You lay on the couch, house degrading into dirtiness around you, trying to find things that occupy your mind but don’t overtax your body. When you’re not sleeping, that is.
The one thing I can do, is read. But only in little snippets, and not well. My comprehension is low. So is my writing ability, so I apologize now if this post sounds like it was written by a monkey with a typewriter.
I guess the upside is that being able to read only for a few minutes before my eyes won’t focus anymore, leaves a lot of time to ponder what I’ve read.
This past week, I read the story about Jesus asking two blind men, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” before he healed them. That got me wondering how I would have answered.
Before I tell you what I came up with, go ahead and ask yourself that question. How would you answer if God himself asked if you thought he could perform your most prayed for miracle?
I know, without a doubt, that I would have answered negatively.
Pfft! I doubt it. But go ahead and try. It would be awesome if it turned out that you could.
It made me think of another twenty year old story. This one happened a couple of years before this post about quitting mountain bike racing.
This is the story of me quitting my massage therapy program.
At twenty one, I had followed a friend into an intense, 18 month programme to become a Registered Massage Therapist. After a couple of years not knowing what, exactly, I was going to do, this seemed like a solid plan.
I was loving learning about the language and science of the body systems that are affected by massage; leading study groups, spending three hours a night reviewing the day’s lessons and generally aceing the course.
Except for one thing.
I was pulling high nineties in every class, except for practical massage. You know, the class where we actually learned to massage people?
Seventy five percent was all I could muster in the actual, hands-on part of the programme. But no matter. I forged ahead. I was going to be the best massage therapist out there.
I should note that, at the time, I already believed there was an all-powerful God but had no knowledge of him beyond the fact that he existed and could work in our lives.
Anyway, the course started in August. It was now early December and things were still going well. I thought nothing of it when, one Monday morning, I woke up with a swollen finger on my left hand.
By Wednesday, though, I couldn’t operate the brake on my bicycle and almost ran a red light. I started to worry. Two weeks later, I was convinced that divine intervention was at work; I was completely incapacitated with Arthritis.
By completely incapacitated, I mean:
- I could barely dress myself
- I had to sit down and ‘bum’ my way down the stairs because of pain in my feet
- It took both hands to open the fridge
- And both hands to pick up a one litre carton of milk.
The specialist that I was rushed in to see said that I should expect to be in a wheelchair by the time I was thirty.
As I considered my situation, I began thinking of my low grades in practical massage and my lackluster enthusiasm for that class as The Little Hammer.
Obviously, God doesn’t want me being a massage therapist, I thought. I figured that because I hadn’t paid attention to the subtle signs that I was in the wrong spot, God had brought down The Big Hammer: arthritis.
These days, I don’t believe God really works that way but that’s not the point . What’s significant is that I believed that God could and would afflict me with a debilitating illness; an illness that impacted my life, not unlike the impact that blindness had on the two men that Jesus healed.
“Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
Had Jesus asked me that question about causing my arthritis, I would have answered with a resounding and certain, “Yes!” (He’d already done it. And illness was something that I’d had experience with. I had seen much evidence of illness with my own eyes.)
But, I know myself. Had he asked me if I thought he could miraculously heal my arthritis, my answer would have gone like this:
Not really. But go ahead and try anyway. It would be really awesome if you could.
It took me almost twenty years to realize the… what’s the word? Hypocrisy? Arrogance? Anyway, it took me two decades to realize that this was ridiculous. If I believed that God could cause my body to go right off the rails, practically overnight, how could I ever believe that he couldn’t reverse it, just as easily?
The answer to that is because I had never witnessed him heal illness miraculously. If I was going to believe something, it was because I’d seen it with my own eyes. But seeing with my own eyes is not faith. It’s the opposite of faith. Besides, if I believed my illness really was divine intervention, then hadn’t I seen God’s mighty power in my life?
So I wasn’t really looking for logic. I think I wanted to be right. I made God fit into my belief system, even though it was totally illogical.
So, I’ll ask you again. What would your answer be? What areas are you praying for a miracle but, if Jesus were to ask you if you believed he could deliver it, you’d say No? Where would you say no, even though you’ve seen his power demonstrated in similar ways already?
What the story of the two blind men taught me is that our unbelief blocks the very things we’re praying for from coming to pass. Those two men were healed and Jesus explained why.
“According to your faith let it be done to you.”
And, for the record, the story about my mountain bike racing career came two years after this arthritis experience. Even as medical students were studying my infirmity, I was getting better, much to their amazement.
Now, I don’t take this to mean that if I believe enough in something, I can guarantee it will come to pass. I have wonderful friends who wouldn’t be grieving the loss of beloved family members, if it worked like that. Besides, that’s not even the point.
The point is, what is it about God that you – and I – doubt? I had a belief system that included doubting God.
I thought that he could only move in a miraculously negative way in my life. Why would that be? Is he not good? Doesn’t he know how to fix it? Or is he just not strong enough to do it?
For myself, I know that I have never doubted his power or his wisdom, just his will to do it for my benefit. So I guess him supposedly afflicting me with hardship fit in with that belief. but healing me didn’t.
Regardless, the words aren’t ‘According to your doubt let it be done to you’. So, I guess, I have some faith-building to do.
And, I’m guessing that I’m not alone.