A Skip, a Trip, and an Occasional Stumble
by Ramona Richards
I am someone who often comes across as having a rock-solid faith. But, like many other Christians I know, my faith journey has been tumultuous, a roller coaster of highs and lows, mountain tops and valleys. Moments of great reassurance . . . and hollows of stupendous doubt.
Which is why I once taped a small piece of paper to my office telephone, where I would see it all day long: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 NKJV)
I have been a firm believer in prayer since I was a child, and God has answered more than I can number. But many of my prayers have gone unanswered, and at times, I knew God was silent because of my own actions. I am an intellectual believer—I’m not much for leaps of faith—and when I once prayed for God to put me into a place so that I could learn more about Him, I wound up as a Bible project editor for Thomas Nelson. Studying Scripture became my job, and I dug in deep, learning more than I ever thought possible. It was a job that quite literally saved my faith and my life.
Yet I still had a lot of questions and doubts, which is why that verse wound up on my telephone. I once asked my boss—who was also a pastor—if God disliked all the questions. I will never forget his response: “If we do not question, we do not grow. If we do not study the Word for ourselves, we will always accept someone else’s explanation. God gave us a sense of curiosity about Him and His world for a reason.”
This is also the man who told me it was alright to fall asleep while praying. I wondered if it was disrespectful, but he assured me that “No Father minds having a loving child fall asleep in His arms.”
That question had come up because exhaustion had become a way of life. “Struggling” does not even touch how difficult my life was. At the time, I was grieving the loss of a marriage and most of my dreams. I was the single mom of a daughter with severe disabilities, whose daycare was across town from my full-time job. I got up at 4:30, left the house at 6:00, got home at 6:30, and still had all the evening routines for her care to complete. I was drained, financially and emotionally, and I often fell asleep trying to pray around 11:30 or so. Once, kneeling by her bed, I fell so soundly asleep mid-prayer that I spent most of the night on my knees. The next day was . . . interesting.
The struggles—financial, physical, emotional, mental—often became so choking I could not see a future. Numb, I could barely make it through the present. And yet, that verse called to me, and I called to God. “Just get me through this. That’s all I ask.” And He always did.
He knew the future; I did not. So from Mark 9:24, I learned first to ask, then to trust. I came to believe that God never leaves us, and He understands our struggles and our doubts. I saw in Scripture where He forgave Moses, Peter, David and other servants who tripped and occasionally fell in their faith journey. God always sees the “big picture” of our lives and is less concerned with our failures than our determination to get up and try again.
For which I am grateful. Because I still fall. A lot. Both physically, mentally and spiritually. I stumble, I question, I pray.
And while I no longer have Mark 9:24 taped on my phone, I do have it ingrained in my head. Because, as Max Lucado once wrote, “God never said that the journey will be easy, but he did say that the arrival will be worthwhile.” 
A hope I cling to each and every day.
 quote from Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm and the Applause of Heaven Two Inspirational Classics in One Volume
Ramona Richards is a 40-year publishing veteran who has worked for Thomas Nelson, Abingdon Press, and Iron Stream Media. She writes devotions, nonfiction, and fiction, and is the author of 18 books, including My Mother’s Quilts: Devotions of Love, Legacy, Family and Faith. Her latest novel is Circle of Vengeance, part of the Star Cavanaugh Cold Case Series.