Why is it so easy for me to believe that God created the universe, parted the waters of the Red Sea, raised Lazarus from the dead, and on and on and on, but the idea that He could miraculously tuck some extra books onto my bookshelf is too far-fetched to even consider?
If I had a dollar for every passage in the Bible that I find somewhat difficult to understand, I would be very wealthy indeed. One such scripture comes from Mark 9 when Jesus was asked by a man to dispel the demon from his son. Here is a portion of that account.
The father said, “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”
“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-24)
That last line always confused me. In one breath, the father declares his faith and in the next, confesses his unbelief. But I think I’m beginning to understand it as God continues to reveal His Word to me. In the last couple of days, God has made an example in my own life.
A few weeks ago, I was asked by an area church to speak to their women’s ministry about prayer. I consider prayer to be a discipline that I practice fairly well, having committed a couple of years ago to really work on that. Prayer and fasting have become a cornerstone of my life. But as I prepared for the program by digging into the Scriptures about prayer and re-reading some of my favorite books on the subject, I was convicted in my spirit that prayer had, somewhere along the way, become more of a habit than a passion.
My passion was rekindled as I prepared for and encouraged the ladies. I believe it is possible God asked me to do this because the message He placed on my heart to share with them was the message He wanted to give to me. He spoke to me through me. One of the books I re-read in this process was, “Let Prayer Change Your Life,” by Becky Tirabassi.
I highly recommend the book to anyone looking to establish a richer prayer life. In the book, she recounts a story of finding a book on her shelf that she didn’t recall purchasing — a book that she wanted/needed to read on prayer. I didn’t think much of it at the time I read it other than, “Wow! Isn’t that amazing! God is awesome.” The book that miraculously appeared on her shelf was one of several that she suggested had benefited her greatly in her study and practice of prayer. As I read on, I kept a list of all of the titles and authors as I came to them, thinking I might also read some of them.
I have to explain something. Books are something of a sore subject in our house because I have some hoarder tendencies, especially as it pertains to my cherished library. This frustrates my minimalist husband, so as a compromise, I try to keep my collection within the space of the 3 bookshelves in my office, which are usually quite full. E-readers aren’t the same to me. Being a visual learner, I need to read it on the page, in the book, highlight it, underline it, and hold it in my hands.
A couple of days later, when I was returning Becky’s book to my shelf, I noticed something that confounded me. There just where I had removed, “Let Prayer Change Your Life,” were three of the books on the list I had made. I already owned three of the books. But here’s the thing — I have gone through all of my books twice within the last few weeks, as we have moved my shelves for painting and installing new floors. Both times, I carefully considered each title in order to let some go. I do not remember seeing these books in my collection. I do not remember buying them and I have no idea where they came from.
Or do I know exactly where they came from?
Isn’t is just like God to make Himself known to me in such an obvious way? I had just read Becky’s account of a similar experience, having thought, “Oh, isn’t God wonderful to do a miracle like that?” I had recently been through all the books, so I had a good idea of what I had. I stood there, confounded, and smiled, thinking, “I must be on a very good track with this prayer thing.”
And in that moment, I understood the verse. In that moment, it became clear to me what it means to cry out, “I do believe! Help me overcome my unbelief!”
It means that I have no problem accepting that God would miraculously place a book on Becky Tirabassi’s bookshelf, but I have a hard time believing He could place three on my bookshelf.
Thank you, God, for helping me overcome my unbelief.