The Art of Discomfort
God knows how much I hate asking for help.
I’m reading the Gospel of Mark again. I always forget about Mark. I leave him out of the Gospel writer equation and then I feel terrible amounts of guilt for forgetting him. I wonder if he was a middle child.
Anyway, I stumbled upon this little number last night from Mark 6:47–52:
“Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and [Jesus] was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.
“Immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened” (Italics added.)
This event took place less than 24 hours after Jesus took five loaves and a few fish and created a meal that satisfied thousands. You’d think that at this point, the disciples would be looking at Jesus and thinking, This man can do anything. We’re good to go. Instead, they somehow managed to forget about his recent miracle, and found themselves stunned and terrified by his ability to walk on water and calm the storms.
Their hearts were hardened toward his power and greatness, and these hardened hearts kept them from understanding the truth that God’s power rests on those who put their faith in him. Jesus was constantly re-teaching his disciples to put their trust in him.
I can sit around and judge the disciples for being complete morons, and I might have a few valid points (Peter, for example, was not the sharpest tool in the shed. Thomas had trust issues). But in reality, the reaction of the disciples to the power of Jesus Christ acts as a mirror into my own doubting, blinded soul.
I’ve had countless experiences with God performing miracles in my life. Now, granted, he’s never multiplied my coffee beans or enabled me to ice skate down a waterfall. I still can't fly, which is kind of a bummer. He’s not flashy like that with me. He does things far better, and works where I need him most. He led me to a new job when I was scared of leaving the security of the old one behind. He provides for me when I'm not sure how I am going to make it financially. He’s blessed me with friends and protected me from relationships that would have hurt me. Countless times I’ve seen a blessing that’s put upon my life when I’ve stepped out in faith. I know as I walk through my days that the hand of God is upon my life.
I know all of this, and yet I still find myself afraid. I’m going through some uneasy transitions—at 24 years old and single, I think I’m always going through transitions. There are constant unknowns in my life. Where will I live next year? Who will I live with? Will the price of gas keep going up? Am I doing enough at my job? What will I do if my car breaks down? Are my parents going to keep their health for a long time? Am I ever going to manage to settle down enough to get married? I’m so selfish. How do I even become a person capable of marriage? Am I serving enough? And I serving too little?
And on . . . and on . . . and on.
These are the thoughts that fly through my head on a daily basis and keep me up at night. Last year at this time, I was forced to trust God in a way that drove me to my knees on a daily basis. I saw his providence and was able to begin thanking him for providing for me before he’d actually done so. My entire perspective changed last year, and my faith was strengthened through a power that was not my own, but was the Holy Spirit working on my heart.
But now . . . I find myself having lived comfortably over the past few months. And such comfort leads me to a place of false self-sufficiency. And that self-sufficiency leads me away from relying on God. So here I stand, knowing I need to get back to that place of constant dependence, but annoyed by it in the same way a petulant toddler feels annoyed that he can’t yet walk across the living room floor without the help of his mother.
Doubting in the power of an almighty God is a dangerous game that leads to anxiety and helplessness. It can crush my spirit if I let it. So today, I will fight the good fight. I will to ask God to soften my hardened heart and allow me to see and trust in his ever-perfect ways. I’m going to lift my hands and ask for a little help as I try and take my next step.
I hope you’ll do the same.