John 20:28-29 (NLT)
“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
Thomas was traumatized along with all the other disciples and followers of Jesus. Things had not turned out like they had planned now they were all living in hiding fearing for their own lives after witnessing the unjust harsh brutality and horrific acts against the Messiah. Or was He really who He claimed to be? I mean if Jesus were really the Son of God surely He would have saved Himself from such atrocities. At some point, the Lord would have ended such nonsense to destroy His Enemies. Were they wrong? Only fools believing in someone who claimed to be God but turned out to be a man? What if it all was like the Jews had accused an elaborate farce that they had given up their lives for? How could they be so wrong yet if feel so right? I am quite certain many of us would have been just like Thomas doubting in hiding and fear worrying about what might happen next in this world of uncertainty. He was not the only one. Even Peter tried to go back to his old life as a fisherman after Jesus died. Who could blame them? When we come to the end of our faith losing confidence in our hope, it becomes a do-or-die situation. When we have expectations that are not met, it is tough to bounce back from human despair and discouragement especially when we think we were waiting on God. Jesus told Thomas, “You believe because you have seen me.” Who doesn’t? When things are going the way that we expect them to with our wants and needs satisfied surely the Lord must be in it. But when things change or humanity runs into the unexpected, the very first thing challenged is what we believe especially those things that we cannot see.
Our new little dog has proven to be a joy and blessing. She is three pounds of pure energy reminiscent of a toddler. She makes a grand entrance every time she enters a room. Knowing what she wants when she wants it, she is quite insistent and persistent. Izzy is a good dog. The desperate plea for a new home included the usual details such as housebroken, crate-trained and well-behaved beloved pet – needs a new home. Now we all know that if she was this perfect little creature no one would have given her up. Well, I wasn’t a believer. I know better. This is not our first rodeo. When we decided to take her, I knew going in that there would be some training and retraining involved and was just hopeful that she would be teachable. Well, we are blessed because she totally responds to positive reinforcement and in just weeks has learned many things. She really is a good puppy. However, I still have to watch her. When she wanders off and I cannot see her, I still look for her. Why? She is a puppy and lacks the maturity of other grown dog. When I cannot see her, I look for her. When I am not entirely certain what she is up to or she doesn’t come when I call, I go looking for her. Now I am not equating this animal in any way, shape or form to Jesus – but simply saying that when I cannot see her I look for her. When I cannot see what the Lord is doing in my life – I look for Him. When I cannot hear His Voice – I listen more intently. When I do not understand – I search for Him. This is how we build our belief when we cannot see.
Luke 24:28-31 (NLT)
By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!
No one expected Jesus to die. They did not think that things would end the way that they did. People could not understand the picture that was unfolding even though Jesus had told them over and over again. God sent His Word to the prophets and then wrapped it in flesh. Jesus fulfilled every detail of God’s Word. On this journey, they could not see the forest for the trees. Rather than putting all the pieces together, they looked at the details of that day and more intently their own disappointment in the outcome rather than seeing a divine plan unfolding before their eyes. They could not see the salvation of the Lord because they were consumed with the details of His Death. Resurrection power requires death. Nothing can come back to life unless first something dies. As these men walked along the road with the Lord, they were relaying all the details of the day to Him. They talked about the current news not the coming Lord. The commentary relayed a message of fear not faith. It did not relay life but death.
We are all walking through life. There will be times in our life that it is clear God is moving and working His Way through our life. But just because we get caught up in the details of our life doesn’t mean that God has changed His Mind or somehow become unfaithful, it is up to us to believe without seeing based on His Word. Jesus called those men out that day saying, “You foolish people, why do you find it so hard to believe…” I believe that the Lord is saying the very same thing to me. What a beautiful story even this tale of the walk to Emmaus. The men did not recognize Jesus at first, but they desired Him. When it came time to part ways, they wanted Him to stay even though they did not know that it was Him. Suddenly…their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus. I believe we get caught up in the details of our life and forget what we are after. We forget everything the Word of God says in the trauma of living and sometimes must be reminded of the benefits of believing without seeing. Pain shrouds our thinking and turns what we know to instant uncertainty along with other things like tragedy, brokenness, unexpected sickness, disease and even death. This is when we must move from what we have seen the Lord doing to what we know that He is doing. Time to step up and take a look from the mile high view rather than scurrying around trying to make sense of the unthinkable. Sadly, not every Christian will achieve such a thing. It is hard to move past what we can see and how we feel to know the Lord with such intimacy. It means searching past our sight. It means calling out when no one is there. It is a constant commitment to seek the Lord in all things not based on what we think or feel but who we know Him to be.
When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.” Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!
This is my favorite account in the Word of God bar none. The story of the Roman officer has captivated me since I first read it many years ago. He is the man. Just an ordinary man with an important job. I have often wondered where he was when Jesus was crucified. How heart wrenching it must have been to hear about it much less participate if he was one of the men involved that day? This soldier understood the power and authority of Jesus Christ. He believed in this power and authority wholeheartedly. When his servant fell ill, this man knew that Jesus Christ could heal him just by speaking the Word. Jesus offered to come to the man’s house which was ridiculous because he was not a Jew. But the officer told the Lord, “Just say the Word from where you are, and my servant will be healed.” Forgive me Lord and help my unbelief. Sometimes I think as Christians who want to become believers, if we would take a practical and intentional approach to our faith like we do life it would be more productive. Faith is not a fantasy. It is a fact. To believe opens us up to all the power and authority that Heaven contains. It is our answer to every problem. But somehow we forget in the midst of living life that we serve a God who created all life and knows exactly what comes next. This is the kind of faith that amazes the Lord. He credited the officer with a greater faith than all of Israel.
I want that kind of faith. I want to believe God at His Word…every single word not just the ones that I like or feel apply to me on any given day. I want His Will. I must learn to seek His Will when I cannot see what He is doing or don’t like the details filling my days. Just like you I get discouraged, but when I am faced with the choice of giving up…I just can’t do it. What if every Word is true? What if His Will is really good? What if His Way leads to love, joy and peace in abundance? I just have to know which means I just have to keep walking, searching and learning along the way.
2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV) For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Lately I feel like the men on the road to Emmaus not really sure what I believe on any given day based on the details surrounding my life. It is on those long walks in the unknown that I meet Jesus. At first, He is just another voice in the crowd vying for my attention. The others seem more credible as they recount the obvious details of my life. But the farther I go the more interested I become in His Voice until I find myself wanting a more intimate conversation with Him. I want to hear what the Lord has to say and find I want what He has promised. It is when I realize I never veered off course or lost my way. I was simply walking out this thing called faith with all its peaks and valleys. The important thing on a walk is to keep walking or you will never find your way home. So today, I am walking by faith. There are some things that I cannot see that are very perplexing. But today, if only for today, I will forfeit the need to know why or when or how and just focus Jesus who is the only One who can make this walk worth it.
Psalm 89:15-18 (NLT)
Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation. They exult in your righteousness. You are their glorious strength. It pleases you to make us strong. Yes, our protection comes from the Lord, and he, the Holy One of Israel, has given us our king.