“Let me come to you Lord!” I scream above the waves.
Jesus doesn’t force me to come, but he allows my desire for him to propel me to leave the ship. He beckons. He invites. I throw my legs over the side and my feet land miraculously on liquid water. I take a step forward, focusing on Jesus, but as lightning strikes, so does fear; and as the thunder roars, Satan threatens. A wave embraces my body and the current tugs my feet underneath the surface, pulling me into the darkness. I engulf my last breath a split second before the noise of the storm is muffled by water’s treacherous laugh, a sound of mockery at my foolish belief in the impossible. My body grows still but I continue to gaze wistfully at the hint of light reflecting on the water’s surface, even while drowning in a sea of lies.
In this world of routine, when nothing ever really seems to change, it’s hard to have faith.
Day after day I find myself walking down the same misshapen sidewalks that guide me in a lovely zig zag toward English 302, passing the same people that glance up long enough from their virtual world to flash me a smile. I have taken a similar walk for the past three years, sometimes walking slow to appreciate the auburn colored leaves, the warm sun breaking through the clouds, or the snowflakes falling gracefully through the cool air. And amid all that time spent walking to different activities and classes, watching the seasons change, I can only hope that prayer is changing things too.
I wish I could that I have the faith of Paul and Peter who ministered in the first century, of Jackie Pullinger who left for Hong Kong with no money to save drug addicts in Hong Kong, of Jim Elliot who was martyred trying to reach a tribe in the Amazon. I wish I can one day be the courageous missionary who believes God can break all language barriers, borders, and obstacles to reach the lost. I want to lay hands on people knowing that God will heal them. I want to share the truth knowing that God is working in their hearts. But instead, my faith seems so wobbly. God says in James that we must ask all things in faith, without doubt; because the man who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. And apparently, the one who doubts should not expect to receive anything from the Lord because they are unstable and doubleminded in all their ways. So maybe I will never receive in full abundance because I lack faith. How can God bless a doubleminded woman like me?
In my Global Literature class this semester, we read this book called Love Medicine. In one chapter, a character, named Lipsha, is pondering what it means to have faith, “I thought how we might have to yell to be heard by Higher Power, but that’s not saying it’s not there. And that is faith for you. It’s belief even when the goods don’t deliver,” (Erdrich 241). Faith means holding on despite the lack of evidence, holding even when the unimaginable happens. And that certainly is not easy, especially then you see someone else get the miracle you thought you deserved. So, the goods deliver for them but not you? And still… that faith, even if its mustard seed small, asks you to keep holding on; because in world where we can never determine the truth with absolute certainty, we are all slaves to some sort of faith or we really aren’t human at all.
When I’m walking to class, it’s easy to look to the sky and gaze past the falling snow and leaves, hoping that God might move the sidewalk today. He would pick the cement off the ground and place it right where I need it and say, “Michelle, this is the way to My Will!” But if He did that, then I wouldn’t need faith, would I? In life, there is something to these crooked sidewalks we stroll down – they are complex and wild, and most of all, they take faith. Anyone can walk in a straight line, but it takes skill to trust an invisible God through a maze. At least, when I think of faith in that way, it helps me to believe in its cause. It helps me believe that trusting is worthwhile.
Even when we are sinking God seems to understand. God promises that he is big enough to help us when we fail. I might be sinking in that sea of lies, staring at the surface desperately, but God will always thrust his hand through the surface, as deep as he can reach to save me from fear. For me, faith might not be a stroll across the water, but a cycle of standing, sinking, and being saved by Jesus again and again. Even if I never walk, Jesus won’t let me drown.