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I have blundered around with this idea of Jesus coming to rescue us from our weakness for more than a week now. I have had deep and moving thoughts (at least in my secret thought life people would think they were deep and moving) about our weak confidence and faith. My hope in Jesus ability, power, intentions, and fulfillment oscillates more than a sine graph. I go through great weeks of faith, prayer, dependence on the Spirit, hope for others to find the cross as meaningful, experiences of physical healing, and then, the next week I am the same blundering idiot who gets angry because somebody didn't listen to me, basing my self-worth and value on my own abilities and importance.
My humility is fleeting and all I can really say is the same thing the boy's father said in Mark 9:24, "I do believe, Lord help my unbelief." Fewer words spoken were descriptive of the pattern of my faith. In one moment I am anchored in the reality of the miraculous rescue of my rebellious soul and the value given me by the Love of a sacrificial savior and then the next moment I am off like Walter Mitty1 with my own self-made greatness.
I was preaching at some point this last year, not sure on what but I made the statement while preaching that faith is believing Jesus is who he said he was and is going to do what he said he will do. I stole it from somebody, not sure who, but I do firmly believe it. This is the substance of our faith. A friend, Ed Hart, came up to me and wanted to change what I said, or alter it or add to it. I am not sure. Anyway, his claim to me was this; faith is believing that Jesus is more faithful to us than we are to him.
Either Jesus is going to rescue me because He is good or I am in trouble. Either Jesus' love has to be better than mine or I am not going to ever change. Either Jesus' confidence in the fulfillment of His plan is more lasting than mine or, we will all ditch the plan. Either Jesus is more faithful to us or we would all be lost.
And here is God's answer to my fleeting faith, to the lie in the garden, to my inability to hold onto the humility that reality gives; he left all heaven and glory, the right hand of God, the throne surrounded by angels and beauty and became a defenseless baby put into a feeding trough for animals, in order to live a life of faith that we couldn't, in order to demonstrate his never ending, never giving up, never stopping love...in order to show his faith to us is so great he would endure the cross and die in our place in order to rescue us.
I can rest assured, his commitment to us is far greater than ours. He came to rescue us from our weakness, to be strength where we had none, to instill confidence when ours wanes and to ultimately live, die, and rise from the dead in order to reverse the effects of the first weakness of Adam and Eve. God made himself weak in order to redeem us from our ever prevailing weakness.
Christmas is celebrating how faithful Jesus was, to be made weak on our behalf because in the end, I am about as strong as that baby was. But in the end, He wins. And along the way, He remains faithful to His children.
Some advent reading from Psalms 103,
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that y our youth is renewed like the eagles.
1. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (1939) by James Thurber is very descriptive of my battle with a fake reality in my head. It is a short story worth reading and identifying with.