Love forgives the unforgivable (pt4)

by Craig on May 19, 2011

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With those tears in my eyes, and the eyes alternately aimed at my feet, or up to God, or closed – with my mind pensive and battling, I grumbled:

“It’s impossible. You know I can’t let this go. You know what he’s done. You know, like nobody else – NOBODY – how messed up I am. I can hide it. I can pretend that I’m not. You do know? Right? You can see. Right?”

For anyone missing the beginning of this, and for this to make sense the beginning is kinda needed, yesterday’s post is a good starting point.

I had honest doubts…

I was new to the faith…

And some things can’t happen without faith.

I think forgiving the unforgivable is one of those.

My questions were honest ones because, what I know now by experience, I could only guess at then. We forget as we grow in faith, and see the author of our faith work in our lives again and again, what it’s like not to have those experiences.

Up to this point, any faith I had was borrowed faith.

Borrowed faith…
is not the kind of faith…
that can do the impossible.

So before forgiveness could even be addressed, my faith needed bolstering.

I think now of when you were here, Lord, during your ministry, and a confused and desperate crowd dragged an out-of-control and demon possessed boy to your feet and begged you for help…

To the father of the boy,
who doubted that you were able,
who wasn’t sure if you could,
the one who said “…if you can…”

I think you, Lord, before you answered, lowered your head and smiled at the uncertainty.

The ones in a boat with you, afraid that you would allow them all to drown in a storm…those you called, “of little faith”. I think you were truly disappointed in them because they had seen enough to believe and yet they persisted in their doubt.

I think you heart honest doubt in people who want to know you. It’s the chronic and persistent doubt that is committed to the questioning, and resistant to the answers – it’s that doubt that you have little use for.

This man who brought you his child, he had, no doubt, heard that you could perform miracles (the impossible) – I do doubt that he had seen them.

What faith he had, was borrowed.

So the dropping of your head, and a smile? I can see it as done in the understanding of how difficult faith can be to come by.

And amid the tumult of a crowd of men barely able to control a raging boy possessed by many demons…

And with the ones “of little faith”, your 12, watching with their “little faith” eyes, I think you just repeated the words of the man…

Maybe just muttering to yourself, knowing the absurdity of the statement, “If. You. Can.”

And with the faith of the one in front of you wanting to grow…

And with the faith of those behind you refusing to grow…

You continued, “Everything is possible to the one who has faith.”

And then. came. this…

source

“I do believe, help my unbelief!”

I think, once again the corners of your lips curled upward and you looked at the man with compassion, and maybe behind you with a glance that would say without words, “See. This – is honest doubt.”

Then I think simply, and quietly, and nonchalantly, you said the words, “Mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again.”

Jesus didn’t need to raise his voice to command demons.

As I sat there in the service, tears streaming, battling emotions, talking with the author of faith…

He was growing my faith…

So the impossible could be done…

because forgiveness…

which issues from love…

is spurred on by faith.

Baby steps were needed…

for a baby Christian…

faced with an impossible task.

There is more…

please come back.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Dawn May 19, 2011 at 10:09 am

Dear Craig,

I really would like you to get to the “how did you” part of this story, but, it seems, you just can’t do it.
So today, my favorite part, while waiting for the ending, AGAIN, was

My questions were honest ones because, what I know now by experience, I could only guess at then. We forget as we grow in faith, and see the author of our faith work in our lives again and again, what it’s like not to have those experiences.

I am so reminded by these sentences of my first year of teaching nursing. I thought I was asking the easiest questions imaginable on my tests and students were missing them. Finally, I sat down and really analyzed the problem. The problem was me. I was expecting students to intuit answers that could only be easy for them if they had been a practicing nurse for many years. I was not breaking up the concepts into “little, lovable, bite-sized pieces” so they could digest them. I had forgotten what it had been like not to have my experience.

So now it hits me (aha) perhaps that is why this story is so frustratingly long for me. You are giving it in those wonderfully digestable bite-sized pieces and I’m a fast eater!

I thank God for your patience,
Dawn

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Craig May 19, 2011 at 11:36 am

Dawn, think YOU for being patient :-) it is a story that’s a little but rich with details – a little more nuanced than I originally thought. It wasn’t just a magical wand waved by God. In all my years of knowing him I’ve found that he builds rather than performing magic. Everybody, me included, prefers the magic. I’m not usually patient enough for the building. But that’s the way he is, so that’s the way I’ll take it. I’m not simplifying it for anybody :-) thank you for using my tagline, though. :-) I kind of just don’t want to rush through how I was able to forgive the unforgivable – I don’t want to skip anything. So I thank God for YOUR patience – and God bless and keep you as always.

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A. May 19, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Baby steps…sometimes I need to remember to be patient with myself when I am learning a new thing-especially spiritual or behavioral things. I get impatient. I am glad you are being patient here though like Dawn I can tend to want to speed read, also.

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Craig May 19, 2011 at 6:45 pm

A., Once, early in my Christianity and those struggling with the feeling that I wasn’t cutting it, and that my growth was to slow,that my obedience wasn’t good enough, I got one of those very clear impressions – the kind that when you get them you say God “told me”. And what he told me was “be as patient with yourself as I am with you”. I think he’d tell you the same. God bless you A.

