"'If I can?'" Jesus asked. "Everything is possible for him who believes."
And the boy's father immediately responded and exclaimed, "I do believe! Help me overcome my unbelief!" **
You know. I really respect this father. I see his response as very humble. When people call me out, as Jesus called the boy's father out, my general response is to, while admitting to my mistake, also make excuse for it. I think my natural response to Jesus' words would have been, "Oh, that's what I meant! I didn't mean you couldn't do it. I just...worded my request badly. Of course you can do anything and everything. I didn't mean to imply you couldn't! My wording was simply poor..." And I probably would have babbled excuses for awhile.
The father doesn't do that. He owns up to his fault, admits his unbelief. He doesn't say he doesn't believe, but he recognizes that part of him was skeptical. Perhaps it was not even a conscious thing, but there was a bit of him that wanted a safety. If he didn't 100% acknowledge Jesus' power, then if Jesus did not heal the boy, then the father had an escape clause. He could pass it off as, "Well I asked, 'if he could help' and clearly, he could not." But after Jesus called the father out, he admitted his unbelief. And instead of just saying, "Sorry, I had a moment of failure to believe in your awesome, great, omnipotence." He recognizes that he will probably have these bouts of unbelief again, and again, and again. And he asks for help. He asks Jesus to help him overcome his unbelief. He humbles himself by admitting his fault, and then requests help in overcoming that weakness.
These are good things to take into account, things we should remember to do. When we're called out on a sin, no excuses. Own up, admit to it, take ownership, then apologize or make it right, and accept the forgiveness that accompanies that recognition of sin.
And remember that we are unbelieving souls. Like the father, we always want a safety net hanging right below us at all times. We want bungee cables tied to our belts to make sure we bounce right back up. We want hard hats and padded knee and elbow guards. We want three kinds of health insurance and extra money saved in the bank. Plan A, B, and C, and then backup plan 1, 2, and 3...just incase Jesus doesn't come through. Or that on the off chance that the .001% of you that has a really hard time believing Jesus really is real was the right part of you. Incase Jesus doesn't come back. Backup plans.
Pitch 'em. Burn them. Cut the cords, destroy the plans, take the cash out of the bank and spend it on something more worthwhile. Backup plans are for sissies. And in saying that, I'm definitely calling myself a sissy. It's so hard to put 100% and then some into Jesus. Someone I've never seen. Someone I won't see until I die. But though I may not have seen his actual face in person, I've seen his work in the world. I've seen his love played out. I've seen the difference he has made in lives. I've seen the difference he made and makes in my life. I've heard his voice. I've heard others' stories of his love and care and grace and mercy. I've felt his presence in my life, and in others' lives. And I know he's real.
That doesn't make destruction of Backup Plans time easier, but it must happen. Have a destruction party in your backyard to burn the plans and extra insurance papers. Let the flames flicker high, orange and bright in the dark sky. Let it burn, burn, burn. Then go inside, and remember the father. He believed, but he still had unbelief. And he knew it. And he recognized his need for a savior and his need for belief. So he asked for it. Go inside, leave your backup plans to burn and ask Jesus to help you overcome your disbelief. And he will, oh he will.
**my wording, from Mark 9.