I must tell you this story concerning a man and his wife. This story has at its center an encounter that altered their lives.
With a story such as this, I feel it is best told by omitting much of the large volume of their previous history. I am able to develop a first rate picture of that history in your head by the simple sentence that follows. They were a highly unpretentious couple endowed with extremely good and kind hearts. The couple’s names are George and Brenda.
I shall begin at the point in the story when George has just arrived home from a routine day of work on the very day that was to change their lives.
George sat down in his easy chair to watch the news just as he did every night after work. His wife cooking dinner as he sat watching all the horror the news had to offer. Oblivious to all else, he did this more out of habit than interest. As I have related previously, George was a good man, as was his wife Brenda a good woman. They did their duty by attending church on Sunday as good Christians do. They prayed, they served, they tithed, and they did their duty as good Christians do - until this particular evening altered their lives from this point in time forward.
There was a soft knock on the door. George was brought grudgingly back to the real world of the active by the knock. A bit miffed, he bellowed” Brenda, you expecting anyone?”
She replied with an inquisitive, “No,” as she turned in his direction with an anticipatory smile.
George slowly stood while uttering a guttural grumble that revealed an interrupted nightly routine, “who comes around at dinner time?” He walked to the door opening it with a perturbed look on his face to see a simple dressed, middle age man before him in a pair of jeans and a pullover knit shirt with a pleasant smile upon his face. Though dressed simply, the man was a somewhat out of the ordinary, not that George noticed or cared dressed in his grumpy mood. “What can I do for you? We’re in the middle of dinner.”
The man kept the pleasant smile and in a soft non-threatening voice said, “Evidently, I can do something for you.”
George stared at the man with the look of a mechanic, which was his profession, dissecting an engine in his head. “Ok, what can you do for me?” The reply was spoken with a facetious tone.
The man, in a voice that exposed a quantity of disappointment, answered, “Have you forgotten so soon?”
“Forgotten what?” George shot back.
The man never wavering in his even, calm attitude and smile, said, “What you prayed as you sat in church last Sunday.”
George immediately yelled, “Brenda, did you put me on some kind of church prayer list? Then threw his head around toward the man quickly, Wait - you’re not a Mormon are you? No, you’re not dressed like one. Brenda, did you?” Though kind and good-hearted, he had the straight forward, no nonsense personality of a mechanically oriented mind.
“No, why?” she shouted back.
“Never mind!” he blurted, now, in a half- angry mood.
The man chuckled under his breath listening to George’s queries. “George, you prayed to become a better servant to me. Does that help you? Surely, you were not trifling with me. You prayed with such passion, such feeling and love.”
This is the point at which George’s mouth became a garage door open wide enough for a car to fit into. He said in a half yell, half startled voice, “Brenda, come here…now!”
Brenda recognized the tone George was using. She came at a fast walk. “What’s the matter?” she said.
“I want you here to witness that I am not insane. Sir, just who the heck are you?” he stammered.
The man said, still with that disarming smile and that tender voice , “You asked and I am here to talk with you about ways in which you can better serve me.”
“How can you know what I prayed? I prayed that in silence. I never mentioned that to anyone. Is this some kind of joke?” George was becoming very concerned. He talked as much to himself as to the man before him.
The man then spoke the heart stopping words, “Take heart, for it is I. Do not be afraid.”
“I! I who?”
“I am he, to whom you prayed,” the man spoke in a soft and very heartfelt way.
Both, George and Brenda, began to notice his eyes; eyes that emanated a tender, almost surreal, glow. They looked at each other with a rising belief mixed with a pinch of cynicism. George accusingly said, “Are you a con artist or a member of some cult or just plain crazy?”
The man’s smile and tone changed with those words to one of stalwart authority, “George and Brenda, it is I, your Lord. I have stated, ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find. You ask in prayer, yet your faith is shallow. Did I not say I would hear and answer all prayers, even those prayed only in your heart?”
At this moment, George and Brenda began their descent into fear. Their reaction was to end this encounter with the bizarre man positioned in the doorway before them. His voice showing signs of softening, “We’re about to sit down to dinner. We’re going to have to go.”
Five years have passed since that evening. George and Brenda are relating this story at a get-together of Sunday school members after church. As a writer, I am taking notes in clear spaces on the church itinerary. Everyone at the table has gone from semi-listening to becoming enthralled. I slowly comprehend the waiter standing at my back listening spellbound with his mouth agape to George’s storytelling.
In examining George and Brenda for a short time, you will see the holy spirit radiating outwardly from deep within. Yes, they eventually they let our Lord in that evening. He profoundly changed their life, which, good before, now became truly lived in the Kingdom.
How often do we pray never expecting or possibly not believing we will receive a reply or a solution.
I pray we all have the faith we must possess to understand our Father’s reply to a plea for help or solutions, and to recognize him when he calls at our door. In the interim, just doing our duty brings us closer to the kingdom of heaven than we realize. Who is greater in the eyes of our Lord than his children that do the things he commands without complaint or notice day after day.
And Jesus answered and said to them, "Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will happen. "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." (Matthew 21:22 NIV)