I noticed James (not the real name) waiting for his turn to meet me. He is thin, short, and shy. He is quite by nature but always had a contagious smile. If you would like to tag him, “quite” and “peaceful” would be the most proper. He was one of the overseas students who was regular in my little congregation in this university town in India.
When his turn came, James stepped forward. In his typical faint voice, he asked me: “Pastor, can I have a word with you, outside?” I obliged. I followed him to the balcony. Leaning on the rails of the balcony, I stared at him to hear another big problem my little sheep is facing. It could be about a sickness that he suffers silently. It could also be a relationship problem. He might have spotted his girlfriend in the company of another man. It could be a problem in his far away home; Mom is sick or dad might have lost job. I was curious.
All my guesses were wrong. James’ problem appeared small to me. His house-rent is overdue for two months. Parents have not sent the money though they have promised! The landlord has issued the ultimatum of 48 hours. He must pay within two days. Otherwise, he will have to leave the house, leaving his little, and precious possessions behind.
I made quick calculations in my head to find out how much he owes his property owner. I produced an easy solution. I suggested that I will lend him the money now, so that he can avoid the evacuation. He can pay me when the parents send the money. So, I encouraged him, patted on his shoulder, and began to walk away to the other person waiting for me. But James stopped me. He said, “Pastor! I don’t want to borrow.” “I only need your prayer. Could you pray for me now that the money will come tomorrow.” Saying this he had already bowed his head in prayer.
“Of course!” I spoke. James bowed his head in faith but I in shame and embarrassment. Shame, because I did not think of the possibility of prayer. Embarrassed, because my sheep has outwitted me in his spiritual prowess. I muttered a prayer.
Just before the deadline set by his property owner, I called James. I wanted to find out if he received the money. Just wanted to know if prayer worked! If not, I was ready with my rescue plan.
James’ “hello” had a rim of joy as he picked up my call. “Yes pastor!” He said in a very jubilant tone. “Mom transferred the money online and I paid the rent,” he continued.
“Praise God,” I said in a subdued voice. I, the experienced, senior pastor felt guilty. Here is a young man who is full of faith. I depended on myself—in my ability to help the poor and needy. This young man, a new believer had faith full to the brim. He knew that something that I also knew but often ignored: God answers prayers.
That is how we define faith. Faith is trusting that things will go the way we expect because God is the mighty one. It is the trust in God’s power to act on our behalf.