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Thursday, July 31, 2008

On slow learners and being like a child

This summer I embarked on a quest to read the Bible. Believe it or not, I've never read much of any of the Bible before, other than when I was the "reader" at Mass. Well, I've come to realize just how little I really know of the Bible and wanted to change that. A friend suggested that I start with the New Testament, but I wanted to read the whole thing. My compromise was to alternate books. First Genesis, then Matthew. Exodus, then Mark.

I'm most of the way through Mark now, and I love how the text notes of my NIV Bible call the disciples "slow learners". Twice!! It references "Mark's depiction of the disciples as slow learners." Nice.

It makes me think. If they were slow to catch on after learning directly from Jesus; witnessing his miracles and healings; after being sent out to preach, heal, and drive out demons; after being a part of the miraculous feeding of 5,000 and then the feeding of 4,000...then maybe I'm not doing so badly.

Like the disciples, I am trying to comprehend God with my human mind, all while knowing he is far beyond my reasoning and understanding. I've been told and have read, "Just believe." This is so hard for me. I'm the kind of person who, if a friend tells me something I haven't heard before, asks for references! It's a very difficult thing for me to "just believe" things without being able to reason or think things out for myself; and, of course, God is so far beyond human reasoning and understanding. A quote from Mark really jumped out at me today: "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief."

This is such an adult problem. We're afraid to just believe things. Maybe we don't want to look silly or simple. Other times we don't want to be taken advantage of. How many times have I passed someone holding a sign on a street corner asking for food, work, or help without doing something...just because I don't want to give to someone who doesn't really need the help. That wouldn't take away from my generosity. We don't want to do something because we don't know. Children, on the other hand, believe what their parents tell them. The tooth fairy, Santa Claus, that trusting look that says "I know I'm safe because you said so"...they take things on faith.

In so many ways, I am like a child before God. I feel myself kicking against rules that I know are for my own good, to protect me and others and to lead me to be a better person. I'm the little girl crying because she'd rather have ice cream for supper than broccoli. I'm kicking the shopping cart because I can't have that toy. I'm that 14 year old pouting in my room because my parents wouldn't allow me to go to a concert with a 21 year old boy. I know it's not for my good, but it's what I want right now. Why is it that I can be so childish in my obedience but not childlike in my faith?

This is something that I will be praying about. I need God to increase my faith. I found two quotes today that relate to this struggle. I'm going to be speaking the latter one aloud.

"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive teh kingdom of God like a
little child will never enter it."

"My faith does not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."

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