Poet Theodore Roethke once wrote, “Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley” (thank you, MakeItUltra, for reminding of this wonderful quote). This quote is so close to my heart – particularly at this time when I am embarking on a new part of my journey, moving to a new home. It’s funny that only a few weeks ago I was feeling virtually crippled from fear at the thought of having to find a new place to live. So many people from my church and social media, not to mention my coworkers and friends, extended thoughts and prayers my way and I truly felt the love of every one of these people as I sought a new home.
To put all of your minds at ease, yes I have found a new home and yes, it was definitely a “God” thing. It is around the corner from where I grew up so I know the neighborhood well, it is closer to home and to church, and the home owner is a true blessing. Sure, there are things I’m going to have to get used to (sharing the house with people I don’t know, sharing a shower for the first time in 10 years, etc.) but overall, it was clear to me that God has this plan in place and all I had to do was show up to the party.
Of course, as those of you who read my last post can attest, I spent a good deal of time in the valley, unable to see that path up the mountain and honestly, a little unwilling to look for it. I was whining, kicking and screaming about the fact that things were not working out the way I had expected them to; the way I thought would be right. All of the signs I thought I was seeing didn’t point me in the direction I expected them too and I was not pleased.
But that’s the thing about God and His mercy and grace. He knows that those times when we can’t see the path are the times we need a little extra intervention a sign, a reminder of His presence, a voice of reason. Just like the disciple Thomas, we need evidence before we can believe and rather than judge us or condemn us because of it, He provides exactly what we need.
Poor Thomas. As the speaker at my church stated this past Sunday, all he did was come late to the party of Jesus’ return to the disciples after His resurrection and he has been condemned for his lack of faith ever since. This past Sunday, as I heard the story read for umpteenth time, I couldn’t help but shake my head and giggle to myself about how challenging Thomas was. I mean, seriously. How many miracles had he personally witnessed? And how many prophesies had he seen brought to fruition in his time with Christ? Yet, here he was, doubting yet again; struggling with understanding who Jesus really was and what had really happened. Certainly if you or I would have been disciples, we would have gotten it, right?
No, probably not. I venture to say that at least I, if not all of you, would have been as “doubting” as Thomas, if not more. And the thing is, Thomas neither wanted nor was provided anything more than what the other disciples had received from Jesus earlier. John 20:20 clearly states that Jesus showed his hands, feet and sides to the disciples when He appeared to them. The only difference that I can see is that Thomas stated out loud he wouldn’t believe unless he saw the Jesus’ wounds. But since the Lord knows our hearts and minds who’s to say that Jesus showed the other disciples His wounds because their disbelief was just as clear to him because of the looks in their eyes or their mannerisms? Why is it only Thomas who is called out for doubting?
The thing is we are all “Doubting Thomases”. We want to see proof before we actually take that leap of faith; to see that big neon sign in front of us telling us what direction we’re supposed to turn before we actually turn. We want to make sure that we speak exactly the right words in a given prayer to ensure that the outcome we are seeking will come to fruition. Do a quick Google search or walk into any bookstore and you will find listing after listing offering that secret prayer recipe that will virtually ensure God gives you what we want when you want it. We may truly be believers in Christ and God, we fail miserably at acting in faith. Each of us is at one time or another can be found standing in that valley Roethke wrote about and screaming about the path that is supposed to be there, but isn’t. And what makes it even more of a challenge is that even when our prayers have clearly been answered, we (or at least I) tend to fall right back into doubting. Maybe it’s because doubting is easier than taking a stand of faith. If I doubt, I don’t have to worry about those who don’t believe challenging my position on something or worry that they might treat me differently (or, gasp! Not like me) because I believe differently than they do.
Doubting not only leaves the door open just enough to allow us to fall in with everyone else, but it also gives us an out if things don’t pan out the way we anticipated. If I doubt – even a little – and God’s answer takes longer than I want or is different from what I wanted, I can always dismiss that by saying I never believed He was real or that He answers my prayers anyway. In other words, doubt is at its base level, selfish…
… and very, very human.
God fully expects us to doubt. It’s all part of the growing and maturing process that we are here on this planet to do. God’s hope and desire for us is that we will, at some point, be able to see beyond the doubt. I don’t know about you, but I am only able to do that with some things but I do pray that as I continue to mature in my faith, I will be able to be the “blessed who believe without seeing” for more than just one or two things in my life. Until that time, I will rest in the comfort of knowing God will provide whatever I need to believe – even the perfect house at the perfect time.