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Michelle May 20, 2011 at 5:36 am

“I do believe, help my unbelief.” I think that is one of my (many) favourite parts of the Word. Well, not so much favourite, as it really hits the spot. So often we think we know or have the faith, but with a bit of thinking or time we realise we don’t. So, for me, it is a reminder that I may have faith, but there may be a little doubt or unbelief there as well.

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Craig May 20, 2011 at 2:10 pm

You would think that a guy who struggled with doubt for more than 20 years of my faith – doubt that God even existed – graduating seminary still without doubt in my head – you would think I would’ve read and understood and claimed this verse from the start. But for years I just didn’t get it. I when it kicked in I knew it was MY verse.And none of us has perfect faith. If even one of us on this planet had perfect faith there would be mountains flying into seas everywhere. Sad but true – but it really is “me” and “we” of little faith. But he loves us anyway – bless his heart. Thank you Michelle – and God bless and keep you and all of yours today.

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Anna May 20, 2011 at 11:00 pm

I found this really freeing “I think you heart honest doubt in people who want to know you.” Thank you for that– it clarifies that issue a good bit for me– sheds light on that question… because I think sometimes when we have doubts there is a lot of guilt… but this helps me, and helps me to know how to help others in seasons of doubt, too.

Also this from your comment above: “If even one of us on this planet had perfect faith there would be mountains flying into seas everywhere.” Yes– you are right! But I’m wondering why. Why is our faith so little? And this question– does our faith have to be perfect for this to happen? Is it because of faith not being perfect, that’s why mountains don’t move? I mean, is it just up to my faith for mountains to move… because all I need is just a little bit, like a mustard seed? (I mean, of course, I desire my faith to grow… but scripture says even faith that tiny can move the mountain). I just read the other day about Joshua– when the sun stood still. Joshua boldly asks, and he gets it answered, in a big way. Are we not asking boldly enough? Is our faith not practiced? Why is my/our faith so little? I realize we are imperfect, hence we have imperfect faith… I’m just wondering out loud. Yes, he does love us with our little faith (oh so thankful for that, and for grace!) But, why? Why are we of little faith? It doesn’t make sense to me– I’m trying to grasp this… we have the Holy Spirit, with us, the comforter, at all times. What is missing? Why aren’t mountains moved? If I believe it can happen… why doesn’t it? Shouldn’t it? (I realize this isn’t the focus of your current blog– and I’m greatly interested in the topic of forgiveness, too….)
I’m following along these posts… so interested, and relevant, and a great dialogue/ discussion… now, moving onto the next part of your story. Thank you, for sharing all of this. Thankful for your healing. I’m “hearting” all of this!
God bless.

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Craig May 21, 2011 at 6:45 am

I wrote a ton about doubt and faith on the other blog – it’s got its own “category” in the sidebar. The two things about doubt that I’ve read or heard that have been cornerstones of my faith, I hope you don’t mind if I share them with you. One, a quote from Robert Schuler that I heard at the beginning of my faith when it was mostly doubt with faith edging in, “where proof is possible faith is impossible”. I hearted that – still do.

The second is what I found in the little Jewish prayer book once, “doubt is the handmaiden of truth, the touchstone of faith”. The really good news is – that doubt examined leads to stronger faith. I know this to be true because – and although I always want to be careful when I make a statement like this – the faith I have now – it’s just about unshakable. And I don’t say that with anything other than a humble and thankful heart – trust me there was a time in my Christian life when it would have been said with a puffed up and proud heart.

I really hearted your comment – a lot! The quick answer is that it’s a broken world – we broke the universe with sin. There are so many things in this world especially this modern world where we put ourselves – humans – at the top, as the center of everything. and then the ones who don’t believe they put the universe as the center of everything – and neither one is.There is just so much between us and the one who created us – I think it makes it harder for us to believe that it may have been for Joshua. Remember, Joshua witnessed great, awesome, mighty miracles – waters parting, walls tumbling. And not believing in a God and Joshua’s time wasn’t an option. In our day it is. In that day everybody believed in a God – some God. So I’m not quite so tough on us with our doubt – maybe doubt, like romance being a tiny little division of love – doubt is a tiny little division of faith.I think if you go over and read through the doubt and faith section on deep into Scripture sometime – I think you’ll heart it. And finally I heart that you used heart as a verb – I heart that! God bless you and keep you and all of yours this day.

PS I heart your comment so much I think that there may be a post coming based upon it and my response if that’s okay with you.may be, “love understands the doubt is a tiny little division of faith”. God bless.

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Anna May 21, 2011 at 9:49 am

“Doubt is a tiny little division of faith”. That is wonderful. I think it would be a great post. It reminds of some of the paradoxes of scripture… like how by dying we live, how by giving we receive. Thank you– I hadn’t seen the doubt as a little part of faith!
(But I’m still pondering the faith question…hmmm. I’m still thinking of those mountains.) Thanks, brother!

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Craig May 21, 2011 at 10:39 am

oh, and just to clarify Anna, the mountains I was talking about were literal mountains being thrown into literal sees. The symbolic mountains, the tough situations, the big things in life we needed to deal with or to move? Those – those we can still move even though we don’t have the faith of a mustard seed. Just want to be clear. And I just finished a prayer for you to have the faith it takes to either move around your mountain, or through it, or over it – or have God remove it for you. God bless and keep you and all of yours.

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