My mind is regularly occupied with thoughts of my amazing 28-year old son, Jeff. Yesterday, that mind transported me back in time to Jeff's twelfth year, when he and one of his best buddies, Nathan, attended a youth retreat as part of our church's confirmation process. Because we did not communicate with the boys during the weekend, we were excited for their return home, when we would hear all about their retreat adventures.
When Jeff arrived home on Sunday evening, he shared a story with us that reduces me to tears of joy and laughter, even today. He spoke enthusiastically about a weekend filled with lessons on God and Jesus, games, music and copious amounts of candy. He said that he and Nathan had been especially moved by their first-night praise and worship experience and so, high on Jesus (and on sugar), they came forward during the altar call to publicly profess their belief in God and in His Son. The next evening of praise and worship brought more of that same euphoria and, at night's end, Jeff and Nathan found themselves again rushing down the aisle to the altar, inspired once more to make public professions of their faith. These boys enjoyed an incredibly special encounter with God that weekend - they received a "double portion" of the Divine - and it served to cultivate their faith in the years that followed.
I'd like to think of myself as the kind of gal who is ever rushing down the proverbial aisle of life to receive a "double portion" of the Divine. One whose faith runs deep - whose convictions remain steadfast - even through the most trying of times. And, finally, one who continues to believe that God's plans are the best plans, even if I occasionally fail to understand them. But I must admit that my confidence takes a beating from time to time; my faith falters and I question the wisdom of God's ways. I open the pages of my Bible and am reminded that a faltering faith is nothing new. The ninth chapter of Mark recites the story of a man who experiences a crisis of faith when an evil spirit possesses his son. The man begs Christ to intervene, pleading:
"Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”
“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
"... help me overcome my unbelief!" How often, confidence shaken, have I cried out those same words? But why do I fail to trust in God? After all, in looking back on my life, I can see that God has never failed to uphold His promises to me; it is I that sometimes fail Him. I disregard His invitation to come to Him... to cast my cares upon Him rather than carry them myself... to set aside my fears... to commit the entirety of myself to His ways. I open the pages of my Bible and revisit the unending, unfailing, and unfaltering promises God makes to His beloved children. I pour over these promises; they feed my faith and dispel the doubts that threaten to disable me:
I will give you rest.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. ~Matthew 11:28-30
I will care for you.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. ~1 Peter 5:7
I will strengthen, help and uphold you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and
help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. ~Isaiah 41:10
I will grant you peace.
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You. Trust in the
LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD Himself, is the Rock eternal. ~Isaiah 26:3-4
I will act.
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act. ~Psalm 37:5
I will be with you.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is
with you wherever you go. ~Joshua 1:9
When I was a kid, I loved ice cream - licorice and burgundy cherry were my favorite flavors, in case you were wondering. Before Mom could even get that first scoop of ice cream into my bowl, I'd yell, "Make mine a double!" So Mom would dutifully dip the spoon into the ice cream carton and serve me a "double portion." More was always better where ice cream was involved. And more is infinitely better where faith in God is involved. With faith, life becomes more abundant, more joyful, more fulfilling. Burdens become lighter and peace prevails. And with a "double portion" of faith? Well, that kind of faith brings one to the conclusion that anything is, indeed, possible. So make mine a double, God!
Fill me with a hunger for You, a hunger that causes me to rush often down the proverbial altar of life, eager for a "double portion" of the Divine. Feed my faith so that its roots run deep, and allow my trust in Your plans to flourish, so that I might fully experience all that You have promised me. Promises of rest, strength, help, peace and, most importantly, Your presence. Help me to live as one who is convinced that "anything is possible" when I place my confidence in You.
I pray this all in the name of Your Precious Son, Amen.