Monday, December 8, 2014

Small loaves wrapped in a kitchen towel

As He was returning to the city in the early morning, He felt hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it and found nothing on it but leaves. And He said to it ‘May you never bear fruit again,’ and instantly the fig tree withered. The disciples were amazed when they saw it and said, ‘How is it that the fig tree withered instantly?’ Jesus answered, ‘In truth I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt at all, not only will you do what I have done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, “Be pulled up and thrown into the sea,” it will be done. And if you have faith, everything you ask for in prayer, you will receive.’  Matthew 21:18-22

The works of His hands are faithfulness and justice; all His commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, because they are done in truth and equity. He sent redemption to His people; He commanded His covenant forever; holy and awesome is His Name. Psalm 111:2-9

This is one of those passages that starts off as a big glare–it has been the source of a great deal of angst in my soul over the years. “Angst,” as defined by the Urban Dictionary being the perfect word: Angst, often confused with anxiety, is a transcendent emotion in that it combines the unbearable anguish of life with the hopes of overcoming this seemingly impossible situation. Without the important element of hope, then the emotion is anxiety, not angst. Angst denotes the constant struggle one has with the burdens of life that weighs on the dispossessed and not knowing when the salvation will appear.

Although “source” is not the correct word; “trigger” is more accurate.  The source is within my soul, the There is a God and I am not He release that is the constant struggle.

Because my life is full of those instantly withered trees, whether they be a truck running on empty for seven hours on a lonely Mexican road or half a loaf of Bimbo bread being multiplied into enough peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a parkful of children, or instantly calmed convulsing fevers. And in each case there was no fretting about “enough” faith. Rather it was more the sort of mustard seed childlike faith of Little Nicole asking God to be rescued by a potato chip truck and a potato chip truck rounded the corner of the hot summer highway moments later.

And a couple of weeks ago Marco and Matteo’s dad got is a horrible car accident and he broke his neck and everyone said that he would be in a coma forever and if not, at the very best, he would never walk again. And we joined Matteo as he laid his hands on his dad and asked for healing and the next thing I know I got a YouTube clip of Babbo moving his head back and forth as he sang and kicked his legs and we all saw the withered tree. And when Andres threw his crutches down and ran across the street, Nicole pulled out her go-pro and has it on film. And as I texted a prayer to my friend who one night was eating dinner with me and three days later she was at TMC with stage four pancreatic cancer I tried really hard not to worry about falling into some perfect sweet spot in my soul of enough faith and to keep my eyes fixed on Him and who knows but for such a time like this I am in this moment.

Because I totally get the “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” response of the father. And Jesus healed his son anyways. Or because.

And today, not ten days from that first hospital visit for a tummy ache, I got a text announcing her celebration of healing party, to be held at a public library. To quote, "All glory to God on high. He is healing my pancreas; He is healing my liver."

 And Saturday night Cameron came over for bean soup and cheesy English muffins and sliced strawberries and pears and talked about his latest music project that is about space and light and thus about time. And when we step outside and look at the light from just one single star that light, that mixture that sort of acts like a wave and sort of acts like particles, left its suspended burning mass and sped across the emptiness before man even drew his first breath on planet earth. And that is pretty darn big and outside of my understanding.

And I can get tiny glimpses of this faithfulness and justice that just like that starlight is something outside of my understanding. But if He smashes through the façade of rigid materialism even once that means the door is open. And that materialism is such a flimsy façade anyways as poor physicists struggle with putting names on what their brains are stretching outside of their understanding to conceive.

And today my journal writing with the students was a reminder that Once again, He is different than the Greek gods.

1 John 4:8 says God is love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says what love is, so if we substitute the word love for God we can get a good idea of what God is like.

God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. He is not rude, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

And this speaks to me deeply. This God is within my reach. And when I pray to this God, this Abba God of love, He is there, eager to receive my small prayers, like small loaves, and bless them.