"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monkeys and Thomas

I saw monkeys today. I watched a family of monkeys swinging from tree top to tree top. Just hanging out in the trees, they would jump, grab a branch and sit for a while. I watched them with a smile on my face.

The area surrounding our hotel here in Hong Kong is beautiful. The grounds are a labyrinth of pathways through a green jungle. Scattered along the pathways are signs indicating that there are monkeys. The signs tell you about the monkeys and how to behave if you encounter one. I chuckled the first time I saw the sign, "Really! Seriously, are there monkeys here?" We are in the middle of the very populated city- for goodness sakes! From the moment I first saw the sign, I doubted that there were actually monkeys. As the days have passed, I have walked the paths many times. I have never seen a monkey. So, now my third day without a monkey-sighting and my doubt has been confirmed.

This morning I was reading about Thomas and his encounter with the Lord after the resurrection. He tells the disciples before he sees Jesus that he will not... he will not believe, unless... Resigned doubt. Sure and certain disbelief. I can just see him looking at the other disciples in a half chuckle and half judgemental annoyance, thinking, "Really! Jesus was here?!" I mean he was dead for goodness sakes!

I was convicted as I read this morning that I have a doubting heart. I doubt, even as I pray, that God is at work in people's hearts. I know enough about man's heart (my own) to know how stubborn and resistant we can be. I also know that we must respond to God. I know that our part is release, surrender and response. But, even as I pray for it, I have a deep seated doubt that God can actually do anything to change a stubborn heart. As if He can't overcome our hardness. I see stubborn hearts. I see unresponsive brothers and sisters. I ask God to work and can't see, necessarily, when He is and when "it's not working!".

Now mind you, yes, I have seen Him do this time and time again. I have seen His miraculous work in the past in many hard hearts. I certainly have seen Him work and do the exact thing I am doubting Him about. Thomas had seen Jesus work miracles. Thomas had seen Jesus raise people from the dead. Thomas had seen. I have seen. And, yet we doubt.

Jesus said to Thomas, "Stop doubting and believe". He also reminds Thomas that he is blessed because of his belief... but even more blessed are those that believe and don't see.

The vibrant life of the unseen work of God. As I pondered these phrases,... stop doubting and believe. ...blessed are they who believe and have not seen. ...a vibrant life of the unseen work of God..., I set out on my walk to continue my conversation with the Lord.

I walked and passed the sign again. There it was. The monkey sign. Without any thought, I doubted it. I passed it almost with a wisp of unbelief... I had totally written off the monkey thing. There were no monkeys on these grounds. I was a bit like Thomas... I won't believe until I see it!
And then there they were. As plain as day I saw a pack of 5 or 6 monkeys. Just hanging out and swinging in the trees! The smile that immediately formed on my face was an "ah-ha" moment of sorts. The smile accompanied the thought, "Put out your hand and touch my side, Thomas". Stop doubting and believe.

I want to believe God. I want to walk looking for, anticipating and expecting His unseen vibrant work in hearts, minds and souls. I want to be okay.... secure in the fact He is working even when I don't see it. I can't see the product of my prayers... not very often at least. And, that needs to be okay. I want it to be okay, Lord. Just believe, He is saying to me. Believe that there are all sorts of things going on around you that you can't see... from the butterflies to the monkeys, from the conviction of sin to the welling up of joy and hope. I am at work, He says. Always. I am always at work! Keep asking, stop doubting and believe.

His word tells me, "I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him." (Ecc. 3)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...