I would like to retell a story that was a real blessing to me. I heard it from Thurman Scrivner on one of his teaching tapes. It may not be an absolutely faithful retelling, but I will do my best to keep the spirit of it.
A man, happily married for many years, decided one day that he wanted to increase his faith. So he prayed and asked God to give him a greater measure of faith. Satisfied that his prayer would be answered, he went to sleep. The next morning, his lovely wife rolled over and made a simple comment. He simply thought, “How dare she talk to me that way?”
The day began and again, she made a comment. “This woman is out of control!”
By the time a third innocent comment came out of her mouth, he completely lost it. “I’ve had it with your bickering and complaining! You always nag and talk to me so disrespectful! I’m leaving!”
His dear sweet wife simply asked, “We only have one car. How are you going to leave?”
To which he responded in exagerrated tones, “I’m taking the bicycle!”
With that he was gone. He rode that bicycle like it was a mad bull. Or was he the mad bull? He fussed and fumed, and the farther he rode, the madder he got. Eventually his adrenaline and anger gave out and he fell off the bike into a heap. He soon found himself in the bottom of a ditch covered with crawling ants. He jumped up and began to yell at God. “How dare you let this happen to me? I asked for more faith and here I am in a ditch covered with ants!”
He heard a very simple, quiet response. “You failed your test.”
As the truth of this statement sunk in, he fell on his knees and repented for his awful spirit. God was quick to forgive, as He always is.
But now the man was in a ditch, with no idea where he was, and nothing but a bicycle. He saw a gas station across the street, and began to make his way there, to get directions. But before he made it inside, a familiar car pulled in. It belonged to some friends of his. They saw him and rolled down their window. “What are you doing here? We were just on our way to visit you and your lovely wife!”
Yes, his dear lovely wife that he had yelled at and abandoned at home. His friends asked to follow him there to make sure they didn’t get lost. “Where’s your car, so we can follow you?”
“Well, I don’t have the car.”
“So how’d you get here?”
“I took the bicycle.” This response was, of course, as quiet as possible.
“You rode the bicycle? You’re 50 miles from home!”
But the gracious and loving God we serve not only sent friends to this dear man, but they were driving a truck that he could throw the bicycle in. When he reached his home, he immediately ran inside and begged his precious wife for forgiveness.
She simply responded, “I thought something funny was going on, so I just prayed for you the whole time.”
When we seek to grow in our faith, we must prepare ourselves. We seek to climb a hill, but our desire to climb the hill does not make that hill flat. Faith and growth comes with testing. We have a wonderful, loving God to help us when the testing comes, but the testing will come, all the same. Sometimes we will “fail,” and He will pick us back up so we can try again. But sometimes, we will remember to lean on Him, the author and perfector of our faith, and we will climb to greater heights of obedience and faith. But, no matter what, we must never stay in the ditch, covered with crawling ants!