It was a few summers ago when the legend of the missing pizza slice began.
On one of those summer nights when we arrived home late from an all-day activity, my husband stopped for pizza and brought it home for us.
But when he opened up the pizza box, he gasped in mock-horror and surprise.
“Hey,” he said, “there’s a missing slice!”
My girls jumped right in with theories and finally settled on this: Someone at the Papa John’s had eaten a slice of our pizza.
We played along. My husband said maybe they were just testing it to see how it tasted or maybe we should get our pizza elsewhere.
The girls all nodded as we happily ate the remaining pizza slices.
So then, we just kept up the tradition and the joke. Every time my husband brought pizza home that summer, he ate one slice in the car before he brought it to us for dinner.
And the girls marveled that every single time there was this missing piece.
What was wrong with the people making our pizzas?
After a year or so of this, my husband really pushed the limits. Instead of Papa John’s, we got Pizza Hut…..and he ate a slice before bringing it home to see what our kids would say.
One of my kids announced that maybe the Papa John’s worker had quit and gone over to Pizza Hut and was now sampling our pizzas there, too!!!
It’s my youngest daughter who eyed her dad suspiciously and then started interrogating him to see if maybe, just maybe, he was the culprit.
Really, I think she knows the truth. She knows that her dad has been secretly eating one slice out of each of our pizzas before bringing them home for at least two years now.
But she doesn’t want to let the joke go. Or maybe she doesn’t want to accuse her dad of pizza slice-sneaking. So she pushes right up to the point where she almost announces the truth and then backs off and lets everyone keep the mystery going.
She dismisses what’s true because she’s distracted by the noise around her.
And that can be me. That can be us.
I’ve been feeling this longing lately, this deep desire to believe, really and truly believe God and His love for me, to grip hard onto this truth.
But then I get distracted. I get worn down. I get forgetful. I get weary. Life is noisy, after all.
And then I let go, slipping right down into the waters of unbelief and nigh-on drowning in all the stress I carry around when I don’t trust God to care for me instead of doing everything on my own.
I don’t want to wrestle with my puny faith or trample down my nagging worries all the time.
When Jesus says, “I Am,” I want to rest in that.
When He says, “I Will,” I want to trust Him.
Instead, even though He’s always been faithful, I foolishly fret that maybe this one time, maybe in this one situation, maybe in this one seemingly impossible instance, He’ll fail me.
Maybe He provides for others, but not for me.
Maybe He came through in the past, but not this time.
So I’ve been praying the same thing as the father in Mark 9:24
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
The moment that worry creeps in, the moment I hear that first nagging cynicism, the moment I start running through possible scenarios in my mind and I feel the crushing weight of “what if,” I go back to Jesus.
Help me believe.
This week, I once again read in Romans what it says about Abraham:
No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised (Romans 4:20-21 ESV).
No unbelief? No wavering? He was fully convinced that God was able.
Not only that he grew strong in his faith.
Waiting wears me down. I grow doubtful over time. But Abraham grew stronger instead.
So, what’s the secret?
Maybe it’s that he was giving glory to God (verse 20). Maybe if I just keep returning to praise, I’ll become less forgetful, less prone to wander, question, and doubt.
This is where the faith-building happens, with our hands raised in worship, with our mouths singing His praise, giving Him glory for who He is and all that He’s done, tuning our hearts to trust Him with our future and believe He is able to care for us through it all.