What did the disciples try to do under their own strength?
Sail across a lake in a storm... cast a demon from a boy... walk on water... understand Jesus' teachings...
Probably a better question would be what did they not try to do under their own strength.
Jesus made it very clear when He called them little-faiths: ὀλιγόπιστος oligopistos (ol-ig-op'-is-tos) From G3641 and G4102; incredulous, that is, lacking confidence (in Christ): - of little faith.
We smile and shake our heads and say, 'How could they not have faith?' Jesus spoke and the storm calmed, He reached out and plucked Peter from sinking in the water, He cast out the demon from the boy and the boy was well ever after that, He fed the 5,000 and the 4,000 with baskets of food left over. When God shows Himself in that glory, how could anyone not have faith?
I sit in a chair and know it will keep me from falling on the floor. I turn the key in the ignition of my car and expect it to start the engine, and for it to take me where I need to go. I don't have quite as much faith in my computer as it has failed me more often than my car.
There is the key. My car, actually, has never failed me... the one I have now. Other cars failed me and one in particular I never had faith it would start. I'd always pray and hope it would start.
God has never failed me.
Why is it then, I sometimes have doubts? Is it my point of reference?
People have failed me... even the ones that I never expected much from, failed me. It isn't their fault because they are human, with human natures that are imperfect. We do not have the capability to be perfect within our flesh. That is impossible. God, on the other hand, is perfect and infallable.
But... we gauge God through our human-ness. We think with our finite minds and see with our imperfect vision and this is how we see God, forgetting that we are made in God's image (not the other way around) and not in His perfect nature and character. We have the potential and we will be perfect one day, just not today. We are assured of this in 1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
Therefore, we cannot see all that God sees or know all that God knows and that makes for a very imperfect understanding of our own situations and future. It also makes for a very imperfect, and perhaps quite wobbly faith.
Here is the tricky part. God is okay with the wobbly faith up to a point. There comes a time when God expects trust no matter the cost, and trusting Him can be quite costly from a secular world point of view. Yet, it is our weakness that glorifies His strength. Our trust magnifies His name. Our frailties in concert with God's power makes the angels wonder.
God has never failed me. I have to go with what I know, regardless of the feelings of doubt, because those feelings are so fleeting. So, I put my hand in the hand of the Man that stilled the water* because He kept His promises no matter the cost. How, indeed, can my faith falter?
*Song writer, Gene Mac Lellan Put Your Hand in the Hand lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
This column was previously published January 13,2008.
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"Point of Reference" from