Posted on January 15, 2014
#37: Crisis Faith or Constant Faith?
Where were you on 9/11? Most people recall with crystal clarity where they were when the first hijacked plane hit the World Trade Center. Most also know where they were on the first Sunday after 9/11. Churches all over America posted record attendances on September 16th. People who hadn’t attended for years had a sudden urge to be in church. They were scared, and they instinctively sought God.
I’m told, by those old enough to remember, that the same feeling came over America following Pearl Harbor. Funny how crisis—whether shared by millions or our own personal trauma— awakens us to our need for God. In our most hopeless moments, we run toward hope. Otherwise we so easily doze spiritually, though we need Him just as desperately on an ordinary day as on a 9/11 day.
Jesus’ coming brought a sense of hope to the hopeless. Everywhere Jesus went, people ran to Him. Sometimes they ran ahead of Him, so they’d be there when He arrived (Mk. 6:33).
Pause for a moment to read Mark 6:53-56. Also read Luke 6:17-19. Then, check out Jesus’ disappointed words in Matthew 11:20-24.
Notice in Mark 6:53-56 why people came running; they came bringing their sick. Personal crises in the form of infirmity (whether illness or demon-possession or chronic disability—being blind, deaf, or lame) drove them to Jesus because they’d heard He could heal them. (Some may also have heard that they might get a free fish dinner!) But what happened, according to Luke 6:17-19, when crisis wasn’t an issue?
Matthew Henry wrote, “We do not see that they were desirous to be taught by Him, only to be healed. If ministers could cure people’s bodily diseases, what multitudes would attend them! But it is sad to think how much more concerned most of men are about their bodies than about their souls.” (Proof comes with one look at a church’s prayer list, full of physical needs but empty of spiritual ones.)
Desire Born of Desperation
When was the last time we really prayed, really dug in to the Word, really ached for Him to speak? For most of us, the answer would be connected to some dilemma: when a child was sick, when a cancer diagnosis loomed, when a job was lost, when plans fell apart, when a marriage was crumbling, when a teen rebelled.
But when life is peaceful, when the pressure’s off, what happens? Do we still pray, still dig in to the Word? Do we still hunger for His presence? On a post-9/11 Sunday, we may have been on high alert, spiritually. But on a normal Sunday if He walked into our church services, we’d say, “Nice to meet you,” yawn, and go back to reading the bulletin! We pray for Him to be among us when He already is. If by chance our eyes were opened and we could suddenly see Him, I guarantee most of us would run to Him with our most pressing physical needs.
How does He want us to come to Him? With undivided hearts that seek Him all the time, not just in frantic moments. He yearns for people who have constant faith, not crisis faith, for people who understand what their deepest need is. Listen to the longing of God: “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. . . . They will be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezek. 11:19-20) Not just in crisis. All the time, forever.
Our prayer should match the Psalmist’s. “Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.” (Ps. 86:11b-13) Lord, give us undivided hearts!
© Diane McLoud 2013