If?!?!?! (Part 2)

(Find Part 1 of the narrative here)

Then a voice silenced the crowd…

Faith. It’s clear that’s what this teacher wanted. It was also clear that’s what made him so angry. He had come off that mountain looking for faith, and he found the argument instead. But then he looked past the scuffle and into the father’s eyes, and something was indeed different.

The father didn’t quite know what He saw in those eyes. Intensity? Definitely. Power? Certainly. Compassion? Maybe. Maybe compassion was there. And at that point, what did he or his son really have to lose? So He asked Him for the thing he had stopped really believing would happen a long time ago. He asked for the impossible, and even while the words came out of his mouth, he knew he had made a mistake.

“If… If you can, please help us. Help me. Help my boy. If you can…”

And that one single word was the one he wanted to grab and shove back into his throat. It came out. The word was out there now, and there was nothing he could do about it.

All those memories came flooding back through his mind, and he knew he had blown it. Why hadn’t he spoken more carefully? Why hadn’t he chosen his words better? Why had he allowed it to slip out? He knew the answer – he was crying now, and he knew the answer. The last 5 years had built up in his heart and he didn’t have anything left. He was hanging on by a thread, and though he wanted to believe that this teacher, this “healer,” this rabbi was different, he knew he didn’t. He wanted to believe. And yet he did not believe.

And just when he didn’t think he could feel any worse, Jesus turned the issue back in his face. “If?” He said. “If? That’s not a word appropriate in my presence. I can, friend, I can. The question isn’t whether I can… the question is whether you believe.”

And the father’s spirit broke in half. If Jesus had asked him for money, he would have given Him all he had. If He would have asked for devotion, the man would have pledged his life. But faith? That’s where he ran short, and he knew it. It was the one thing Jesus wanted, and it was the one thing in low supply.

If only the father has asked in a better way. If only he hadn’t already admitted that he didn’t fully believe. If only. If…

There’s that stinking word again. If…

He grew weary of the word. He was tired of the “if’s.” He was tired of an entire life of “if’s.

If only his son was better…

If only things were different…

If only God would hear…

If only he had faith…

He was frustrated now, at everything his life had turned into, and so the volume of his next statement surprised even him: “I want to believe! I do believe! Help me overcome my unbelief!”

And then his son was still. The crowd still gathered, but they did so with hushed voices. The man had closed his eyes with his statement, unable to look at all the “if’s” in his life, and unable to look at his son who had broken out into a new and violent set of convulsions. But he opened his lids to see Jesus kneeling there, cradling his boy in His arms. It was done, just like that.

It was impossible for the man to sort through his emotions. Somehow he knew things were different, somehow he knew things were better, and yes, somehow he knew God had heard… but why? Jesus said he had to believe, and yet he knew he did not. Not wholly. Not completely.

(to be continued…)

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