When All You've Got Is A Tiny Bit Of Faith

When I was in seminary, I was required to take class in homiletics.  Homiletics is a fancy word for the art of preaching or composing sermons.  It was a forgettable season in my seminary career, but I still remember a couple things about the class.  

I remember that the professor generally always reeked of cigarettes because he would take a smoke break right before the class--even in the dead of winter.  I also remember that he told us never to use stories from our own lives as sermon illustrations. He considered this self-indulgent.  

The reason why I remember this lesson so well is because I decided there and then that it was a practice I had no interest in adopting.  

And so, whether I am writing or preaching, I talk about my brokenness as well as the moments when I feel whole.  I share the ways I feel the darkness of doubt, and I share the moments when I feel the pleasure of the Lord washing over me like grace-filled rays of sunlight.   

One of the passages in the Gospels that means so much to me is the story of the father who begs Jesus to heal his son in Mark chapter 9.  Jesus tells him that anything is possible for those who believe.  

This man had been barely hanging on when it came to faith because of all he'd been through with his son.  He doesn't feel like he has a lot of faith left, but what he has, he gives to Jesus.  "Lord, I believe," he exclaims, "help my unbelief."  

That story has always captured my heart because I've been in that place so many times in my life.  In part, it's what made me decide long ago that to withhold my struggles from my preaching, teaching and writing seemed more self-indulgent than sharing them.  

I read this fantastic quote today from French Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.  He wrote, "Give our Lord the benefit of believing that His hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete."  

What I want most of all is for anyone who hears my voice, or reads my words to know that it's okay to feel like you don't have it all together---because you don't.  It's perfectly all right to not have all the answers---because you don't.  None of us do. 

The miracle of the God's great big story of salvation is that despite the fact none of us have it together, God continues to use broken vessels like us to further God's kingdom and to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the world.

That, my friends is Good News.  It's worth stumbling after, giving your life to and surrendering all your outcomes to with even the tiniest amount of faith.    Because when you do, wholeness happens... eternal life happens...  redemption happens... 

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you today and always.  Amen.  


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