Monday, February 13, 2006

Faith Vs. Wishful Thinking

When Rick graduated from West Point Academy he was assigned to Ft. Gordon, Georgia. It was his first Sunday in Augusta when I met him.

He was a sharp young lieutenant, bright, eager, and excited about the promising career that awaited him. As we chatted following the morning service at the church I was pastoring I asked, “Do you have a wife?”

Without hesitation he responded, “Yes, Sir, I do.”

And where is she now?” I continued.

“I’m not sure about that, Sir,” Rick answered. “I haven’t met her yet.”

Noting my puzzled expression Rick explained. “I’ve been praying for a good wife, and God has given me the assurance He has one all picked out for me. I’m just waiting to meet her.”

It was only a few weeks later on another Sunday morning that Rick and I were talking again in the church lobby.

Enter Edie.

The charming Southern belle from Savannah was a recent university graduate who had just arrived in Augusta to continue her education at the Medical College of Georgia. I introduced myself to her as the pastor, and then introduced her to Rick.

The chemistry between them seemed just right. Rick and Edie’s immediate attraction for each other soon resulted in friendship and within weeks the two became a couple. Before the year was out friendship turned to love, and they asked me to officiate at their wedding. Today they are in process of living happily ever after.

Rick’s faith perfectly illustrates the Biblical definition: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1.

Contrast Rick with another young man I’ll call Ralph. In his late twenties Ralph had a good job, was musically talented and was a faithful church member. He was also bashful.

Ralph used to stop by my office from time to time. On several occasions he asked me to pray for him to find a wife. I did – but Ralph never even had a date.

One afternoon I suggested to Ralph that he consider Jesus’ words: “Ask and it will be given you; see and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7.

“It’s not enough to just ask God for a wife,” I explained. “You’ve got to do some seeking; you’ve got to go knock on some girl’s door.”

His response was a long monologue about why he never had an opportunity to meet anyone. Having heard enough excuses I offered to help him compose a classified ad for the newspaper. It went something like this: “SWM, 28, Christian, shy, enjoys music and outdoor activities, seeks SWF for friendship.”

The ad appeared a few days later and in two weeks I saw Ralph again. “did you get any response to your ad?” I asked.

Ralph said he had received about five letters.

“Have you met any of them yet?” I was anxious to know. “Are there any good prospects?’

Ralph told me he had not called any of the women who had answered his ad and he didn’t intend to do so. “I got to thinking it over,” he said, “and I don’t believe I’d be interested in anyone who would respond to a lonely hearts ad in the newspaper.”

Unless a very aggressive woman targets him, Ralph could die a lonely old man. Faith works. But what Ralph calls faith is really only wishful thinking.

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