Unripe Fruit

From my 2013 Journal.

Recently, I broached a subject with a friend about an issue I’d noticed in her life. Her steely hard, plant-the-feet-in-the-ground, defensive posture, and irrational response all told me this subject was a trigger, and I needed to back off. She’s obviously not ready to receive my input, and so I have to let it go.

I know her heart desires truth, but she’s not ready to face her pain. And that’s okay. It’s God’s job to gently woo her to Himself and prepare her heart to be willing.

Don’t pick unripe fruit!

How Much Evidence Do I Need?

From my 2016 Journal.

Jesus’ death left pain in its wake, and His followers stubbornly refused to believe the women who reported seeing Him after He had risen (Mark 16:14). I wonder what lie the disciples believed that kept denial in place?

  • Too good to be true.
  • I can’t let myself feel hope for fear I’ll be disappointed.
  • You can’t trust a woman’s word.

Jesus doesn’t need to dig around in their psyches to help them discover why they’re being stubborn. (That’s what I would have done.) He knows their hearts and rebukes them for their refusal to believe. God is patient with our struggles and fears and doubts, but He’s not so patient with stubborn disbelief. How many times did He say, “O ye of little faith?” There’s no pointing fingers here. I’m plenty guilty myself.

The women at the tomb believed as soon as the angels spoke truth to them. The men, however, continued to doubt when presented with the evidence (others’ testimony and an empty tomb). The disciples on the road to Emmaus couldn’t seem to grasp the truth, and Jesus rebuked them. Even when the disciples saw Jesus in the room where they gathered, and the joy center of their brain activated, they had a hard time believing.

We know that the brain is a complex organ—different parts are responsible for different functions: the occipital for eyes, the amygdala for emotion, the frontal cortex for logic and reasoning, and memory in a different part. Since God created the human brain, He knows what part gets activated during fear (like Peter sinking in the sea of Galilee). He knows that the frontal cortex shuts down during a fight/flight/freeze situation. Yet He seems impatient: Why do you doubt, Peter? Why do you have so little faith? Why don’t you men believe when the evidence is in front of you that I’m alive? Stop doubting!

What makes us doubt? Is the emotion center too strong? Are there lies imbedded in that emotion? Those with D.I.D. (Dissociative Identity Disorder) maintain strong denial parts, for if they believe trauma happened, then they’d have to admit it was real. Once truth enters the brain, however, and they experience an encounter with the living Lord Jesus, doubt and fear flee. Jesus knows all this, so is He really impatient . . . or is He challenging His disciples to accept HIM, the way, the truth, and the life?

Sometimes it’s hard to believe someone else’s testimony, but everyone (including Mary, the ten disciples, and eventually Thomas) believed when they saw the resurrected Jesus with their own eyes. Why? Because they experienced it for themselves. Truth experienced in the right brain translates into left-brain belief.

When evidence stares me in the face, what makes me dig in my heels and refuse to see truth? [2021 update: I’m not talking about political opinions on whether or not to wear masks!]

Is My God Box Too Small?

Any belief that isn’t part of your experience remains in the shadow of doubt (Pastor Allen Jackson, WOC).

Left to Tell, by Immaculée Ilibagiza, is a moving and powerful story of a Rwandan genocide survivor. In this book Immaculée recalls how God protected her, how her faith grew during the ordeal, and how she found God’s power strong enough to forgive her enemies.

My Protestant roots antennae shot up, however, when I read how Jesus AND MARY, the mother of Jesus, appeared to Immaculée and ministered to her. This scenario flies in the face of mypieta-by-michelangelo_2463081 Baptist upbringing. Was it truly Mary or was it simply a visual that God gave her because He knew it would comfort her heart?

Does God use what we believe and are familiar with when He speaks to us? Does God accommodate us in our beliefs with which we’ve grown up? OR does Mary, the Mother of Jesus, truly have a role in ministry to us here on earth? From my understanding of Scripture, I would say no, but how do I account for this person’s experience?

I have a couple Gentile friends who believe we should eat according to Old Testament dietary laws and worship on the Sabbath. Does God honor their hearts—their desire to return to the origins of our Christian faith? Are Protestants out of God’s will for worshiping on Sunday and eating pork? Who gets to decide what’s right?

I want to be holy. I want to do right, be right. I want to honor God with my lips and my actions. But what if I’m doing wrong out of ignorance? Does God honor my heart attitude? King David did right most of the time, but fell once, and conviction ate him up inside. Can I trust the Holy Spirit to convict me, to guide me, to prompt me?

While praying with people in my ministry, I’ve often been astonished at the answers God gives them that bring them to peace. “How can that be?” I wonder. I freely admit that my God-box is simply too small. Am I okay with the fact that Immaculée claimed to have seen Mary and Jesus and that they ministered to her? Is my God-box big enough to handle it—that her experience is hers and “what is that to me?” Like Mary, I “ponder all these things in my heart.”

I also hear the echoes of my teachers and pastors who cry out for doctrinal purity—who are careful to interpret the Scriptures faithfully according to their understanding. But who’s to say their interpretation is always the right one? Warren W. Wiersbe says, “Godly men differ.” We come to the Holy Scriptures with the biases of our own experiences, our triggers, our needs, our culture, our upbringing. How can we shake off error and embrace truth?

Will God honor obedience to what we THINK is right—even if it’s wrong? In Leviticus law, it didn’t SEEM to matter what the heart was—it was all about adherence to a set of rules. Or was it? God made provision for the unintentional sin.

I want to do right and to adhere to truth that I know and understand. If my friend chooses to keep kosher out of conviction, should I follow? No, I don’t think so. Then I would be following one woman’s leading instead of Jesus’ conviction on my own heart. But what if God gave me a vision of Mary ministering to me? How would I respond?

So does God have (or reveal) different truths for different people? Or is there only one truth, applied many ways? I believe that there is only one Truth—and His name is Jesus. Look to Him alone as the author and finisher of our faith and leave all others to God to handle, instruct, and teach. I’m not responsible for the way God works in others. I am only accountable for myself and my relationship to Him.

We all have blind spots. I wonder what error, mis-belief, or false teaching I hold to in my life?