I approached the seminary season with great hopes of having all of my questions answered. I ask a lot of questions…so much so that my husband calls me “The Riddler.” Much to my surprise, my questions would birth new questions, deeper questions…questions that have left me feeling as if the very foundation I am standing on is weak. Instead of the newfound confidence I craved, both for myself and for my ministry to others, I have been left with newfound insecurities. I feel like my marriage to Jesus has somehow reverted back to the awkward dating phase, “So…Jesus, tell me about your family. Your favorite color. How you grew up…” It is a bit frightening and I am left vulnerable; vulnerable to answers that I don’t expect, vulnerable to being wrong about something I was so confident in before…vulnerable.
Yet, how would Jesus define my foundation? Would he define it was “thinking rightly” about him? In the same way, how does my husband define the foundation of our marriage? Is it defined as knowing everything about him? Is there room to “rethink” things I thought I knew about him that end up being wrong?
In Matthew 7, Jesus speaks about our foundation, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like the foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
The variable in this story is the one who either does or does not do the words that he/she hears. Each one hears, yet the emphasis is not on “hearing rightly,” the emphasis is on the doing. I would argue that right hearing leads to right action, and is very important. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t subject myself to a grueling 3 year intensive study of the Scriptures. However, for the sake of today, Jesus equates the one possesses a strong foundation with the one that does the things that he/she hears.
If I equate my foundation with “right thinking,” I am certainly on shaky ground. This perceived vulnerability has led to a wall in my relationship with Jesus – “If I can’t be sure about you, Jesus, then why should I come to you at all? Why should I trust you, if I don’t even know if I’m trusting who you really are?” The one person I can rely on and put full trust in has made me with limitations in my knowledge. As a result, certain parts of him are veiled, beyond my reach. He has chosen to reveal himself in time to humans made from the dust, rather than in one moment of full clarity.
The reality is, my foundation in marriage and in relationship to Jesus is seen most clearly in covenant actions – first and foremost, actions or vows made on my behalf. The very foundation of Christianity is on the actions of God in history. Jesus not only “thought rightly” about me, but he chose certain actions: humbling himself and taking on the form of human flesh, resisting temptations and dying on my behalf. He certainly thought well, yet earned his “well done, good and faithful servant…not, “good argument” or “good analytics!,” but “well done” on the basis of his actions. Because he obeyed the greatest commandment to love God and love neighbor, he stood strong against the most destructive of storms: betrayal, shame and even death itself.
With Jesus as both my foundation and example of true humanity, I build on the foundation of love with which he loved me. Even in my wrong thinking, he loves me, and beckons me come. And because he loves me, I know love and am free to love. He is more concerned about my building on his unshakeable foundation of love – trusting him in the things I do see of him and loving my neighbor in the ways I ought – than my abstaining from love because I don’t fully know and can’t fully see. He waits for me to come, to hear, and to respond.
David will post a medical update soon, but the gist of it is that we are still wading through the unknown. In the midst of the murky unknown, I have discovered (or rather, a gracious hand has exposed) an insatiable thirst in my heart for understanding. Understanding leaves me with some faint hope that there is something I can do to make things right. If we found out David had cancer, we could put him on chemotherapy. If we found out he had food allergies, we could avoid those foods. I want control. I am grasping for it. In my estimation, the season for trial has run its course. Thanks for the ride, its been fun, I have been sanctified, yadda yadda yadda…let’s move on to sunnier skies.
As a result, I have uncovered anger in my heart. Since my wisdom reigns supreme, I feel like injustice is being done. The thoughts flood in: “Why us?” “What good is coming from this?” I am hesitant to come to Jesus, out of fear that He will continue to disappoint me. His reluctance to heal or give any semblance of understanding stings of neglect. I feel like the forgotten child, crying out for her Father’s intervention, and He has noise-cancelling headphones on. He sees me, but he can’t hear me. As a result, I would rather go my own way and figure this out on my own than risk being hurt by the only One that is not supposed to disappoint me.
That, my friends, is an ugly heart. A heart of unbelief. A heart that is tempted to give up and take things into my own hands.
One of my favorite things that Paul Tripp said in my parenting class was:
“Ultimately, human rest is not found in understanding. It is found in trust of the person who can give understanding. There are times when children do not have the capacity to understand; in those times, the father simply asks the child to trust him.”
If I believed the Father’s character, I would not need understanding. I would trust Him.
So, I begin to repeat the list that has rotated through my head many times before.
He hears my cries. He has been in these shoes. He is faithful. He is wise. He is all powerful. His mercies are new every morning. The manna of His Word is sufficient. He is satisfying.
And so, I cry out, with the heartfelt emotion of the father who wants for his child to be healed by Jesus: “I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) I want to believe Jesus when He says that “All things are possible for the one who believes.” (Mark 9:23) All things! All things, including healing, yes, but more than that, trusting in the One who can heal, but chooses not to. Trusting that He is good, despite what the world will tell you.
Romans 8: 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”