A good friend of mine, Mike, has been struggling with many things. One of the things he has been struggling with that WE ALL STRUGGLE WITH if we are honest with ourselves, is FAITH. Not faith as in, “Do I believe that Jesus is my Lord and Savior?” That is “belief”. You can believe and not have faith…..however, you can’t have faith with unbelief. They are closely related yet subtly different, entwined together like a rope. Faith is not something we necessarily “achieve”, it is not stored away and therefore builds up so that we have an abundance of it. No, faith is a CONSTANT growing process……a daily renewing of our trust and love for Jesus! And, I believe, it can’t be obtained nor maintained without help……”Lord, help me in my unbelief (faith)!”
Mark 9:21-24 (TNIV)
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” 23 ” ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Let me point a couple of things here that I find stirring…then I want to share the testimony of a friend of mine. Incidentally, he called me today before I started writing this devotion on the next verses in the Gospel of Mark that we are looking at today. That, in itself is a clear sign that God is with us, in control and lovingly smiling on us. It’s as if Jesus were saying to me, “Jan D., today I want you to ponder and contemplate ‘faith’. Here, let me have someone give you a call.”
First, from these Scriptures in Mark, I want to point out that this father is in a place where everything has not been working out to well. The disciples were unable to heal his son.
Second, that word translated as “believes” in verse 23 is the Greek word, “pisteuonti” which is a form of the word “pisteuo” [pist-yoo-o]. In its fuller sense, this word means, “believe to the extent of complete trust”.
Now let me share the testimony of my friend Mike. I would note that in the word “testimony”, the first syllable is, “test”. Mike pointed that out to me today. The question is, are gonna pass the test? Isn’t that the question?
Mike relapsed a few months ago, is single and was renting a room from people who were always using illegal substances. He had a great job, not one that, in his words, was really a job he prayed for, but one that he made happen apart from God. Nothing big here, he was a bus driver. But still an important point as you will see. Mike, in his relapse, again began to really turn to Jesus every day and cried out as only a man in deep pain can cry out. I too heard his cry many times on the phone. We talked and I tried to encourage him to stay close to Jesus as He is our source of strength!
He called me one day a month ago and told me that he had removed himself from the house he was living in, had lost his job, and was now homeless. He was now living in his car and sleeping in 7-Eleven parking lots at night. What’s funny is that when he called….he was straight and downright joyful! He spoke of a “freeing” feeling in his heart and mind. He had not had drink one! He told me that he KNEW God was in this and that he just had to be patient and stay close Him, indeed, stay close to Jesus. That was a month ago. Recently he has been camping out on a friend’s recliner….which is a step up, huh?
He also has been serving on our 6am Sunday setup team each and every week (he has always been a faithful member of the team), he served with us last night at Grace and Grits, feeding the hungry. Incidentally, that is where I met Mike many years ago. He was in recovery at Crossroads and would come to serve and to listen to my sermons for those in addiction.
Well, this morning I received a call from Mike. He had an interview for a job we had been praying for. It’s in IT (Information Technology), something Mike has being going to school for over the last few years. He went in for the interview, they handed him some papers and said, “fill these out and come in on Monday to start!” Good things come to those who seek to live in God’s will rather than their own will. Patience is truly a virtue, and Jesus is always with us!
In our conversation, all I heard from Mike was praise, joy, surrender, patience and………FAITH! It’s funny, Mike talked about patience and told me with a chuckle that he often talks to God and says, “When you get to me Lord, I appreciate it, there are millions of people You are dealing with every day.” He also told me how much he had learned recently about prayer. He told me that he had learned that prayer is not always on your knees, it is simply a part of our daily rhythm in life. Talking to God is simply a never ending conversation…..because HE IS WITH US!
A strong point that I want to make in Mike’s testimony is that throughout the whole month (it actually started longer before that), as Mike was homeless, jobless, when everything seemed like it was going south, Mike had faith and Mike had joy in his heart! Faith in Jesus and joy….DAILY…. in God’s mercy and grace!
So, today and all days, ask God to help you in your unbelief, to help you believe to the extent of complete trust! I ask Him every day, and I am a pastor. “Lord, help me stay grounded in you. Help me trust in your will, not mine. Help me in my unbelief!”
Hebrews 11:1 (TNIV)
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.