As a child I would sit through Bible class listening to all the stories of characters like Daniel who survived hungry lions, or Jonah who was eaten by a giant fish, or the three men with really crazy names who stood in a fiery furnace without even one singed hair.
The stories fascinated me. But they were just that, stories.
I knew I was supposed to believe that these men were real, and that these experiences were real, but seriously? A man chilled out with hungry lions? A guy swam around in a whale-like animal for a couple days? Those men walked around inside of fire without feeling pain? Even though I would never speak up and say it, I wanted proof that these events took place, that these people were real.
Of course as I grew older, I found the proof I needed that God’s Word is inspired and full of only Truth. But my need for reassurance, and solid proof, continued to surface itself in other ways throughout my Christian walk. Whether it was wanting God to show me if I was going to date the 5th grade heartthrob, or asking Him to show me He cared about my high school friendship dynamics, or begging Him to lead me to the right career path in college, there always seemed to be this deep desire for proof that God was real, that He was present, and that He cared.
In John 6, we read of a similar feeling from a large crowd of followers. We are told in verses 1-15 that Jesus amazed the crowd with the miracle of feeding thousands on only a few loaves of bread and fish. The crowd stood in awe and responded by declaring Christ as the true Prophet who would come into the world (vs 14).
But then just one day later, when Christ tells the same crowd of His power, the people respond in verse 30 by saying, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?” Regardless of the crazy awesome miracles Jesus performed, the people continued demanding for more and more proof.
The prideful me would say that I would only need one miracle to dedicate my life as a believer of Christ. But based on my 25 year long track record of constantly searching for reassurance of God’s presence, power, and concern for my life, the humbled me would admit to being one of the thousands yelling, “PROVE IT!”
I can’t help but wonder if when Jesus declares the famous line in John 19:30, “It is finished”, He didn’t feel a sense of satisfaction that He had provided the ultimate proof that humanity would ever need. Proof that He loved us, cared for us, that He longed for our companionship. At that moment, it’s like He was declaring, “I will never have to prove myself again. If ever you doubt, return to my Cross and there you will find your proof!”
As I think about so many of you returning to school within the next few days and weeks, I can’t help but wonder how many times you will be pushed to “prove” yourselves to the world. Whether your friends push you to prove that God is real and Christianity is worth the effort, or your teachers and coaches press you to prove you’re different than all the hundreds of other students and players, or your family waits for you to prove you will not fall into the wrong crowd and down the wrong path, you will be exhausted with opportunities to prove yourself.
And though I’m sure I could scrounge up “wise” advice to pass on to each of you as you enter into a year full of proving your faith, your beliefs, and your God to the world, I want to share with you something better. A prayer from the apostle Paul, possibly one of the most encouraging and beautiful prayers recorded.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
From this prayer, I wish each of you the following:
- Strength in the core of you, to live by and through the Spirit (vs 16).
- Faith grounded and rooted in Christ who makes His home in your heart (vs 17).
- Understanding of the crazy, unconditional, unfathomable love that your Father extends to you (vs 18-19).
- Power to live and speak boldly for and about a God who is capable of all things (vs 20).
- Humility to serve a glorious God amongst His chosen people (vs 21).
If you do nothing else throughout this new school year than to strive to activate this recorded prayer in your daily walk, I know without a doubt you can and will prove the beauty of Godliness to your peers. I challenge you to live according to the belief that this prayer can transform your life, that Christ’s place at the cross continues to impact your walk, and that the countless recordings of brave Christians in the Bible affects the decisions in your life.