Passports and mountains

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One time a very concerned and loving dad brought his son to Jesus. His son had been suffering violent seizures for his entire life. This dad was hoping that Jesus could heal his son. This dad was hoping that he wouldn’t have to continue to watch his son’s body betray him and put him in danger. I imagine this dad had been to religious leaders and healers before. I imagine he’d tried medicines and prayer and lifestyle changes in attempts to heal his son. So now he’s coming to Jesus, hoping that maybe this guy will know what he’s doing.

So he says, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” The Bible says that Jesus said, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” But I imagine there was a “pfft” in there somewhere. “Pfft! If I can? Have you not heard of me?” Something like that.

Then this poor long-suffering dad cries out, “I believe, help my unbelief!”

And for the past couple of months this has been my life verse.

My favorite part of this exhausted father’s exclamation is that it’s one sentence. It’s one, seemingly contradictory thought. I believe, help my unbelief. I get it, I have no idea. I understand the Bible, it doesn’t make any sense. I love God, I barely know Him. I am capable, I need lots of help. I’m fine, I’m crying.

I believe that until the day I die I will be able to cry out this crazy proclamation with this loving dad. I believe that I’m settling in to the truth that we can never know it all, that for our whole entire lives we can believe with our whole hearts while knowing at the same time that even that belief is dependent on the God who empowers and enables us. I believe, help my unbelief.

It’s another in a long line of the “fake it till you make it” scenarios that make up my life. Even when I’m not sure what I believe, I know exactly who to call out to for help. I know that I can confidently and shakily stand on the completely mysterious foundation of Jesus sure that I believe in Him but not always sure what that means.

The other day I was talking about the Bible with two Jehovah’s Witnesses and a German doctor with a lot of questions. One of my favorite parts of the conversations was when the skeptical German asked a question and I said, “I don’t know! I have no idea.” I believe, help my unbelief.

A couple days later I was looking for my passport for my upcoming trip to the States. I usually keep my passport in the same place but I had needed it for something and instead of putting it back in the usual spot I put it somewhere else. Except it wasn’t where I thought I had put it. So I decided to start in one corner of my house and look very carefully until I found it. Before I started looking I twirled around my kitchen and prayed. (That’s how everyone prays, right? Twirling?) I said, “Lord, you said that if I believe I can move mountains, I can actually move mountains. Well, I believe that no matter where my passport is right now that You can put it somewhere where I can find it.”

And He did. Not 10 minutes later I found my passport in a random empty binder on the shelf. I definitely did not put it there.

But then I said, “But God, I also believe, I really, really believe, that you can get all the cancer out of the 6th grade girl at Las Palmas. And I really, really believe that you can heal my friend’s mom. With the same faith I had about my passport! So why don’t you do that? We believe, Lord! Why isn’t the mountain moving?” We believe, help our unbelief. 

The thing is, if we believe what He said about moving mountains, we have to believe what He said about working all things together for our good, even when cancer feels like everything NOT good. He loves us, right? He knows what He’s doing, right? I believe, help my unbelief.

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