This morning I have been struggling. We had hoped that by our Celtic retreat next week that we would have seen the finances provided to begin the first building at the Mustard Seed Village and it does not look as though that will happen – at least not in the way I would have hoped. We are making progress, in fact even as I write this the land is being cleared where the first building will stand. But it seems such a tiny step in the the midst of the monumental needs we have to see this vision come into being. Yet we do believe this dream is from God and that in God’s time and God’s ways it will be accomplished.
So why am I struggling? I am struggling because I want to see God’s plan mapped out and I want to see it happen now, on my terms. I want to see big donations come in, but God is sending small mustard seed donations that move us forward one step at a time. I feel like Thomas who needed to see Jesus in the flesh with the scars from the nails in his hands and feet in order to believe.
It isn’t easy to trust and have faith in the unseen promises of God. Look at Abraham he doubted that Sarah could have a child and so slept with Hagar and fathered Ishmael. The children of Israel constantly doubted God’s ability to provide in the desert and constantly put him to the test. And once they settled in the promised land they doubted that God could lead them and asked for a king.
Yet doubt is very definitely a part of the human condition and as Thomas Merton affirms in this previous post, it is essential to faith. Maybe like me you can identify with this quote from Merton that Coe Hutchison used in another post on doubt
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going, I do not see the road ahead of me, I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, I will trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” (Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1976)
Without doubt we do not grow. Tradition has it that Thomas went on to spread the gospel to India. Abraham and Sarah did have a son who gave birth to the entire Israelite nation and ultimately the Saviour of our world.
But I realize too that there is a fine line between the doubt that grows our faith and the doubt that leads us astray. What makes the difference is whether we lean into God when we doubt or away from God. Thomas seemed to lean towards God. Joining together with the other disciples in a place in which he could encounter the risen Christ and have his doubts settled.
So this morning I am asking you to join with me in prayer. Ask God to bring me face to face with Jesus in a new way so that my doubts can be dispelled and this project can move forward in God’s way.