Have you ever prayed that way? Have you ever started with, “God, if you’ll just give me a sign to show me what you want me to do…”?
It’s generally not a pretty sight. That kind of prayer usually is accompanied by weeping and the kind of anguish that comes from our bad decisions and/or circumstances way beyond our pay grade.
You have probably heard the old story about the guy that was chased up to the roof of his house when the flood came. He prayed for the Lord to save him, and he had such great faith that when the first couple of rescue boats and an emergency helicopter came by he told the FEMA workers, “You go help someone else; God is gonna rescue me.” But the waters kept rising. The guy drowned, went to heaven and stood before the Lord. He whined, “Why didn’t you save me like you promised?” Jesus said, “Nimrod, I sent two boats and a helicopter for you.”
The Pharisees wanted a sign, some kind of proof that Jesus really was the Messiah, God’s promised Savior. He refused; he flat out told them they could hold their collective breath and they’d never get a “sign”.
Why did he do that?
Maybe Jesus thought they needed to practice a little faith, rather than seeing.
When Elizabeth and I were in seminary (during the stone-age), we were, like most student families, broke. Church mice lived higher on the hog! I worked as a teller in a local bank and Elizabeth cleaned houses on campus. With the support of family and friends back home, the ends came near meeting…sometimes.
Each new term brought a new financial test of faith. The cost of registration was about $275 and that was a lot of money for a part time bank teller. My paycheck was once a month, and just a little more than $600.
One such time it was still a week or more until payday. Registration was on a Monday, and we had six cents left in the checking account. When it came time to sign-up for classes I was reading the paper. Elizabeth reminded me it was time to go; I said, “Why?”
She said, “C’mon”. I went.
We breezed through picking out classes for the term (although for me, it was just an exercise in futility….we had no money, and they didn’t let you take classes based on your smile.)
When we got to the end (just before the cashier), I headed for the door. Elizabeth said, “Where are you going?” I said, “Home”.
“You need to pay at the registrar’s booth.” “With what?”
“Didn’t you bring the checkbook?”
This was the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back….I was a bank teller; in Louisiana they put you in jail for bouncing a check when you’re a bank teller.
I answered firmly: “NO”!
“Go get it”. “Are you jok….”
“Go get it, Russell Jay.”
“There’s only six cents in the account.”
“Go get it anyway.”
When I got back to the mobile home on Providence Place and secured the empty checkbook, I noticed the mail had come. I also noticed the pale green envelope; we’d seen those before. Our Sunday School class from back home had struck again. Their love offering covered our tuition, books and a celebration lunch at Burger King.
It’s a pretty sad tale here, a future pastor living on Providence (God provides) place, doubting instead of trusting every step of the way.
But that’s how we learn. Signs are over-rated; faith is how God’s children walk!
Will this be one of those “praying for a sign” days?
Or will you walk by faith?