Meditations on “God of Transformation: 21: I need to see
Jn 20:25 But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
The thing about the Christian community is that we are a totally mixed bunch. I was pondering the other day how important is it to know and to understand, i.e. how important is it to learn the truths of the faith. Personally I want to know, I have a thirst for knowledge – if only I had a memory that matched the thirst!!! I would always encourage new believers to learn, to read the Bible, attend Bible studies, take notes on Sunday mornings, keep a journal – but that isn’t where everyone is at. Some of us don’t like writing, some of us are not god at memorising. Does that make us a lesser person? No! Just a different person.
Yes there are great men and woman of God who are also great scholars, but there are also wonderful men and women of God but who have little understanding of words such as redemption, justification, sanctification, or glorification. They are simple people with wonderful faith and do wonderful things in the name of the Lord. And the Lord loves each of us just as we are. I was talking to a friend the other day and reflected on the fact that if it was possible to measure knowledge and understanding, I would guess my knowledge and understanding of the things of the faith have increased a hundredfold, if not more, in the years since I became a Christian but the Lord loved me exactly the same when I was a young Christian as now.
There are days when I feel a saint. I wake in the morning and the sun is shining and it’s good to be alive. I have a long ‘quiet time’. I pray and I feel like I’m in heaven and His word comes alive in every sentence. I encounter people in the day and share the Lord. I attend a church meeting in the evening and the sense of the Lord’s presence is very real and I contribute much to the meeting and people go away blessed. I have further time with the Lord and go to bed praising and worshipping. In fact perhaps because I went to bed late, I wake up next morning feeling terrible. I feel muzzy headed and when I open my Bible the words look fuzzy, so I shut it and simply pray, “Lord, you know.” and that’s it. The day totters by and it’s like walking through syrup, physically, mentally and spiritually. I stay in and watch rubbish TV in the evening and go to bed shattered. Now here’s the question: on which day does the Lord love me most? Answer, both! I suspect He feels differently about me on the two days – pleased on the first, saddened on the second – but He still loves me the same on both.
Now I say all this with Thomas in mind. He had missed seeing Jesus when he had first appeared after his resurrection and so when all the others bubbled with the wonder of what they had experienced when they had met Jesus again, he is gritty. He thinks they must have been hallucinating or it’s some form of hysteria. For him nothing less that being able to touch Jesus personally and feel for himself that he is real flesh and blood alive again, will do. And you know what? The Lord loves him!
For some of us, just hearing someone else’s testimony, of hearing some teacher giving an academic explanation of some word in the Bible, just doesn’t cut it for us. We need something more tangible and so even all these meditations about God transforming leaves us feeling, “Well I’ll believe it when He does it for me!” That’s OK, He still loves you just as much as me. But be honest, is your refusal to believe more to do with a fear of what the consequences will be rather than struggling with the possibility? You see, if it is that, then so often the fears of ‘what might follow’ are completely unfounded and unreal. The Lord probably isn’t going to ask you to confront a Pharaoh, He’s already had a Moses for that. He probably isn’t going to ask you to walk on water, because you’re not likely to be in a storm on a lake seeing Jesus walk towards you, and anyway, your name’s not Peter.
No the truth is that Jesus didn’t leave Thomas doubting for the rest of his life, he came to him a week later and said (basically), “OK Thomas, if that what you want, here I am, touch me.” And Thomas fell before him and worshipped him. An all or nothing person, our Thomas! Is that you? If the Lord comes close and transforms your understanding, will you worship him? Is your heart for him, it’s just that you need to get it a bit clearer? If you’ve read these meditations for any time you will know my testimony in this respect – there have been so many times when I have prayed and asked for encouragement and then it has come, often within minutes, sometimes within days, but it has always come.
You see the Lord understands us and understands our struggles. And in fact goes along with our little charades. I know this by Gideon’s little episode with the fleece (Jud 6:36-40) where the Lord went along with his requests. I have to warn you that sometimes, to get to the place of transformation, the Lord does invite us to step out in faith so that He can then prove He’s there for you. For example, consider what He said through Malachi to the people of Jerusalem in his day: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” (Mal 3:10) Trusting Him materially was a problem for them so He says, well, go on, trust me, bring tithes as the Law says, and I’ll guarantee you that you will be blessed so greatly you’ll hardly be able to handle it – but you step out and do it first.
There’s just one more thing. Yes, sometimes there will be a material answer – and yes, He will bring a material change – but as He is seeking to teach us to walk by faith (which means by hearing Him), are you open for Him to speak to you and bring a confirmation or encouragement that way? Be honest, is your request because actually you don’t want an answer or is it a genuine need for clarification? If it is the latter, then He will speak and will seek to bring transformation to your understanding. Thomas had the physical Jesus in front of him and it had been a physical question posed by the other disciples. Today it will be unlikely to be that, so dare to pray, ‘Lord please transform my understanding, strengthen my faith, speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”