Among the books in my library, one is written by John Krakenhauer, entitled “Into Thin Air”. It is the story of Krakenhauer and others with him who attempted to climb Mount Everest. There is also a movie by the same title. John was a representative for “Outdoor” magazine and one of the few who made it to the summit of Everest on this climb. However, his feat was overshadowed by the tragic death of two famous climbers, Scott Fisher and Rob Hall. There were 8 dead climbers before the team got off the mountain.

John describes the agony of the climb as they leave camp four and head for the summit. They get through the famous, but agonizing climb at the Hillary Step, then the final push up the final slope that leads to the summit. The climb takes diligence, dedication, and a willingness to suffer in order to attain the glory of gaining the peak of this famous mountain.

I have never had any desire to climb and summit any mountain of that fame, though I have loved to hike and have done much of it over the years. I think of the diligence and the mental and emotional determination that one must have in order to do this. In reading the book “Into Thin Air”, my thoughts were transferred to my own career, that of leadership with the church. I asked myself the question, “do I have that kind of dedication to attain; that this team had to gain their objective”?

My thoughts go to Mark 2. Here is a story of determination. Jesus had come to Capernaum. Crowds gathered to listen to his teaching, even to the point that you could not get in the door. There were a group of determined men who wanted their paralyzed friend to get near enough to Jesus so that Jesus might help him. However, the door was blocked by people. Their determination was such that they resorted to extreme measures. They climbed up onto the roof and began to remove tiles right above where Jesus was. They tied ropes onto the mat the man lay on and slowly lowered him until his mat was right in front of Jesus. Jesus looked at the man as he lay there, then looked up and saw the hole where the men were peering anxiously, looking to see what their effort would produce.

There is a very significant statement as He takes all this in. “And Jesus seeing their faith…” Do you realize what is being said here? Faith, when exercised, can be observed. What did Jesus “see” that prompted that statement? He saw a hole in the roof. He observed the effort these men took to do what he now observed.
Faith is not something that is hidden in your heart. If you have faith, it will be observed in the way you live, in the way you talk, and in the things that you pursue in life.

Jesus then looked at the man and said, “My son, your sins are forgiven”. These men did not do what they did to hear that statement from the man that was the object of their faith. Why did Jesus say what he did when he said it? Because the condition of your heart is more important than the condition of your body. Jesus later said to the man as he lay paralyzed on his mat, “Rise, take up your mat and go home.”

I try to imagine the action of the man as he hears the words, then cautiously begins to stand, something he had never done before. I imagine the expression on the faces of the men on the roof; as they peer through the hole they had just made and watch the man make his way out of the crowd to see a new world. His sins were forgiven, and his body was healed.

Where do I get faith? Can I order it on the internet as I do many other things? Can I get it through some mystical religious experience? Is it contagious so it can be passed on from one person to another like the virus? Where does faith come from?

I am convinced that spiritual faith has two sides to it. It is based on a promise, then acted on by me. So it involves action on my part, believing that my actions will be confirmed by God. These men that brought the paralytic and made the hole in the roof were acting in faith. The man would still be on his mat, paralyzed, if his friends did not act. What caused these men to act? They heard that Jesus had come to their town, Capernaum, and they had heard and perhaps seen what Jesus was capable of. Could He do the same for their friend? Their faith was based on what Jesus did and what he had been saying. So they acted. Their faith was honored, and God received praise.

There were some critics who were watching this scene take place. It is of interest to me to observe their reaction. Did what they just saw create faith for them? “There were some sitting there reasoning in their hearts. Why does He speak this way; He is blaspheming…” Watching the miraculous does not create faith. It does not come from any human source.

What do I learn from reading this account? There are at least three things.

First, miracles are born in the heart of God, not man. Our technology has brought us a long way in understanding our world. Some of the things technology has accomplished are amazing. I watch and listen as technology explores the world of artificial intelligence, a culture where the cars drive themselves, our ability to “fix” the human body, and the list goes on. However, only God can do the impossible. Only God can create life. I dare not take my eyes off of Him and become a part of this world.

The second thing I learn is, that I do not treat the things of God casually, but use great diligence. When Krakenhauer was climbing the treacherous part of Everest called the Hillary step (so named after the first man to climb Everest, Edmund Hillary), he was not casual but highly focused on every step. To find the secrets of God requires great diligence. Jesus talks about self-denial, and Paul talks about the death of the human spirit so that the Spirit of God may reign within us. Jacob found God by the ford called “Jabok,” which means “trouble”. Then, that evening he wrestled with God all night. You do not find God by whistling dixie. It requires diligence.

The third thing I find in the text is initiative. I see this characteristic in these men. They took the initiative, and the result was that they saw the miraculous. Initiative has its enemies such as sloth, procrastination, and a life of self-interest. However, those things will not lead us to the miraculous. That’s what these men found.

How can you choose diligence and take initiative this week to see the miracles of God come alive in your own life?

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