Ok, maybe I should explain that.
My husband has a penchant for dead guys. And by "dead guys" I mean old theologians. Comes with the territory of being reformed and a pastor I guess. He loves Spurgeon and Augustine ad Luther and Lloyd-Jones and M'cheyne. And if you know who half those guys are, kudos! And since he loves them so much, I get to love them too. Meaning of course, that he buys me beautifully bound copies of their works for my birthday. So I have a beautiful copy of Morning & Evening Daily Readings by C. H. Spurgeon that I use in my devotional time.
Turns out its quite convicting.
So, never one to be constrained by calendars or schedules (I'm a free spirit people, trapped in a mom's body who has to have routine or my kids will mutiny), I tend to fall "behind" sometimes (a lot). So, I was actually reading yesterday's "evening" reading this afternoon. And it was a doozy!
Spurgeon was elaborating on the man from Mark 9 who approaches Jesus to heal his demon-possessed son. He cries out in desperation "if you can do anything...help him." Incredulously, Jesus retorts, "'If I can'? All things are possible for one who believes!" And the father yells, "I believe, help my unbelief." This passage has had a special place in my heart since Sophomore English class when Dr. Weathers had us read Shadow and Light, in which was included an essay by Flannery O'Conner. She references this passage (wrongfully attributing it to Peter instead of the desperate father of the sick boy) and calls it the "foundation prayer of faith". That has been above all helpful to me as I have walked this path of faith in an age so ready to dump it all: That doubt is the starting place for true faith. That gave me permission to struggle with Jesus without letting go, clinging to him as Jacob until he blessed me and crippled me, which was itself the blessing.
Spurgeon had a similar message: that the "if" of the mans cry was at the wrong point. Not "if Jesus can" but "if we believe". Again, very encouraging. The power is not in question, but our faith in the power. Praise God! He doesn't waver or grow weary.
But again, not what really drug me to my knees in repentance tonight. Rather it as Spurgeon's description of the father:
The father, having seen the futility of the endeavors of the disciples to heal his child, had little or no faith in Christ, and therefore, when he was bidden to bring his son to Him, he said to Jesus, 'If Thou canst do anything...'"That broke me: "the futility of the endeavors of the disciples". It is so often ME that causes those around me to have "little or no faith in Christ". I know that it is Jesus who calls, the Holy Spirit who convicts, the Father who chooses. I know I'm not THAT powerful to be the one and only source on whom any person's salvation depends. I'm not taking that on. But I am realizing that my fumbling, arrogant, blunders can put a roadblock in people's way to faith. I know they HAVE. I know I have made it harder for people to approach Jesus. I know I have at times made it easier to walk away. Those disciples were trying to serve, but they were doing it on their own power. I have been guilty of that time and time again. It has been the Jennifer show. All about me!
And for that I am so sorry.
I'm not apologizing for the Gospel. The truth of Jesus Christ is absolute and along with Paul I say, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it the power of salvation to everyone who believes" Romans 1:16.
But I may have shared the Gospel in a way that was too tinged with my own broken humanity.
I'm not apologizing if I have pointed out sin, but I may owe you an apology for HOW I pointed out sin.
I'm not apologizing for going where God has called me, but I may owe you an apology for HOW I went.
I'm not apologizing for teaching the truth, but I may owe you an apology for tacking on my own opinion and distancing you.
I'm apologizing for not serving when you needed me, for not answering when you called, for not acknowledging your feelings and listening to your heart.
If you are one that I have made faith hard for; if my loud mouth has over stated my case or hurt your heart; if I have voiced my opinions instead of the Gospel when speaking over you; if my hurt feelings have caused me to lash out and wound you; if my mishandling of truth has made it more difficult for you to believe: I AM SORRY.
I invite you to contact me and allow me the grace to repent to you personally.
Please do not judge Jesus by His followers.
We need Him too!