Mark 9:21-24 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!”
I am an encourager, counselor, purveyor of faith. I pray daily and spend time with God’s word most days. I have for nearly 5 years now. I am a lay-leader who speaks into the lives of others; especially men who have found themselves sidelined and silenced in their faith and strangled by the chains of false narratives written long ago.
My church (madeforfellowship.com) had what I call “Confession Sunday” last weekend. The sermon was powerful on the need to confess one-to-another and the pastor shared how in the early church confessions were VERY public.
After his own confession (which I’m guessing may have shocked a few) he passed microphones around the congregation of hundreds who were there in the first service and what transpired was amazing.
Men confessed publicly to addictions & impurity, women confessed to extreme isolation and yet others of gossiping and being judgemental of others. There was not a dry eye in the house as one-by-one people confessed their secret sins which have been feeding the lie that they are un-loveable.
And there I was standing with a microphone in the balchony waiting to be called on thinking “what are you doing George, you can share this in your small groups or with your pastors personally but doing this publicly can undermine your leadership and even hurt the ministry”.
But I stayed standing, and he did call on me.
With a quivering voice and a pounding heart I shared how I lead 3 separate weekly men’s groups going deep into recovery and discipleship principles and yet when I was told that the backhouse I was living in was not properly permitted and that I have only 10-days to move out I found myself angry, resentful, fearful, hopeless, rebellious… in my mind I had become faithless.
Leading up to that moment I had realized just how bitter my heart had turned and for days I had begun to question my entire walk. It’s so cliche to say faith comes easy in the good times… but I was completely surprised by my response to a “serious-yet-easily-covered-by-faith-if-I-had-any”trial.
What I truly expected was the church to say “you should take some time off George, work on that weak faith, it’s not healthy in leadership, I’m sure you understand”. And I would have. I have felt like the biggest hypocrit claiming church leadership on my resume yet nearly overwhelmed with fear and resentment the minute the wind blows.
What I received however were brothers that know me reaching out and asking “how can I help”. A couple guys took me out to lunch that Sunday afternoon to just talk through the issues and brainstorm solutions and pray. Others are volunteering to help me on moving day (tomorrow) and another has even given me a loan to help with the financial challenges this presents.
Even one of the church elders reached out to acknowledge how difficult that must have been and congratulated me on the courage to stand and transaprently confess my fears and frustrations.
I found myself not rejected in my professed weakness but encouraged, loved and supported on a level I wouldn’t have dreamed of.
My prayer life during this season has been painful; Lord you must help my heart – without my permission it has chosen not to trust you. How can I be filled with fear and blame when I know that You have something so much better for me through this life shake-up. Help me Lord walk the walk of faith that I so easily talk about and encourage others to do.
What God has done for me in His INFINITE MERCY was remind me that I’m not the first to wrestle with this.
Matthew 8:25-26a 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”
These are men that walked with Jesus and witnessed His miracles first hand and yet cowered in fear even with Jesus physically in the boat with them.
And as I reflected deeper I realized that:
God knows our trials
Luke 22:31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.
He intercedes for us
Luke 22:32a But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.
He knows beforehand when our fear will cause us to turn away
Luke 22:32 And when you have turned back…
And he reminds of our purpose
Luke 22:32 …strengthen your brothers.”
And yet our pride will still step in and make fools of us
Luke 22:33 33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
Can you imagine Peter’s shame when he realized the depths of his denial… I can.
That is exactly how I feel when I fall into old patterns of lust to medicate fears or when I profess faith and yet become angry and resentful as events beyond my control unfold.
Yet when the resurrected Jesus met Peter He not only fed him breakfast, throughout their entire encounter Jesus never once mentioned Peters blasphemous denial. He instead helped Peter probe his own heart.
John 21:17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep”.