Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Today’s text

Matthew 15:21-28

Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

No limits

What is great faith? How does it happen?

I wish I could turn back the clock 11 years and give it to my father. I am haunted by the image of him lying helpless in bed, his body limp and weak as a kitten after a second heart surgery.

Post-polio syndrome, not heart disease, had totally depleted him. The rehabilitation staff tried to get him some strength in his one “good” leg and arm. But there was nothing left to rehabilitate. Nothing. And we all knew it, including him … though he kept trying and we cheered every tiny sign of growth even when we knew they were false.

We loved him too much to admit to ourselves or to him what our mind and heart could not deny. This time he was done. There would be no more coming home, no more adjustments to get just a little more out of his broken, polio-ravaged body.

Heartbreaking for us who loved him more than we knew how to say, but it was worse for him.

“I wish I had your faith,” he said to me one morning as lay nearly immobile in his bed at the rehab hospital.

He wanted greater faith … mine. I have no idea what this means.

Did he think more faith would have lifted his broken heart as he was forced to live a life and die a death captive to the disease that had stolen his youth … and now, everything?

Did he think greater faith would have given him more courage?

And what is great faith anyway? The strength to continue on? The flame of trust that God’s goodness will yet come? The hope that pushes forward when everything is dark? The grip that holds fast to God’s grace even when it seems there is nothing there?

I said the first thing that came to mind when Dad wished aloud for my faith.

“Let me have faith for both us. “ I said. “I will have faith for both of us. You … just rest. You rest in the arms of Love as surely as you rest in this bed. You have worked long enough. Now it is time for rest.

I was asking him to end the struggle he waged since his 29th year when disease had stolen the life he was born to live … along with the rolling hillsides he had farmed and never ceased to love.

Once, faith was loving the land and trusting the Creator’s goodness amid the struggle of nurturing those hills to the vibrant green beauty of life.

After disease came, it meant holding on, making changing and trusting that life was still rich and beautiful, a holy gift of God to be received and cherished even when loss and struggle came

At the end, faith was knowing it was time to let go and just know … all the beauty, all the love, all the wonder he had ever known and seen, tasted and touched shined with the face of the One Great Beauty who would receive him home.

Great faith, I suppose, means different things at different times. Sometimes it shaking your fist at God and complaining, sometimes trying to accept what can’t be changed, sometimes it is struggle, sometimes just resting … and knowing.

Faith is the lifetime journey of leaning there is no place the Love of Christ cannot or will not go.

Pr. David L. Miller

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