Monday, April 15, 2024
Reel Life Journeys

We walk by faith, despite our human needs for guarantees

Based upon the Gospel reading in John 20:19-31.

Jerry Maguire is despondent.

A professional agent of professional athletes, Maguire (Tom Cruise) works hard to secure big dollar contracts and endorsement deals for his clients. Without rest, he does whatever and says whatever it takes to make his clients rich.

Lately, however, he has become to hate his place in the world.

Should he follow his heart, which tells him that the best direction is less money and more attention to others; or should he continue to play the sales and manipulation games, despite how they are turning his life into a shallow, meaningless nightmare?

His instincts tell him to follow his heart, to once again become his father’s son. But this path comes with big price tags—he loses his job, his fiancé and nearly all his clients.

He hangs on to one client, flashy football player Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.), so Maguire works hard to drum up endorsement opportunities and negotiate a new contract for his client.

“Show me the money,” shouts Tidwell over the phone, wanting a guarantee, some physical evidence that his future is secure. Maguire wants the same guarantee for his client and for himself, but faces mounting expenses and scant income.

Blinded by the allure of fame and fortune, Tidwell plays football with a chip on his shoulder, too concerned over what he should be paid and what other people should do for him.

Maguire challenges him to play the game with passion, with a faith that all will work out. Once he does this, Tidwell reaches a level of success and earns the contract he desires.

Maguire learns a lesson at the same time. While his client’s success is important to him and his company, it isn’t a complete success. It’s not “nearly close to being in the same vicinity as complete” because he is not able to share the success with his wife.

Once he does, he achieves a special kind of success and is comfortable again with his place in the world.

• • •

Thomas is doubtful.

He is not present with the other disciples when the Risen Lord first visits them in the locked room. Once frightened and afraid, they are now happy and at ease, for they have seen the Lord with their own eyes. But Thomas is still afraid, still uncertain about his safety and his future.

“Show me the marks from the nails in his hands and let me touch his side,” he says to his friends. Thomas wants a guarantee, some physical evidence before he will believe the good news that Jesus has conquered death and once again walks among them.

Later, when Jesus visits the disciples again, he shows Thomas his hands and asks him to touch the wounds. This act gives Thomas the proof he desired.

“Have you come to believe because you have seen me?” said Jesus. Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

• • •

Tommy is uncertain.

For our son, a senior in high school, the future is rapidly approaching for him and his classmates. “Where should I go to college? What should I study? Who will I room with? When do I have to decide? Why is it so hard to decide?” There are so many questions and uncertainties at this age.

Yet we know that he is not ignoring the questions or passively letting his options go by without a thought. He’s involved with school retreats and SEARCH weekends, a great time to look inside for answers.

“Show me the path, Lord,” he prays as I imagine him during a recent SEARCH weekend. He’s looking for an answer, a decision, a solid path to travel in the future.

If only it was as easy as calling a phone number and getting directions.

Our children often call for directions when driving out of town or navigating Nashville’s confusing street names. When I know they are traveling and my phone rings, I always answer with “DadStar, may I help you?” I imagine them shaking their heads at their silly father, yet pleased that they could reach me for guidance.

Unfortunately, there are no hotlines to the future, no guarantees on the paths and highways of life. All we can do is pray to God to walk beside us and guide us.

It’s been thousands of years since people looked into Jesus’ face, spoke to him or touched his hands and side. Yet his life and his love live on through the Holy Scriptures, the sacraments and in each member of our church. Through him we have become a people of faith.

It calls to mind the words of the hymn written by Henry Alford in 1844:“We walk by faith, and not by sight; no gracious words we hear from him who spoke as none e’er spoke, but we believe him near.”


Chris Fenoglio answers DadStar calls on his cell phone for lost friends and family members. Contact Chris by leaving a comment for this post. Originally published in the March 23, 2008 issue of The Tennessee Register.

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