When I was little, I was afraid to get baptized. I thought there might be sharks in the baptismal pool. Eventually, after watching folks get dunked unscathed, I decided to wade in the water. My body got wet, but my stony heart remained high and dry.
I remember watching The Ten Commandments on Easter Sunday, the night before “Easter Monday” and the kickoff to our “Easter week” vacation from school. I must admit I didn’t understand what the parting of the Red Sea had to do with our wearing fancy dresses, fighting for a seat in church, and eating ham and candied yams after church. I just knew we loved ourselves some Charlton Heston and Anne Baxter and looked forward to having a homework-free week.
When folks told me that Santa rode in a limo and walked through the front door in our part of the country, I swallowed it hook, line, and sleigh. And I continued to cling to the whole down-the-chimney and Rudolph-leading-the-way thing despite our relatively warm winters and not-so-white Christmases until I was twelve years old. Yes, twelve. Looking back, I wonder if I considered Jesus and the Nativity Story just another self-seeking fairy tale to believe in, along the same lines as Santa and his counterpart, the Tooth Fairy. Basically, if I believed in them, they’d give me stuff like money, Barbies, and angel’s wings.
Basically, I was confused. Yet, as confused as I was then, I realize folks are even more confused now about the Who, what, when, where, and how of God. Recently, I turned to an educational show about the mysteries of the Bible. And boy, was I schooled. In this program, “acclaimed” international scholars, theologians, and experts explained away God’s miracles, revealed the “contradictions” behind ancient texts, and proved their theories of who really wrote the “so-called” gospels–all in these authoritative, know-it-all voices. They informed me that the Israelites were merely lost for forty years, that the book of Revelation is just an allegory of ancient Rome’s fall, and that the loving God I serve is actually vengeful and capricious, and is generally out to get me.
For a minute, I perched there on my bed and considered the role these learned folks play in the education of our young people, yours and mine. How might they influence those tender hearts while they’re busy steering their seeking minds? Would my little people grasp the lie and let go of the Truth? I admit, this program shook the mommy in me. It led me to recall what the child in me used to cling to as fact.
But Hubby reassured the believer in me. He reminded me that God knows more than the theologians. He endures. People have been questioning and wondering and scoffing since Eve decided she didn’t like her serving of fruit. He has been raising up His own, thoroughly equipping them for service, providing the armor—offensive and defensive—to guard their minds and hearts in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:17; Ephesians 6:10-20; Philippians 4:7). No one can take away what God gives.
And God gave me my own little people, gray hair, and faith. I know that it didn’t take a shark-infested pool for Jesus to wash my sinful heart clean. When I watch the Angel of Death passing over a bearded Charlton Heston, I celebrate the true risen Christ who offered Himself as my sacrificial Lamb. I give and get a lot of stuff at Christmas, but I know His birth allowed my rebirth. Yet I’m old enough and wise enough to know it’ll take an eternity to fully understand God’s Word, will, and ways. For instance, how do I “pray continuously” about something if I’ve “cast all my cares” on Jesus? Why does a thorn in my side draw me closer to Him—wouldn’t its removal serve the same purpose? He’s overcome the world, but why do my fears often overwhelm me? Did the whales swim alongside the Ark or were they on board in a giant tank?
Do you ever have a crisis of faith? Does the clamor of the world drown out God’s call on your life? That happens to me. Sometimes I get dragged down by the weight of facts and figures. What I see and experience muddies the waters, making it seem impossible to believe in what–Who–I can’t see and it shakes me up. But we should let our doubts stir up greater faith. The Lord clings to us even when we lose our grip. When I’m swimming in tears, I can’t just cry; I need to and do cry out to Him.
Know that merely calling on Jesus when you’re sinking shows your faith in the One Who saves.
“…And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.” Matthew 14:29-32