There is an unnamed man in the New Testament that I feel I am a kindred spirit to. You read his story in Mark 9, where this desperate father brings his child, his son, to Jesus' closest followers, asking that they heal him. When they are unable to do so, the father turns to Jesus and begs him to have pity on them and help them, if he can. "'If you can'?" asks Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." At once the father blurts out what I have found myself so often feeling: "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
Can I just say how glad I am that this man's story is recorded in black and white right in the middle of the Gospel story? So glad. So thankful. So relieved that I am not the only one who struggles with faith and doubt, belief and unbelief - often in the very same breath.
And the best part of his story? Jesus didn't turn him away, he didn't condemn him and he didn't wait to heal his son. He didn't require that his faith be perfect, without the tiniest of cracks. He took both his belief and his unbelief and responded to his plea.
Maybe faith isn't always big, bold, and confident. Maybe sometimes, it is simply the act of coming to Jesus, even if you have to drag your fears, doubts, hurts and hesitations with you.
One of my college professors told me years ago that obedience is our faith, or confidence in God, put in to action. If I trust God, I will do what He says, even though I cannot see the outcome from where I stand.
Sometimes faith is stepping out, and sometimes it is holding steady.
Sometimes faith is speaking up and sometimes faith asks you to hold your tongue and be silent.
Sometimes faith puts you out in front, leading others and sometimes it requires you to be content in the shadows and obscurity.
Sometimes faith is moving towards something new and exciting and sometimes faith means not giving up or throwing in the towel when something is hard and crushing.
Sometimes faith gets to walk bold and confident and other times faith limps, broken and hurting, straight to Jesus.
In a world that is constantly looking for the next Instagram-worthy moment, it is easy to forget that many of our most crucial and pivotal steps of faith will be ones that we must take in the darkness, when no one else notices, let alone applauds us for them. But God sees. And just as He has promised to forget our sins, He also has promised to never forget our faithfulness.
Faith isn't a feeling. It isn't the absence of fear, doubt, worry or hesitations. It is the commitment to continue in spite of all those things. It is "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is holding out in front of ourselves, with shaking hands, both our belief and our unbelief as we come to Jesus, over and over again, day after day, until our confidence in Him and in His goodness, love and sovereignty grows steady and strong beneath our feet. And then, whenever He asks us to step out and do or stay strong and endure, we can say "yes". Not because our faith is perfect, but because we've fixed our eyes on the One who is.