Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Story Time

The following is from a recent sermon given by Richard Faiola (MD ABFM). The first section is an internet story by an unknown author the second half was written by Dr. Faiola. This actually gives both sections equal credibility.

This morning I wish to deal with a quite subtle way in which Christians misrepresent both reality and their God – and this they do while believing they are promoting his kingdom.

I want you to listen to a typical “Christian Story” – the kind that circulates continually on the internet with the closing admonition to “pass it on.” The first part I have condensed a bit, the second I made up myself.


Brenda was a young woman that wanted to learn rock climbing. She was scared, but felt confidence in the Lord’s protection.

Well, she got to a ledge where she could take a breather. As she rested, the rope jerked in some way against her that her contact lens snapped out.

Of course, she looked and looked and looked -- And she prayed that the Lord would help her to find her contact.

When she got to the top of the cliff she looked out and thought, "Lord, You can see all these mountains. You know every single stone and leaf that's on those mountains and You know exactly where my contact lens is.”

Finally, they walked down the trail to the bottom. Just as they got there, a new party of rock climbers came along. As one of them started up the face of the cliff, she shouted out, "Hey, you guys! Anybody lose a contact lens?"

Well, that would be startling enough, wouldn't it? She had found the contact lens!

But you know why she saw it? An ant was carrying that contact lens so that it was moving slowly across the face of the rock reflecting a few rays of sun.

When Brenda told her father this incredible story, he drew a cartoon of that ant lugging that contact lens with the words: "Lord, I don't know why You want me to carry this thing. I can't eat it and it's awfully heavy. But if this is what You want me to do, I'll carry it for You."

That is a true story. What does that tell you about the God of the universe? Is He in charge of the tiniest things? If God is in charge of the ants, don't you think He cares about you and me?

A prudent, preacher, would probably stop there and look expectantly for a chorus of “amens.” But, then I am seldom accused of being prudent in such matters.


Brenda, after having recovered her contact lens in such a remarkable way, went on to attend a Bible College. She met and married Joe, a youth Pastor.

They embarked on a successful ministry to a growing band of enthusiastic young people. Answered prayer was a centerpiece of their worship. The youth often shared how the Lord had blest them in recalling a difficult test question; making it the last mile to a station before their gas ran out; in finding just the right boyfriend or girlfriend.

After two years of marriage, Brenda and Joe felt it might be the Lord’s will that they have a baby. She discontinued her use of the Pill and began to pray about it. The youth group prayed.

When in about 6 months she conceived they all rejoiced at this answer to their prayers. In due time, a healthy baby boy was born. They named him Samuel to recognize him as a gift from God and dedicated him to the Lord.

Brenda and Joe and their youth group made the growth and development of Samuel a matter of regular prayer. His successful weaning from the breast, his first steps, his potty training all occurred within several weeks of their first prayers regarding those developmental milestones.

One summer day, when Samuel was about 3 years old, he was out joyously splashing in his shallow wading pool. Brenda had been very careful to let the sun warm the water, before placing him in it. She could watch him from the kitchen window.

While reflecting on the many blessings God had specially prepared for her and Joe, the phone rang. It was one of the girls in the youth group. Her parents were fighting and she needed encouragement. Brenda shared her faith with the troubled teen and they prayed together over the phone, confident that God would work on behalf of the reconciliation of the parents.

On returning her attention to the window, Brenda's breath froze. She could not see Samuel. Instinctively she feared the worst. She prayed, in succession, that the water she had put in the pool had leaked out; that the face down baby she found would breathe when turned over; that the paramedics would resuscitate the baby; that after 2 weeks on a respirator the words "brain dead" would be taken back; that the Lord would revive their lifeless son- His child.

For weeks Brenda's nights were disturbed by the absurd sight of an ant carrying her contact lens.

Where was God and His ants when they really needed Him?

The skeptical had always suggested that most of the things they were grateful for and had credited to God's special action on their behalf (or on behalf of the young people they loved so much) had been the routine, expected results of normal effort, timing, circumstance, or coincidence.

People of no faith at all, do, after-all, have babies, find their keys, or pass their exams.

Occasionally, they win at the gambling casino, escape the consequences of a drug overdose, or narrowly escape being found in the wrong bed. They seldom, except in profanity, credit such good luck to the hand of God. Nor do most believers credit God with arraigning the good fortune of the “undeserving.”

Because Brenda and Joe could not understand, respect, or love a god that cared more about her lost contact lens then about their son, they left the ministry. The loss, the guilt, and the recriminations strained and finally broke their marriage. Joe took to hanging around bars, drinking too much, and taking home strange women.

One evening, half drunk, he bet a buddy he could hit a bull’s eye on the bar room wall with a single dart, thrown left-handed.

To the amazement of all, he hit it!

He took his $50.00 next door and bought 50 lottery tickets. Latter that night the winning numbers were displayed on the bar room TV screen. Everyone crowded around to watch and to help Joe check his tickets. For the second time in one night there was amazement as Joe, and several others crowded around him, recognized a winning ticket.

Everyone wished to see the ticket for themselves. In the gleeful, grabbing melee, the ticket was dropped -- and just disappeared.

Joe was furious. No one could (or would?) produce the ticket. Joe blocked the front door. He insisted on searching everyone. The barkeep swept the floor. The soles of shoes were checked. Pockets were turned out. Joe became more and more angry, and the other patrons less and less sympathetic.

Joe cursed. He swore at his friends and at strangers. He cursed a God he no longer believed in. He got pushy; others pushed back. A fight broke out.

Joe was punched hard in the abdomen. He went down. In a fluke of bad timing another fighting patron wishing only to strike a menacing pose was lifting up a broken beer bottle. Joe fell into its path. His left carotid artery was severed as he fell.

As he lay on the bar room floor, winded, and bleeding profusely, he looked towards the bar. There, a group of ants were working to remove an obstacle from their path. Before loosing consciousness, Joe recognized his lottery ticket.

---------------End Story------------

The first part of the story sounded so pious. The exemplary kind of religious faith that is often held up as a model, but it is neither reasonable, reliable, nor redemptive to us -- or those around us.

Thinking persons, contact lenses notwithstanding, have long ago concluded that the balance of abundance vs want,joy vs sorrow, health vs illness, love vs malice
–and we know those conditions will only get worse favors the conclusion that God either does not exist, is absent from his Creation, or is ineffective.

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