Monday, November 3

A bit of Thomas in all of us.......

"Thomas, one of the twelve apostles, who was called Didymus, wasn't with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, 'We've seen the Lord.' Thomas told them, 'I refuse to believe this unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my fingers into them, and put my hand into his side.' A week later Jesus' disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' Then Jesus said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Take your hand, and put it into my side. Stop doubting, and believe.' Thomas responded to Jesus, 'My Lord and my God!'" John 20:24-28 (GWT)

One of the 'painful' sermons, you know----those from which you can't rationalize or wish away, was given on Sunday past at The River church gathering at the Holly High School. Pastor Jim Combs, pastor of The River, The Rock, Faith Baptist, and (the story behind that is a interesting one), opened Thomas in a way that made me realize that I have more in common with 'The Doubter' than I thought, and more than I would have hoped. I, too, wait for my 'reality test' for my Savior.

Didymus, the other name for Thomas, translates from the Greek to mean "Twin". There is speculation among scholars that this meant Thomas had a biological twin, or that another one of the apostles were close enough to be like a biological brother so that is why they called Thomas by such. Pastor Combs, along with a number of scholars and theologians, believe that Didymus means that Thomas was duplicious; two-faced in his faith. Scripture seems to support this view of this apostle.
Thomas was an apostle of great courage and faith in one moment, and capable of a unlimited sckeptism in the next.

I am too much like Thomas; the greatest doubter of Christ and the most courageous follower. I, too, am duplicious.

I too, in those times of greatest struggles, want to demand that litmus test......physical touch and vision with my eyes of the wounds of Christ that He suffered upon the Cross as a sacrifice for my sins. I am a modern day Didymus.
Even with the awesome display of the power of God and the ready ear of His people, I have my moments----too many for where I am in my faith-----where I question God's ability to deliver, heal, and restore this person. Sometimes I believe that I am too far gone, too far broken, to be of any use to God or anyone else for that matter.

For the first time in almost five years, I have given up the call to ministry.....even though it still burns within my soul and heart. I don't doubt the authenticity of the Call, it is too impossible, too widely far from my desire to protect myself from the harshness of those even within the Body to crucify those in leadership.

I struggle with my doubt that God will be able to deliver on His call, to equip me for the work to which He has set aside for me.

But, like Thomas, I continue on the journey walking in the steps of the One to whom I've claim my name as disciple....and His Father, one individual distinct yet the same as the other two that make up the Trinity. I struggle to believe that I am a Beloved Son; slopping in the pig pens of a stranger for the very slop that the pigs will not eat, longing for a home that I know in the very marrow of my bones that I was designed and made for; thinking I'd be better off in the lowest of positions within that home........but, as I turn my eyes towards that distant horizon, I wonder if I'll ever get there or if I'll be even welcomed when I get I take that first step towards home.

Yet, in the fiercest storms that have rocked my boat in the four plus years that I have travelled this journey; towards bibical manhood, fatherhood, and husbandhood......all the costs, all the disappointments, and deep sorrows.......I am capable of the strongest movement and clearest relationship with God. I hear Him, have heard Him speak clear and gentle to me in a voice not my own. I have followed His desires in the greatest height of the storm....trusting in God's grace and mercy as the waters have risen (or the boat has sunk) to my chest and then my have Him deliver upon His promises through the arms of brothers and sisters who, too, have heard the voice of God and responded.

I have gone from a wife, a house, and a 'okay, comfortable' life to a small two bedroom apartment and my kids separated from each other but for two weeks a month, living only because of the mercy of others.....which put me in the apartment I share with my son, gave me the 23-year old car I drive an hour to work and an 1 1/2 hours from work. It is these saints who have clothed my son and given me a month's rent paid in December.

The world and it's usurper ruler does that to us; even those of us who have touched the wounds of our Savior (regardless of whether it was physical or spiritual), those lost within the darkness, and the ability of those seeking to find the sought in the darkness. He knows our deepest fears, how to manipulate our minds into the darkest expressions of humanity, and how to cause us to question God; who He is, what He is, and how He is. The enemy knows my weaknesses and my flaws, he holds the handbook within his evil, scheming hands.......

Yet, in those times of greatest dcubt, as with Thomas, Christ shows him the greatest mercy. He feels compassion for the unbelief of Thomas, offering His hands and His side as evidence of His fulfillment of the Promise and the authority of His resurrection. With patient tenderness, He brings Thomas to that point where doubt, denial, and uncertainity is a turning point; Thomas can turn away in fear, clinging to his doubts or he can reach out and touch the humanity of his Messiah....and believe.

These are the difficulties of an honest believer, seeker, and disciple of the true Risen King. We share these difficulties and we are called to stand with one another; not condemning, but with compassion.....turning our brothers and sisters from a wayward path back onto the narrow pathway home. We all have our moments of "My Lord, My God." Those defining moments that speak of a turning point in our journey home.

"Sound and sincere believers, though slow and weak, shall be graciously accepted of the Lord Jesus." Matthew Henry Concise Commentary. Without Christ, we are faithless, hopefess, and without eternal joy. Without Christ, we are condemned by the law of our own nature. Without Christ, we are lost within a world corrupted and broken by our own methods.

The seasoned, victorious veterans of the Israelite army.....conquerors of many superiorly numbered opponents because of the authority and blessing of their God, quaked in their armor before the mighty Goliath of the Philistine army. Even Saul, then King, who was 'superior to all men, a head taller than any Israelite" quivered before the majesty of such a giant. His words sent fear through the hearts of the hardened warriors.

And it was a shepherd's clothing and equipped with a sling who took offense to the audcity of the enemy against his God. And stepped out into the field of battle and stood his ground; for his people and his God.

I feel like David sometimes, but more than not.....I can identify with those hardened warriors standing in a loud canopy of clanking and clattering armor.........thinking if this giant is too big for the mighty human King Saul, then who am I to think I can do anything.

As I knelt down at the 'altar' in supplication to God during the ending of the service Sunday, I quaked in my clothes. The battle has been set; both armies of the usurper and the True God stand arrayed against each other. My biggest nightmare made flesh stands before the Army of God, his eyes gazing directly into my eyes...his proclaimation echoing in the very marrow of my bones. "You and me," he seems to say, "for the whole of eternity.....whoever stands at the end of this battle will lord over all. What? Don't think your God is big enough?"

Like Thomas, Peter, Paul, Nicodemus, and so many others in the story of God's journey of restoration for His children......Job to came to realize the reality of God when face to face with his own doubt........"My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you"

"Singed by the blast of God's utterance, Job is reminded of who is Creator and who is creature, and of the yawning chasm between them." Centurion Regis Nicoll says in regards to Job, in his commentary Thinking Christianly: The Hiddenness of God, "At this point, Job could have pressed his grievances or slumped and withered. Instead, he bucks up and, in one of the most humble affirmations in scripture, submits to God's sovereignty, trusting that history will unfold according to his perfect will.

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