Hold on. This is not how Sunday school goes.
Why’re you passing out water before class? It’s not snack time. We just got here. First you pray, then you read the bible and tell us a story, then you quiz us, and finally, we get snacks. What are you, a sub?
Yea, I was that third grader. The obsessive-compulsive-can’t-change-the-routine third grader. My poor teachers….
Despite that, the teachers were doing something different. That’s not what bothered me. Adults are far more prone to error than they want third graders to think; a fact that I was fully aware of. No, something else was going on. They were giving us water, and they were really excited about it. I squinted into my little Dixie cup and sniffed its contents. Smelled like water. Looked like water. So what was the catch?
My eyes narrowed further as the teachers stood up in front and began an (in my mind) overdue explanation.
“You were each given a cup full of liquid. It looks like water…it smells like nothing – just like water – for all we know just by looking at it, it’s water.” A glimmer shone in the head ladies eye. I should’ve known that she was up to something.
“Now listen close kids….this isn’t really water at all. You’re going to have to trust me on this, but don’t drink it yet! This is lemonade. It’s not water at all.” The lady smiled, all excited. I looked from her, to the cup in my hand. I wasn’t buyin’ it. Being the informative little snot that I was, I made sure she knew it.
“This isn’t lemonade. It’s water!” I said. The lady frowned, her countenance falling. “Yes, it is. You just have to trust me.” She said.
“No, it’s not! It’s WATER!” The louder I said it, the more it made sense. A couple of kids nodded in agreement with me. Most of them (outwardly) trusted the teachers. Some of the kids frowned at me. Others looked into their cups, even more confused than they were before. I knew that I was right.
“Just hold on a second, sweetie. You just have to trust me.” Condescension never rubbed well with me. “I still think it’s water.” I muttered. Teacher didn’t listen, and all eyes moved back to her. I glowered in silence until the teachers said that we could take a sip from our cup. I stared at mine and shook it a little. Water or not, it didn’t look poisonous. I took a slow, cautious sip and found….
A room temperature glass of lemonade. I looked up at the teachers, shrugged, and said, “Ok. It’s lemonade.” I downed the rest with no further protest. Acceptance came with proof. No need to be embarrassed or sheepish about it.
When the teachers introduced our story lesson, they had the grace not to use me as an example outright. Thomas was a man who doubted everyone’s word. He had walked with them for years, watched miracles with them, learned side by side with them, and trusted them on a daily basis. But his trust had limits. Thomas couldn’t believe the impossible.
Thomas was just like me.
That chord struck deep…we both believed that we were right. We knew, deep down, that there are few certainties in the world, and that those certainties are nearly impossible to change. People don’t raise from the dead. Water doesn’t turn into wine (or lemonade) and just because you want it to be true doesn’t make it so.
Thomas and I had to have proof. We didn’t just hope for proof. We insisted on it.
I don’t think either one of us thought about that when we started following Jesus. It made sense at the time. Follow the guy who has the most authority, the most power, and most importantly, is impossible to prove wrong. Who could ask for a better leader?
I wonder, did Thomas realize he would have to trust Him in everything – to trust Him beyond the shadow of a doubt?
I know that I didn’t. When I agreed to this as a kid, I didn’t realize that I would have to trust God to do the impossible. I didn’t realize that I would have to trust Jesus to get me through every single day or that I would be asked to do things that I couldn’t do without Him.
Seeing is believing. I never doubted that Jesus was real, or that He was the son of God. I saw Him work in my life, just as plainly as I tasted lemonade on that fateful day. Only fools deny what is right before them.
But believing without seeing….that’s faith.
Honestly, I could use some more faith.
I don’t see how everything is going to work out, where I will live, where I will be working. Beyond this summer, I don’t know. I’m not going to live with my parents anymore. (Yay!!) I will be married – that much, I’m certain of. (Then again, Yellowstone might finally pop. You never know.)
Unfortunately, those aren’t the things that Thomas and I share in common. Well, probably, but they aren’t the things that are worthy of doubt. They always sort out one way or another.
I still doubt that Jesus will keep his promise.
I deny that daily. I say that I trust Him completely, and when it comes to life & death matters I do.
But if I really trusted Him without a single doubt…why don’t I listen? Why do I still try to take my own counsel instead of taking it to the Lord in prayer? What in me demands absolute proof before I move on in anything? Every action I take, vision I see, and problem I meet, undergoes serious evaluation. Some would say that I am cautious. I know the truth. I’m afraid.
Fear destroys certainty.
Doubt is uncertainty.
But that’s not the end of the story.
Once he knew the truth, Thomas accepted it. He called out Jesus’s name, knowing Him for who He was. I want to live as Thomas did after he knew. I want to accept my Lord and my God without question, and without falter.
I have to do something that I don’t like, and that I’m terrible at. I have to live with what I don’t know. Water is not satisfying, lemonade is not nourishing. I’ve been given living water. Jesus leads me, and His word is true. I want that to be enough. It is enough.