My church is doing a sermon series called 21 days of prayer right now, and the pastor is like – whatever big thing you have on your heart – whether it be your marriage, or finances, a move, a job, your children, pray for that one thing – and I’m like – what about all the things? I need help in every avenue God. So my prayer for these 21 days is the same prayer I’ve had for the last few months – God, give me clarity and faith. And mainly faith. I never have enough faith. Which is why my mind flits back and forth with doubt and indecision about all the things, never finding peace or feeling secure. And I know, that if I just had faith, the size of a mustard seed, I would trust and feel peace, right?
This is part of what I feel like I’m missing, and I think I got a part of it today. I love it when I finally get a part (a little answer to my prayer for clarity I guess).
I feel like there’s a mystery across the spectrum of human experience that I just don’t understand. And that mystery opens up in places like Haywood Street Congregation, where there are a lot of people suffering from intense poverty, and in places like Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville, where people congregate that are generally just thought of as crazy – whether mentally ill or high or both.
And as I’ve been trying to grow and test my faith, give everything to God like the Bible instructs, and trust him as a kind and generous Father, I find myself in negotiations, especially when it comes to big stuff. Like – God I trust you completely with my future, I know your plans are good, Thy will be done – then ten seconds later I’m racking my brain whether to reinvest my 401k into real estate, and trying to figure out if I should remarry or stay single and what would be best for my daughter.These things feel too big and too important to trust an invisible God with. What if everything goes sideways and I look like a fool because I ‘Let Go and Let God’ instead of doing things the right way?
Then I realized – it was because these things were so ‘big and important’ that I couldn’t let go. In the moments when I’ve felt like I lost everything, when I had nothing to lose, then I easily fell on my knees and prayed to God to save me. Suddenly, a verse that had always eluded me made tangible sense:
Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.Matthew 19:24
It is harder to have faith when you feel like you’ve done something for yourself and are in control – you’ve made the money, you’ve gotten that relationship, raised those kids, worked hard to build your life. That illusion of control, wealth, power, creates a distance that is hard to breach, and, as many know, leaves a hole in your soul because you know there’s something else.
Why do I need faith? What am I even searching for? I don’t know. I’ve tried to live without it and it’s pursuing me. I tried to live without it, playing lip service but not truly handing everything over and that didn’t work out either. Maybe the human experience is painful, and we’re all lost and trying to make our way, but I feel like there’s something more than that. And as I pursue faith and learn more and more, getting closer to a God who is both elusive and nearer than my breath, I finally feel like I am on the right path.