Monday, May 11, 2015

Getting it right

Mitch was tired of battling with paranoid schizophrenia for more than fifteen years. He was on a heavy cocktail of medications that dulled his senses. Suspicions that he was being stalked or that people were plotting to harm him occupied his mind so much that he would barely be able to function. He came to church off and on. He’d ask for prayer, often arguing that God wasn’t doing anything for him, but if I argued back hard enough with the logic of the Word of God, he’d back down and accept it. He was stubborn and often difficult to speak to, but he wanted God. Challenging him to act his faith didn’t always work. He’d battle his negative thoughts for a while and then just let them blow up in his mind and do something foolish that he’d later regret.

One day, Mitch was so fed up with his life that he made his most heartfelt prayer ever. “God, I believe in you, but your Word isn’t happening in my life. You promised that you would take our burdens and give us rest. Well my burden is getting heavier. What You promise isn’t happening, it doesn’t make sense to even have a Bible if its promises are not meant for me.” In a fit of anguish, he took his favorite Bible out onto the sidewalk, burned it to ashes, and went back into the house to take an overdose of meds and die.

What looked like the most demonic act ever – burning a Bible and then attempting suicide – was Mitch’s attempt at crying out to God. In the confusion of his mind, he wanted that Word to become true for him more than anything. He wasn’t burning it out of hatred or rebellion, but out of a sense of injustice that evil had robbed him of a real life. Mitch technically did all the wrong things, but God saw the intentions of his heart and intervened immediately. That was the week Mitch was healed. The overdose that should have killed him had no effect other than giving him a good sleep. Fifteen years of medications came to a screeching halt. There’s been much learning, growing and catching up on a decade and a half of lost time since that day in 2013, and still more to go. But Mitch is now happily married, and works at a stable job he never imagined he’d be able to handle before. God obviously saw his faith in the midst of his confusion and honored it.  

If the intentions of your heart are not tainted by wanting to impress others or God, acting in real faith usually makes you look crazy. You can appear proud, or aloof, too excited, too aggressive, too quiet – whatever it is, real faith rubs others the wrong way. Others may not know your motives, but God does. Even when we stumble and try, get turned around and keep trying, He judges our motives more than the outward details of all we do or say. Thankfully He is merciful and not as narrow-minded as we are, but neither is He fooled by false appearances. So act your faith today – though I recommend something that doesn’t include burning a bible.

As for you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. (1 Chronicles 28:9 HCSB)

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