Rev. Norman Neaves told a wonderful story years ago when he was the pastor at Church of the Servant in Oklahoma City. It was about a devout Jewish woman named Mrs. Feinstein, who was really struggling to make ends meet in her life. One day when she was in the synagogue, she prayed to God and said, “Lord, you know how poor I am and how very much I need money. And you also know how faithful I am and how I come here every day to pray to you. So, Lord, I want to ask you a favor. I want you to help me win the lottery.” But when Mrs. Feinstein got through praying, there was nothing at all from the Lord – just dead silence.
The next day Mrs. Feinstein came back to the synagogue and prayed again. “Now, Lord,” she said, “I’m serious. I need help winning the lottery, for I am poor and desperately need money. Why haven’t you helped me yet?” But, again, the heavens were silent, and there was no reply from the Lord.
So, Mrs. Feinstein went back to the synagogue a third day, and this time she was really angry. “Lord, I’m sick and tired of this! I’ve been faithful to you! I’ve come here and prayed every day! And what has it gotten me? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Now, why haven’t you answered my prayer and helped me win the lottery?”
All of a sudden, the heavens shook, the synagogue trembled on its foundation, and bolts of lightning shot across the sky. And the Lord spoke and said, “Please give me a break, Mrs. Feinstein. At least go out and buy a lottery ticket.”
I’ve never bought a lottery ticket in my life, so take heart! I don’t share this story to assure you that God approves of the lottery. Rather, I tell it because it points out the fact that in order for God to work in our lives, we must meet God half-way.
As Christians under construction, we don’t just stand around and wait for the Lord to do something to us. We have to respond to God’s initiative in our lives. That response is faith, which in turn shows itself in good works. And it’s a life-long process. In the United Methodist tradition, the goal of the Christian life is sanctification, to be made holy after the pattern of Christ.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s last bit of advice is that construction is going to take more patience, perseverance, and determination to get through it than we ever dreamed.