kids choking, tornadoes, and bees. Vomiting used to be on that list, but after having three kids, one with gastroesophogeal reflux disease, that’s kinda been dealt with :).
About fears, reasonable or not, if we truly live in the awareness and knowledge that we have a God who loves us completely and unconditionally (through Christ), is any fear really “reasonable”? In light of God’s sovereignty, no. Not really. Fear is a symptom of unbelief. If we believe that God in his love of us only gives us what is best (however unpleasant that best might be), and we are walking in obedience to what He asks, fear might be a red flag that somewhere there just could some unbelief lurking about. If we find we are not walking in obedience, then that red flag of fear could be the thing that calls to attention the need for repentance. But it still all goes back to unbelief –why do we disobey? Observing my son, I’ve learned that a lot of disobedience stems from either not believing obeying would be in our best interest, or in not believing that obedience is possible. Unbelief again, resulting in disobedience, which shows itself in fear of the consequences of our sin.
So, that’s what I’m up against this week. I need to believe that no matter how many pairs of underwear I forget, or whether we break down in the middle of Montana, or if I forget to replace the windshield wiper and we wind up in a rainstorm in the middle of South Dakota, or if one of us ends up sick, we’ll still be fine, and God will use it to teach me to relax and believe that He will provide what we need when we need it.