Henry Sloane Coffin, formerly pastor of the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York, once shared the true story of an elderly couple who had moved from North Carolina to Oklahoma. Purchasing a small farm they eked out a modest living year after year working the land. All their effort did provide for their basic needs but little else. One day some men arrived on their property and asked the woman for a drink from a well that she and her husband had dug. She was surprised to see them take some of the water away in a bottle. Later the same men return and offered the couple a sum that seemed generous and it was accepted. A pipe was driven down between the house and the barn, and the quantity of the flow of oil was the talk of the town. The woman was overheard saying to her husband: “To think that we slaved here for years, and all this was at our doorstep, and we never knew it.”
Coffin asks that we discover in this story a glimpse of what it is for Christians to say with their lips that they trust in Jesus Christ but continue to live as if there is no God. There isn’t any concerted effort to know God, no intentional strategy to become more like Christ. The result is that we plod through life by our own strength expecting nothing more than what our efforts can produce. So preoccupied with managing our daily affairs we never dig deep into the resources of our faith to discover that very present with us is the uncommon power of Jesus waiting to be released in our lives.
It is tragically possible to be a member of the church all of one’s life and never discover the riches of the faith. Yet, God’s power for conquering all the struggles and difficulties that life seem to lavish upon each of us remains at our doorstep. And every day we make an excuse for not engaging in a process for growing in Jesus we struggle in poverty-stricken godlessness.