A couple of weeks ago, I was convicted by a first century royal official from Capernaum.
My pastor is going through the Book of John and that particular week we were in John 4:43-54 which includes the story of this man. His son is very sick – at the point of death – so when he learns that Jesus is in Cana of Galilee, he makes the 16 mile trip to find Jesus and ask Him to come heal his son.
His specific request is “Sir, come down before my child dies.” But Jesus’ response is not to say “OK” and follow him back to Capernaum. Instead Jesus tells him, “Go your way; your son lives.” Then comes the part that convicted me: “The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he started off.”
Imagine that. You have walked 16 miles to ask Jesus to come heal your son. And instead He just tells you that he’s healed. What would you do? Would you insist instead that Jesus do it your way and come with you in person? Or would you believe but still insist Jesus come with you as a back-up plan? You know – just in case? Because what if you walk the 16 miles back and find out that he’s not healed. Do you walk the 16 miles again to find Jesus and this time make Him come with you? What this man did was even more amazing to me because of all that is on the line – the life of his son.
And that is where the conviction came. Would I have just believed Jesus’ word and walked?
I’ve never had a child near death and I sure have never walked 16 miles anywhere, but I ask Jesus for things all the time. How many times do I just believe His word and walk? Or do I insist He do it a certain way? Or do I not walk but just stand and worry because I don’t believe His word?
– When I am worried about money, will I believe that He will provide all my needs (Philippians 4:19) and walk?
– When I am fearful, will I believe that He is with me and will help me and uphold me (Isaiah 41:10) and walk?
– When I feel overwhelmed by my weaknesses, will I believe that His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) and walk?
– When I feel alone, will I believe that He will never leave or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5) and walk?
I add “and walk” because faith is active. Fear and doubt are paralyzing, but faith keeps moving. Abraham goes to a land he knows nothing about. Noah keeps building the ark. The Israelites keep walking around Jericho. Ruth goes to Bethlehem and gets to work in the fields. David slings a rock with a slingshot. If you don’t “walk”, how much do you really believe His word? Standing still, paralyzed in fear or doubt or shame or some other emotion, doesn’t take any faith at all. How many times do I say I believe His word, but my life shows that I really don’t because I’m not walking?
These are questions I have to ask myself. It was timely conviction. Recently when people ask how they can pray for me, I tell them to pray I will do the hard things. There are several things I know I need to do to keep moving forward in my personal life and in ministry, but they aren’t easy. How much does my lack of effort show my lack of faith?
Reading how the official “believed the word that Jesus spoke to him” reminded me of a book I read about 30 years ago called Faith is not a Feeling by Ney Bailey, one of the early staff members of Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru). In it, she defines faith as “taking God at His word”. And that is what this man did. He simply believed what Jesus said and acted on it.
Will I do the same?