February 27, 2018, 3:02 PM

Rehab: Intervention (Mark 9:14-29) Lent Series Week 3

“It’s time for an intervention!” Now when I say those words, your mind might conjure up images of conflict within a group or a somber gathering of friends and family, tearfully telling their loved one that her addiction, self-harm, or abusive behavior has gone too far and that she needs help. It’s the lost job, broken relationship, burnt bridges, loneliness, despair, or inner soul searching that the Holy Spirit uses to sometimes nudge us, sometimes drive us out into the wilderness. In essence, the need for intervention means that somethings out of whack in our lives and needs to reset, to realign in order for us to become more like Christ, more like the person we were created to become.


While this is often the way that intervention works, I want to point us toward a different kind of intervention, because we’re already in the wilderness. We started our wilderness journey a week and a half ago on Ash Wednesday. That was an intervention like the one I just described, as the Spirit broke us away from our reality and nudged us into the wilderness toward new life. We don’t need that kind of intervention right now, but it’s easy to get stuck in the wilderness, to lose our way, to lose hope and we need God to intervene and help us along.


That’s where the Dad was in the story we just read. He had this messed up kid who was possessed by something that made him crazy in a really self-destructive way. The dad was at his wit’s end and had run out of options, so he seeks out Jesus for some healing for his kid but, see, dad needed healing too. He cried, “Jesus, can you can do anything to help my son,” and Jesus replied, “anything is possible for one who believes.” Then the dad said, “I believe, help my unbelief.” How many times have we uttered that phrase? “I believe, help my unbelief.” This man was stuck in the wilderness and he saw no way out. He needed Jesus to intervene.


I heard a preacher this week talk about the difference between faith and belief. These words seem really similar. In fact, in scripture both come from the same Greek word, pestuo. But he said “Faith is in who God is. Belief is in what God will do. Faith is trust in the nature and character of God. Belief is trust and expectation in what God is gonna do in my life. Faith says ‘God is real.’ Belief says ‘that real God is going to act on my situation.”


It’s like this guy who was walking along a steep cliff one day. He got too close to the edge and fell and on his way down he grabbed a branch, which temporarily stopped his fall. He looked down and to his horror saw that the canyon fell straight down for more than a thousand feet. Well, he couldn't hang onto the branch forever, and there was no way for him to climb up the steep wall of the cliff. So he began yelling for help, hoping that someone passing by would hear him and lower a rope or something. “HELP! HELP! Is anyone up there? HELP!"


He yelled for a long time, but no one heard him. He was about to give up when he heard a voice. “Jack, Jack. Can you hear me?"

"Yes, yes! I can hear you. I'm down here!"

"I can see you, Jack. Are you all right?"

"Yes, but who are you, and where are you?

"I am the Lord, Jack. I'm everywhere."

"The Lord? You mean, GOD?"

"That's Me.”

"God, please help me! I promise if, you'll get me down from here, I'll stop sinning. I'll be a really good person. I'll serve You for the rest of my life."

"Easy on the promises, Jack. Let's get you off from there; then we can talk."

"Now, here's what I want you to do. Listen carefully."

"I'll do anything, Lord. Just tell me what to do."

"Okay. Let go of the branch."


"I said, let go of the branch. Just trust Me. Let go."

There was a long silence.

Finally Jack yelled, "HELP! HELP! IS ANYONE ELSE UP THERE?"


See, it’s possible to have faith in who God is and lack belief in what God is going to do, like the dad in our story. He was essentially saying, “I have faith in who you are, Jesus, but he’s been sick so long I doubt that you can or will heal him. I need you to intervene and help my unbelief.”


Am I the only one who’s cried out “I have faith in who you are, Jesus:

  • but I’ve been stuck in this place,
  • I’ve been wrestling with this addiction
  • I’ve been finding it hard to forgive
  • I’ve been trying to make ends meet
  • I’ve been burning the candles at both ends
  • I’ve been soul sick, in need of mercy, and desperate for divine love

…for so long that I need you help my unbelief that you will intervene and bring me out of this wilderness.”


Well I’m here to tell you that Jesus is there, he’s been there, stuck in the wilderness where you are. He’s made it through and will help you through. I have faith, help my unbelief.

Even when you listen for God and hear nothing but yourself, he is there. Jesus still draws the sick, broken, possessed, and lonely in need of mercy and divine love to himself and when we listen to Jesus we hear God. I have faith, help my unbelief.

That this communion meal we share today is a reminder of God's grace that has changed you and changed me, changes us still every day. I have faith, help my unbelief.

That the children we see on Sunday morning and at Cal's on Wednesdays are precious and beloved by God. And they remind us that the person down the block I can't stand, and the person halfway around the world I might consider my enemy, and myself when I look in the mirror and hate what I see are all beloved children of God. And God will go to the ends of the earth to rescue us. I have faith, help my unbelief.

As you continue this wilderness journey through lent, may God intervene and help your unbelief.          

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