"Lord, open my eyes to the wonderful things in Your Law."
This is my prayer so often as I sit down to open God's Word each morning. Today was wonderful, yet not so wonderful. You know, days when deep conviction sets in. Yet, at the same time seeing God's amazing mercy. This God who showers us with new mercies every day.
I started reading the book of Mark last week. The second Gospel of the Life of Jesus. I don't know about about you, but sometimes self-righteousness rears its ugly head and I think, "I know all these Bible stories. I learned them from the time I was knee high to a grasshopper." (O.K. Now I am sounding a tad like my grandpa.) As I read, I encountered over and over again the amazing unbelief that followed Jesus around in the form of His very disciples. Not the mass of followers. His beloved twelve.
There I found myself.
Mark 4:35-41 recounts the storm being stilled by its very Creator. Now to be clear, many other healings took place before this, but the response of his close followers was fear. Fear of the waves. Fear of the wind. Fear of perishing. Their Savior stilled it instantly. He questioned them as to why they were afraid. He asked them, "Do you still have no faith?" There response: "they became VERY much afraid and said to one another,"Who then is this, that even the wind and sea obey Him?"
Many more healings took place and five thousand (or more) are fed with very little. Another miracle before their very eyes. They leave the mountain side to take a boat to the other side. During this ride, Jesus comes walking on the water to them. Their response: FEAR! Utter Astonishment! And we are told that "they had gained no insight from the feeding of the five thousand, but their hearts were hardened."
More miracles, feedings and healings. The Pharisees enter the picture. Jesus warns His disciples of the "leaven of the Pharisees", and yet, all they can think about is food; real bread. Jesus gently reminds them of all He has done. He asks them several questions to jog their minds about what they have just been a part of. It's useless. They are helpless. At this point, I think to myself, "Can you believe it? Such unbelief!"
Surely they have to start understanding. No. Not yet, Now enters Peter. Jesus is expressing to them what is about to happen to Him. Mark 8:32 says, "And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him." Peter rebuked Jesus! Can you believe it? If I was Jesus, I'm pretty sure I would have zapped them all.
Then my heart condemns me. I find myself wondering what I would do. What I do now? God is faithful. God is everpresent. I forget. I fear. I distrust. I even....rebuke. "God, You really don't know what You're doing!" Do I say these words? No! But I live them out.
I praise Jesus for His amazing mercy! Thankful He doesn't give up on me and zap me. In awe that He reaches down so often in His gentle, loving way and nudges me to keep going. To keep believing. To keep loving Him.