Friday, May 19, 2017

Handling Snakes and Moving Mountains

Today I was writing out a donation check.  The problem is that I’m having a hard time believing in the possibility of any good thing happening through my puny gift. 

My paycheck was small this week, almost embarrassingly so.  I work as an assistant to my son Caleb, helping him with his business.  He pays me 10% of what he earns each week.  That is our agreed upon arrangement.

Week to week his paycheck fluctuates.  Since this was a low income week for him, my pay amount was less than usual, too.

Yet, I write this check using my pitifully small amount of faith and address it to some far away organization.  Someone there will then distribute it somehow in an even farther away country.

I’m thinking about belief.  About faith.  Sometimes believing is easy; others it’s darn near impossible.

But faith – that seems to be the stuff that pleases Jesus.  Believing in what we don’t see at the moment.  Believing in His goodness and His ability to pull off miraculous things – things way beyond our ability to imagine.

A few days ago I was mindlessly scrolling down my Facebook feed, reading all sorts of updates and articles from who knows where.  I came across two interesting stories, one right after the other, and they’ve got me pondering on this belief/faith thing.

In the first article, an Australian man reported an incident of concern, including a photo of his experience.  He had gone out walking on his property one morning.  Seeing a stick in the walkway, he instinctively reached down to remove it from the path.  At the last moment he recoiled in horror as he realized the “stick” was a long, venomous snake.   The gentleman was not harmed, just shook up.   Upset enough, in fact, that he had to share his adventure with the entire Facebook world.

Frankly, I don’t even know why this story was Facebook-worthy.  I traveled to Australia in 2004, very aware of some of the alarming nature-oriented statistics before I went there.  As I hiked through some of the forests and other areas where dangerous creatures are known to exist, my senses were on hyper-alert.

Australia is home to 5700 different animal species.  Eighty percent of those are found nowhere else in the world.

Scientists are sure there are 100,000 different insect species in Australia, but think that there may be actually as many as twice that number. 

Odds are good that if you are bitten it will be fatal, because Australia has more creatures that can kill you than anywhere else on the planet. 

Ten of the world’s deadliest snakes live there, and all five of the other most lethal creatures in the world are located in the northeast state of Queensland.  There you may come across the Inland Taipan (the most venomous land snake on the planet), the Belcher’s Sea Snake (100 times more toxic than the Taipan), the Cone Snail, the Box Jellyfish, and the Blue-Ringed Octopus.

Therefore, I had no trouble believing an Australian man would find a snake in his yard.  It’s almost a given.  Watch your step.  Be careful.  They’re there.  Somewhere.  Sometimes. 

My belief came easily.  Faith one might find a snake in an Australian yard?  Yes, I have that. 

Then I read the Facebook article that immediately followed the Australian report.  In this article, a Christian missionary woman was reporting about a recent crusade in some other land.  She recalled that many people heard the preaching and responded by deciding to follow Jesus for the rest of their lives.

Many people at the crusade gathered for healing prayer also, and this missionary prayed for a girl who had been deaf and mute.  The girl was fully healed, and following her obvious return to full health, she pledged her life to Jesus.

My belief came with a little more difficulty.  I do have faith that God heals, but I just don’t usually witness such dramatic, instantaneous healings first-hand.  I usually hear of them or read about them happening elsewhere, in other countries.  It’s a little harder for me to believe this type of healing will occur when I pray, then that a person will gradually be healed (yes, by God) while taking a dose of antibiotics.

I want to believe.  I really do.  I have faith that Jesus can do the same sorts of miracles today that I read about in the Bible.  I do. 


This morning I read this:  “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”  (Luke 17:6)

As I ponder on those words Jesus spoke to his disciples, I try to see into my faith-o-meter.  It’s reading zero on a scale of one to one hundred.  If I’m truly honest, I cannot in any way, shape, or form imagine praying for the movement of a mulberry tree from one place to another, and actually seeing it happen.  Or a mountain, either, as Jesus has said in other references.

Maybe the key here is size.  Jesus talks about the size of a mustard seed, which is nearly invisible (and probably so with my bad eyesight!)  I only need a teeny, tiny amount of faith, and I need to be willing to tiptoe out on that scrawny limb of it even before I’m sure it won’t break.

Maybe the other thing here to remember is that He is the One who does the stuff, not me.  I know I am nothing.   I have no special powers to heal humans, move trees, or rearrange topography.  Heck, I can barely carry a full laundry basket up to the second floor.

Maybe my best plan of action is to imitate the apostles.  Right before Jesus talked about mustard seed sized faith, they exclaimed, “Increase our faith!”  (Luke 17:5)  I can ask for an increase, too.

Maybe what I really just want to do is throw myself into His arms and say, “I don’t understand, my Lord.  I don’t have a great pile of faith.  I don’t know how stuff works and how You do what You do.  I want to see miracles, but I want You more.  I trust You.  I believe You.  You are my Jesus, my Lord, and I will follow You wherever and however, as long as I have life on this earth.  Miracles or not, You are worthy of every breath of the rest of my life.  You are with me and that is all I want and need.”