Wrestle With It

Matthew 21:21-22 NIV
Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. [22] If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

A girl from Germany once asked me, “Do you know what we say of Americans?” “No,” I replied. She then said, “That you are five miles wide and one inch deep.” She was right. I could not think of a rebuttal.

Since being married, my wife has got me hooked on watching the show, International House Hunters. It’s a ton of fun. What I find interesting after watching this show for months is that time after time, American couples/families state that their reason for moving abroad is that they are seeking a slower, more meaningful life. They want more time for themselves, more time for family, more time for friends, and more time to pursue things that matter. They are right. Our pace of life may be what, in the end, Satan uses more than anything else to sabotage God’s purposes in our lives. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can’t run and run and run and then just trust God to make sure everything you need just falls out of the sky.

What does this have to do with the above Scripture? Did you really read it? Did it strike you like it strikes me? We desperately need to read the Scripture more slowly, with a searching heart, and at times, when needed, to let drop us to our knees. No seminary is going to adequately explain these words of Jesus. No commentary is going to do the job, either. No pastor. No prophet. These words feel out of my reach. They are slippery. I cannot grasp them with my mind. A book will not help. The words are so simple that all I seem to be able to do with them is sit still, in complete silence, and wait on the Holy Spirit to teach me. Is Jesus really serious? Is it that easy to move mountains? Sickness? Poverty? Depression? Hopelessness? Loneliness? Financial obstacles? Marriage roadblocks? Emotional brokeness? Life confusion?

If I believe, I will receive whatever I ask for in prayer? I know what you are thinking. James addresses this in chapter 4. Our motives are wrong, we are asking for the wrong things, etc. But this a mere escape. There is something else. It is not that simple.

Today I slowed down. I let this passage confront my unbelief. challenge my ignorance, and reveal my utter helplessness in attaining that which Jesus seems to offer in this passage. There are greater heights of faith I have not yet reached. There are vast treasuries of His power that seem almost completely untapped in the American church (this includes my life). To use a phrase that seems very “vineyard,” there must be more.

Quit superficially reading the Scripture. Let it confront you. Let it change the way you think about God, yourself, church, and Christianity. I am afraid we read all too often to simply support what we already think/believe to be true. But there is more. Something else is out there. Something else is in us. The Holy Spirit wants to take us to new places and one of the chief ways He will do this is to confront us, block us, and then invite us deeper into His world, the world of the Spirit. Slow down. One inch deep is not good enough. It’s sin. It’s compromise. Do not read fast, read deep. Read for quality, not quantity. What if you got lost in a passage like this and wrestled with it for weeks, maybe months? That’s right, what if you spent weeks or even months in just a few verses? Our faith would change. You might not be able to tell people you read through the Bible, but you would have a faith that is scary. It would probably make most Christians uncomfortable. So dig. Meditate. Wrestle. I read this passage this morning and thought, “Is that really true? Is Jesus really willing to do this and be this in my life and the church I am a part of? Did He mean this? This is literal, huh?” I have a feeling that what i am really doing is not looking for a propositional answer, but rather, a truer manifestation of God’s presence and power based on the above promise of Jesus.


Published by B.J. Condrey, PhD

Dr. Condrey holds a Bachelor of Arts in both Philosophy and Psychology from the University of Missouri-KC, a Master of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a Ph.D. in Ethics & Practical Theology from the University of Edinburgh. He is ACSI certified. Dr. Condrey writes courses and teaches Psychology, Bible, and C.S. Lewis at Enlightium Academy, where he began working in 2016. He has served as a youth, young adult, and small group pastor in the local church, and currently teaches Ethics at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has a book published by Wipf & Stock (Breaking Ground) along with other publications. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and writing, spending time with his family, traveling, trout fishing, family hikes, and drinking coffee! He is passionate about helping young people construct a biblical worldview so that their faith involves both the mind and heart. He has been married since 2009 and has two children.

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