“How many times do I have to tell you…..?” My mother said this to me numerous times in my childhood, and I said it numerous times to my children. Over and over again, parents try to get into their children’s thick sculls some truth that is so simple, yet it seems their kids have the hardest time just grasping it and doing it! It requires much patience on the parents and much hope that one day it will “click” for their children, and they will start doing what was told to them thousands of times over.
This is how Jesus felt with His disciples. He taught them, modeled it for them, came alongside them, and entrusted it to them. And yet, they still just couldn’t trust what He said enough to really step into it. They just didn’t have much faith.
Do we have faith? I’d think we would all like to say, “Absolutely!“, but do we really have faith? Or have we just worked extremely hard to get ourselves in a place so comfortable and controlled that we don’t need to have any faith? There’s a huge difference in the two.
When the disciples were unable to cast the demon from the possessed boy, they asked Jesus why. Jesus relied, “Because you have so little faith.” Then He said that if they just had the faith the size of a mustard seed (smallest seed that yields one of the largest plants), they could tell a mountain to move and it would! I don’t know about you, but I want that kind of faith! So it begs the question: what part of faith is missing in our lives?
The best definition I have heard for faith is by James MacDonald. He said,
“Faith is believing the Word of God and acting on it, no matter how you feel,
because God promises a good result.”
Do I believe God’s Word is true and worthy of obedience? Absolutely. Do I hear clearly the Word of God spoken to me? Sometimes. Do I believe the Word of God enough to respond in obedience to it? I say,”Yes“, but my questioning, rationalizing, etc. would appear to be a strong “No“. Can I be obedient to God’s Word without letting my feelings get in the way? Again, I’d like to say “Yes“, but so often, my feelings muddy the water. Do I believe God promises a good result in my obedience? Absolutely.
If you’ll notice, I bookended this series of questions based on the definition of faith with “Absolutely“. Which means that it is everything in between that I am lacking confidence and surety in. Jesus knows I have to be confidently assured with an “Absolutely” to every one of those questions. That’s when we will see big things happen and big obstacles moving out of our way! Jesus said it like this, “Nothing will be impossible for you.” WOW.
What if we had this resolve: He said it, I believe it, that settles it, so just do it!
Jesus gives Peter another opportunity to walk out this faith. Tax collectors inquire about Jesus paying His temple tax. Instead of Peter jumping out there in response, He waits to hear from Jesus. Good for Peter! Jesus says that a King doesn’t make his son pay taxes. Certainly, that would mean that the King of Kings wouldn’t have to pay taxes!!! However, not to offend (that’s a lesson in itself, that we know our freedoms, but love others enough to withhold so as not to offend), Jesus tells Peter to go to the lake, and throw out a line, and the first fish Peter catches will have the money to pay the taxes, in its mouth. Oh, the humor of God! And oh, how He was trying to teach Peter the elements of faith. It was as if Jesus was saying, “Believe Me! Do what I say, whether it makes sense or not and whether you feel like it or not! I promise you as My child, that good will come of it. Just trust Me!” “How many times do I have to tell you…..?”
Holy Spirit, help us to truly have this kind of radical, unabandoned faith. In Jesus’ name.