Changed Forever

Please pray for Matt and I – life is so busy, and it is good in so many ways, but it can also be hard to keep up and I feel myself wearing thin. I am sick – I missed work but managed to write my midterm tonight – which in a crazy way is good because it forces me to take better care of myself… but it is not good for anything else because I can’t think clearly and have no physical stamina. This is all beside the point.

I was reading my Bible while I waited for the bus to school, and decided to pick up where I left off weeks ago in the book of Mark. I started in chapter 8 and continued into chapter 9, struck by Jesus, not really making sense of what he does or says – I mean, it makes sense in a Sunday School kind of way (it’s in the Bible, so it’s right), but if I imagine these scenes in real life 2000 years ago… no wonder the disciples were confused. In between doing miracles, Jesus tells the Pharisees that they won’t get a sign from him, and he’s always trying to be covert, healing a blind man outside of the city and telling his disciples not to reveal that he was the Christ.

Then I came to the healing of a demon possessed boy in Mark 9:14-29. Jesus is returning with Peter, James and John from his mountaintop Transfiguration, and there is a huge commotion. There is a huge crowd around the disciples, and there are scribes arguing as well – Matt and I were waiting for a bus when there was some crazy argument between a bunch of muslim girls and a group of guys – possibly someone was getting dumped. But from across the station, it just sounded like chaos, voices cackling and arms flinging and two sides facing off but so close together it looked like one small mob… and this story reminds me of that.

Jesus finds out that the disciples were unable to cast a demon out of a boy, and the boys father pleads with Jesus for help. I have the father’s statement in verse 24 highlighted in my Bible: “I believe; help my unbelief!” Because so often that is where I find myself with God.

But today I was struck by Jesus’ words in the next verse: “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” Jesus is tough – he just lays down the law. And the spirit comes out so violently that people think the boy is dead, but Jesus helps him up. I am still confused because Jesus tells the disciples that this type of demon can only be cast out by prayer (but when did Jesus pray? – or was this just a demon that only the Son of God himself could cast out?), but I am encouraged by the permanence of Jesus’ command.

It reminded me of when I really gave my life to God, and I became worried that maybe I was just on a new spiritual high that would fade like all the other times, and I would just continue life on a merry-go-round of faith, sometimes up sometimes down, never really getting anywhere. Jude 24 was a huge encouragement at that time, but I also believe that this story speaks to the part of me that is afraid of spiritual intimacy and spiritual growth – that those things are just setups for a future letdown. A friend of mine once encouraged me that what God does never comes undone – that when I’m covering ground for the third, fourth, fifth time, God is doing new things in me, even when it feels like I’m just at the same place. That is important to me when it comes to my habitual failures of selfishness and fear… and I think the reason I have to keep coming back to fight the same lies in my heart is because if Jesus just blasted them out of me, it might leave me looking like a dead person. So we take things step by step.

Patience

There are two sisters who live on our floor who are believers. Many times when Matt and I have chatted with them, they always manage to insert “Jesus is coming soon” into the conversation.

This I believe, but I don’t say it much, especially like “Yes, I’m coming home from work right now. Jesus is coming!” but this morning, I decided to go for it. Matt and I took the elevator down with them on our way to church and we were talking about how great the weather is this weekend. One sister said, “but the time is coming. Winter.” And I said, “I hope Jesus comes back first – I will tell him in my prayers – Lord, please come back, maybe Tuesday.”

This woman looked me in the face and said, “You are selfish. More people need to know Jesus – he is being patient.”

Oh. Right.

So I got busted. If I have any charismatic tendencies, I struggle to take them seriously.

Matt and I talked about it as we walked to church, and we agreed that we liked me being chastised (it’s Biblical!). It is better for us to remember that God is being patient than to just be depressed that Jesus isn’t back yet and we have bills and snow coming.

Who God Is


In Bible study (at Chazown!!) this week we talked about Moses and how desperately he tried to get out of God’s call on his life. One of his excuses was that he didn’t know enough about God to tell the Israelites about him. I was struck by God’s response – he tells Moses his name (I AM) but also explains who he is – a God of action: God who is sending Moses to his people, God who was with their ancestors, and God who will be remembered through all generations.

God assures Moses that he is not confounded by the Israelites’ slavery – he was with Jacob when he brought his family to Egypt generations before – and he will be the God remembered by the children of Israel, not the gods of Egypt.

Jesus’ life was not the only time that Yahweh stepped into human history – as he taught Moses in the wilderness near Horeb: he IS. He exists beyond creation, but he desires to be known through creation – through his people and by his people.