The inner sanctum of belief and unbelief

It’s 10:49 p.m. on Friday night.  We had a great Thanksgiving Day celebration and a relaxing Friday.  I already had the title to this blog written down and my subject decided upon when my son came in to inform me that the toilet would not flush, or rather that the water would not go down when he flushed…and there was nothing solid that had been flushed…not even toilet paper. Nevertheless I grabbed a plunger and plunged away.  Water came out of the sink drain.

I went down into the basement and immediately knew something was wrong.  Water was seeping in through the 114 year-old limestone walls and also through the worn out cast iron pipes that drain to the outside.  Through my limited powers of deduction I deduced that either there was a clog in the main sewer line between the house and the street (and there aren’t any trees in that line) or the line had simply collapsed like I have been expecting it to any year.

Every year I have noticed that more and more homes in Earlham have had their sewer lines collapse.  But, like just about every other trouble in this world, their sewer collapse (or cancer, or heartache, or brain problem etc.) was not really my problem.

Certainly there is a degree of genuine empathy that goes out toward those who suffer under trials of various kinds.  But if I’m completely honest with myself I’m probably more thankful that their trouble was not my trouble than I am actually entering into their world.

I also deduced that all water sources going out of the main were also coming right back into the house…but at least there is a working sewer drain in the floor as well.  This means essentially no more water use until we get this thing figured out.

The funny thing is I was just getting ready to write about belief and unbelief from Mark Ch. 9…literally, when Luke came to me with the lovely news.  In Mark 9:14-29 there is a remarkable encounter between a demon spirit that had possessed a young boy and Jesus.  The boy would convulse and foam at the mouth. Verse 22 says that the demon “has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him.”

The boy’s father pleaded with Jesus “…if you can do anything, have compassion and help us.”  Jesus said to him in return, “If you can!  All things are possible for one who believes.”  The father then cried out these gut level honest words “I believe; help my unbelief.”

Jesus did deliver this boy from the trauma of the demonic possession.  And the father… well, he is one I can identify with full well.  On the one hand I can sing with the throngs “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand” and on the other I inadvertantly woke my wife several nights ago at 3:00 a.m. with my soft moanings of “Oh no.”  She said, “What?”  I said, “Nothing, I didn’t think you were awake.” We both knew the object of those words.

And so it is.  The inner sanctum of belief and unbelief is a tenuous place.  But in that place the mettle of one’s faith is put to the test like no other.  Even a strong faith in an Almighty Omnipotent God does not extinguish every ember of the arrows that fly by night.  Like the man in Mark 9, I believe.  I really do believe.  Even, so, Lord, my belief is not perfect… so help my unbelief.  And remind me not to flush the toilet in the morning.

Corrie Ten Boom, a Christian woman whose family suffered much for hiding Jews during World War II, once said, “Never doubt in the darkness what God has taught you in the day.”  Those are good words.


One thought on “The inner sanctum of belief and unbelief”

  1. Oh Mike, we can really relate. About 7 years ago we went through an incredibly dark time. I won’t go into the details but suffice it to say it was a Job time. In the span of 10 days, the Lord allowed all three of my dear family to suffer some really life changing (bad!) “stuff”.

    I was hit in the face with my own belief/unbelief. Did I really believe what I had so easily sung about the previous Sunday? I knew it to be true and yet here’s where the rubber hit the road. God had not moved nor shifted from His throne but clearly our circumstances were different. Was I still willing to bow my knee to Him, His majesty and power? He WAS regardless of whether I said so or not. But was I going to trust and obey (for there’s no other way!)? It was truly a spiritual battle in my heart. I finally came to the realization that He was, I wasn’t and if that’s all I knew, that enough.

    I was upheld by His Words in Isaiah:
    57:10 “You were tired by the length of your road, but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.’
    You found renewed strength, and you did not faint.”

    And 54:10 “For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
    But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
    And my covenant of peace will not be shaken,”
    says the Lord who has compassion on you.

    I am eternally grateful that He is mindful that I am but dust! Stand firm my dear brother and sister for the Lord says, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are ever before Me.”

    He has not shifted nor moved. He IS the rock of our salvation. I know you know that but allow others to stand for you when you feel greatly shaken. Once again, thank you for sharing your hearts and being real.

    In His Grip (but still squirming at times!),
    Paul and Adele


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