Mediocre Faith

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” ~Matthew 17:20

I’ve really struggled to find something to say for my devotion this week. Usually, I can think of a story to share or something I read or something that has been on my mind lately, but this week the muse has stayed quiet. As I sat down tonight to write this piece, I just couldn’t make anything work.

I’ll write about overcoming fears, I thought, that’s always a relatable topic. Or maybe I should tackle the topics of forgiveness and redemption: I haven’t written much on those lately. Or I could talk about God’s love, I told myself, that seems to be a good catch all devotion topic. I also considered, 

But none of those topics really spoke to me.

So I turned to some of my favorite books. I re-read some of the dog-eared pages I’ve highlighted and saved from some of my favorite religious authors. I practically have some of them memorized, but today they didn’t speak to me either. So I cracked open my bible and started thumbing through some of my favorite stories. I love that feeling when you read something in the Bible that just grabs your heart and gives you goose-bumps. But, as I read them today, I didn’t feel anything. In fact, they felt like empty words.

One of the stories I read through was in Luke 7. In this story, Jesus has just finished preaching and has “entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant…was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him…So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: ‘Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof…But say the word, and my servant will be healed.’ When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.’”

Maybe this is a rude question…or maybe I am a terrible person for asking it…but what if I don’t have great faith? What if my faith doesn’t move mountains? I have the kind of faith where sometimes…I just don’t feel it?
I got confirmed almost 10 years ago. What’s funny as I look back over those 10 years, I’m not sure I’ve figured anything out in that time. I still don’t know why bad things happen to good people. I watch the news and I am still just as fearful for our world as ever. I don’t understand forgiveness or redemption any better now than I did as a teenager. Unconditional love seems just as confusing at 21 as it was at 11.

Does that make me a bad person? I mean when you believe it, aren’t you’re supposed to just get it? We’re supposed to live without fear, and forgive our neighbor, and accept the unconditional love of God and be fulfilled, right? Because all of that—especially as I’m getting older—seems really, really hard. More times than not, I let fear control me. On a regular basis, I make decisions out of anger instead of understanding. There are some days, I don’t feel that loveable. I certainly don’t live as if it’s all true.

But maybe that’s the point. As I look back through these devotionals and re-read some of my favorite verses, I’m seeing that that is what it’s all about. The bible is filled with stories of people who didn’t get it. There are people who saw Jesus conquer death, and they still lived in fear. There are people who saw perfect love, and still chose revenge over forgiveness. There are people who were physically in the presence and surrounded by the love of God, and they were tempted to go looking for more.

Maybe life’s not about having something to say; maybe it’s about listening to the story. And maybe faith isn’t an absence of doubt or a control over fear; maybe faith is a willingness to be open to the next chapter of your story.

Zach Herzog

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