The Legend of the Missing Pizza Slice

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 God21 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.

You can click here to listen to Audrey Assad sing, “Help My Unbelief.”  This is a song I’ve been singing often lately.

Dear Pinterest, May I Suggest a Glossary?

She says the word ‘just’ and I cringe.

Something about that word, the way it frustrates and deceives, never quite used as intended, never fully revealing the truth.

She says, “Mom, you can just….” and “how about we just….” and, in her innocence, she believes the lie.

That this is easy.

I explain to her that despite the Pinterest headings on the pictures that promise “Simple,” “Easy,” DIY for beginners,” “Quick,” and “Painless….” her mom is in fact craft handicapped.

So, no we do not “just” snip, fold, twist, tuck, glue and ‘voila’…create masterpieces.11918590_s

In fact, these projects always seem to involve more effort, mistakes, mess, physical trauma, and failure than the pictures and the headings make you believe.

Dear Pinterest, may I suggest a glossary of terms for non-crafty folks like myself?  Perhaps a translation tool?  Or a handy dandy guide to assessing your actual ability to reproduce the adorable projects people post?

Maybe a “Warning Label?”

Like this:

“5 Easy steps..”:  Each step really includes 5 other sub-steps not included in the instructions because the writer assumed you’d be craft-smart enough to know without being told or shown.

“Simple….”:  This project is designed for people far more artistic than yourself.  For them, it is indeed “simple.”  For you, it will not be.  Consider yourself warned.

“For beginners…”:  These instructions are written by people who are not beginners and who have forgotten how ‘beginner’ Beginners really are.  Sure, it’s easy for them; they’ve been whipping out afghans, dresses, pillow cases, cakes, and wreaths for years.  You, however, are truly a beginner, still apt to burn your fingers with the glue gun and stab at your fingertips with a sewing needle.

And my favorite:

“Just”:  “Just” implies that the steps you’ll be given are simple, a snap, easy as 1-2-3.  But in reality, the instructions are long and involved, utterly confusing and complicated, and at some point will not work the way they are pictured or portrayed.

It’s not just the pitfall of arts and crafts.

It’s faith, too.

We forget sometimes that faith is hard.

We say, “just believe,” “just trust God,” “just hold on to the promises,” “just wait on Him,” “just keep praying….”

“Just,” that’s how we oversimplify when really it’s desperately difficult.

And rather than wade in waste deep to the muck and mire of messy faith, we stand on the shore and shout out pat phrases and cliches like ineffective life preservers.

Here’s what’s true:

Some days we’re going to mess up.

Sometimes God’s provision is hard to see, when the bills are crushing in and it’s one broken thing, one unexpected expense, one medical crisis after another after another.

Sometimes you can sit all day at that kitchen table with your Bible and journal, praying desperately for direction and still He remains silent for a season.

Some mornings you wake up believing implicitly that God has got this whole massive world tucked into the palm of His capable hands only to feel the earthquake threaten your faith foundation just ten minutes into the day after one tragic phone call or one message of hurt, pain, fear, and need.

Some days you want to give up because this calling is too hard and you can’t even see the tiniest bit of purpose or hope or sign that all this sacrifice is worth it.

This isn’t “Simple,” “5 Easy Steps,” “Just” faith.

This is real life faith.

This is where we’ve exhausted all of the belief we have and the circumstances haven’t changed, so we bring it to Jesus because we don’t even know where else to go.

And like the father in Mark 9, we pray:

“if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!”” (Verse 22, NASB).

God, if You can help me…

That’s what the father prayed, and Jesus reminded him: All things are possible to him who believes (verse 23).

Surely the desperate dad had heard the promise before.  He could have nodded his head complacently and pretended to “just believe” and “just have faith.”

Instead, he confessed the truth to Jesus:  “I do believe; help my unbelief” (verse 24).

I believe.  And yet, sometimes, Lord, it’s hard to believe.  If life were easy, faith would be easy.  But life isn’t and faith is hard.

That’s the truth.

This father prayed for mercy because he was human.  He doubted and struggled.

We confess this, too, and this is the assurance we receive:

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:13-14 NIV).

Dust.  That’s what we are: Small and dependent, near-sighted and earth-bound.

Have mercy on us, God.  Help our unbelief. 

That’s what we pray when life isn’t “simple” or “easy” or “just.”

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King