This week has been really stressful to myself and about ten thousand of my friends. There’s job stress, broken hearts, broken people, lost people, lonely people. Seriously, I’ve never been through a week where this much bad news happened to so many people I know. I’m praying for them all, and I know they’re keeping me in their thoughts too.
My personal anxiety (I’m fine, Mom, don’t panic) manifested itself in the form of a very vivid dream Thursday into Friday evening, where I had escaped some house up in the hills, some unknown people were trying to break in, I got out, jumped into a car, and hit Mulholland.
Except I had hit the road with the very clear idea that F*** it, I’m outta here. So I was recklessly driving 100 miles an hour as the road twisted and turned, just waiting for the car to screech out of control and over the side of the hill. Turning this way, turning that way, c’mon, c’mon screech already.
And lo and behold the car and I went over the hill. And all I thought as I was on the way down to my doom was finally. Finally, it’s over.
(Mom, I promise you, I’m fine, I do not want endless nagging conversations about “You’re okay, aren’t you?” Yes, I’m fine. Do NOT ask me. You can be really annoying that way. I promise I love you, but just don’t, mmmkay?)
In my second trip through Reading The Bible Straight Through, I’m now up to the book of Numbers, and good ole’ God Of The Old Testament, who can be rather spiteful and cruel, especially if you happen to be a whiny Israelite who wants something to eat other than manna.
The Israelites were not seeing the miracle of the manna, and how God had delivered them through some pretty spectacular pyrotechnics to get them out of Egypt, and whined to Moses that eating manna 24/7 was a little much. And this is how good ole’ God Of The Old Testament responds:
Numbers 11 verses 18 – 20 – “Tell the people: “Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month – until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it – because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”
So they get a bunch of quail. But good ole’ God Of The Old Testament isn’t done, before they can eat the quail, he strikes the whiners with a plague, and kills them.
Needless to say, this isn’t necessarily a comforting passage to read when I’m approaching God with my troubles, which look a lot like troubles I’ve had in the past. I know I’m whiny. Uh-oh.
Yet today in church, Pastor Bernard was going over the miracle of Jesus getting in the boat and calming the storm. Which hit so close to home it was laughable. (Mom, I swear to God, don’t even THINK about asking me.)
But the difference is, even though the disciples were whiny and scared and frightened, even though the disciples had seen some pretty spectacular pyrotechnics in the forms of miracles that Jesus had done up until now, Jesus does NOT throw them all overboard for their whininess, for their doubt and despair. Instead, he gives them what they want (after rebuking them, of course. But it doesn’t involve plagues.)
My train of thought this week was does a weak pulse of faith still count as much as a strong convicted faith? I know that I will survive these stormy circumstances. I have before, and I will again. But rather than a strong YES I CAN drumbeat, it’s more of an exhausted well, yeah, because time only goes forward, and God’s helped me in the past, so obviously I’m not gonna die here. A weak pulse of faith, rather than a triumphant shout.
And I was concerned that because my weak pulse didn’t have a strong conviction, that somehow God wouldn’t honor it, or listen to it, or He’d wait to help me until I could muster up a mighty YOP, like a Who in Whoville.
It bugged me so much that I asked Pastor Bernard about it before the service today. And Pastor Bernard said, um, yeah, your exhausted faith counts, because the apostles had pretty weak pulses of faith too, and Jesus still stopped the storm for them.
So I know I’ll get through this, just like my friends will too. Not just because time goes forward, and people don’t die even though they may find it hard to get out of bed for awhile, but because God doesn’t forget us, and has moved past the Old Testament stuff of force feeding his chosen people quail and then killing them.
And even though I don’t have a Bright Shiny Happy Face o’ Faith, my faith is still uniquely me. And it still counts. Thank God.
I’ll be back in two weeks, as I’m leaving for a vacation with the family (which is why Mom gets all the warnings above, because I’m not spending a seven day cruise with her worrywart questions.) Send Happy Thoughts that there will be no literal storms that we encounter, because I get my own stateroom with a balcony and I have every intention of enjoying myself, and literal storms are just not allowed.