The Rev. Melissa Hollerith
Today’s Gospel: John 4:43-54
Most of us have heard stories of folks who have had “foxhole” conversions. The man is on the front lines, bullets are flying overhead, mortars are exploding all around him, and he is terrified of dying. He thinks back to his home church where people are praying for him every day, although it has been years since he has darkened the doors of the sanctuary. He cries out a prayer, “Lord, let me live through this, and I will follow you for the rest of my life.” The Lord answers his prayer and brings him safely through the conflict.
The true test of the man’s faith though is not how sincere his shouting prayer to the Lord was in the midst of war. No, the real test of his faith is measured by what he does when he isn’t terrified. Does he forget and go back to his old ways? Or, does he go deeper and commit to develop a sincere faith that is not based on his immediate needs or a crisis?
This of course applies to all of us who have found ourselves crying out to the Lord in an emergency. I am certainly guilty of that “foxhole” mentality from time to time. A health issue or two has made me barter with God for healing, and of course I naively promise I won’t bother him again for a while and will continue to be a faithful servant. And then, before I know it, I am going to our Lord with all manner of requests, my emergencies are both big and small. Just last month I prayed in a begging way for a friend’s child to make a sports team. To most that seems so frivolous, but as someone who works with teenage boys, I knew just what that acceptance would mean for his self-esteem. I think the Lord understands too.
The issue isn’t whether we run to our Lord to heal our ill child like the royal official did in our reading. The Lord says to come to him in prayer for all things. The greater issue is how faithful do we stay, how close do we cling to our Lord every day? How eager are we to develop a deep faith and not one that is simply marked by our crises? That’s where the hard work lies–in the daily walk.
Day by day
Oh Dear Lord
Three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day
By: Saint Richard of Chichester, 13th-century English bishop