This morning as I was sitting in a chair when Elizabeth came up to me with a request. She wanted me to “fix the batteries” on her remote control truck. We had bought her and Andrew a remote control truck at a thrift shop for their birthday and although it is designed for older kids they still enjoy running it around. Elizabeth proceeded to tell me all the tools needed to “fix the batteries” and how to do it. She said we needed a screw, hammer, and a few other things. She even specified that they needed to be orange. She has an orange set of Black and Decker play tools that I’m sure she was referring to. It was quite cute listening to here explain the problem and the solution for it.
After listening to her and then watching her go to find the tools needed. I simply walked to the kitchen with the truck. As I walked into the kitchen I saw the spoons that my wife has in the lazy Susan for stirring coffee and tea. I grabbed on of the spoons and with the handle turned the lock on the battery compartment of the truck and pulled out the dead battery pack. I then found the charger and plugged everything into the wall to be charged.
If you haven’t noticed, Elizabeth’s logic and method were quite different than mine. I smiled and chuckled to myself as I completed this simple task and thought of three ways that this applies spiritually. First, I wonder how often God feels the same way about us? We think we have everything figured out and so we have a plan of action that is complicated, color coded, and categorized. God, in is infinite wisdom, does what needs to be done in what to us is a surprising way. Elizabeth’s method was much different than mine and often my method is much different than God’s. The tools that Elizabeth thought were necessary I didn’t even look for or use. Often the things that I think are important God thinks that they are unnecessary. Why do I worry and try to figure everything out and then pray for an answer? I should instead begin by asking God for wisdom and leave the details to Him.
The Second lesson I saw was this, although we don’t get things out just right, God knows what we mean. In Romans 8 we are told that we cannot pray as we ought and so the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us with groaning's that cannot be uttered. Elizabeth's request to fix the battery was really a request to charge the battery. I knew what she was asking for even though she couldn’t express it. Why do we get so concerned with the verbiage and wording of our prayers? I remember once being “corrected” for not addressing the right remember of the God-Head in my prayer by a fellow college student. The truth is God knows exactly what I mean and the right Person of the God-Head knows who I am addressing. This can also be see in the conversion of Augustine. The American theologian and author James Freeman Clarke from the 1800’s explained,
In his Confessions, Augustine relates that when as a young man, having expressed a purpose to visit Rome, his mother remonstrated, and prayed earnestly that he might be prevented from going, her reason being that she feared the effect upon the young man of the temptations and vices with which the great city abounded.
He went, however, and during his stay there was converted to Christianity under the preaching of St. Ambrose. Augustine writes that her prayer was answered, though not in its outward form, but in its inward heart. What she really prayed for was that he might be saved from the ways of sin. (Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996).)
Our God is big enough and wise enough to know exactly what we are asking for and the best way to answer that prayer. That does not mean that we cannot take the details that we see and lay them before God, but it does mean that we don’t have to be overly concerned about the language we use in prayer. Prayer is as simple as a conversation with another person and it should be our constant personal source of communication with God (alongside our Bible reading).
Third, I realized that although there are tools better equipped for a task God uses those who are clean and surrendered. 1 Corinthians tells us that God is in the business of using the simple to confound the wise. The best tool to open the battery compartment on Elizabeth’s truck was a screw driver, but I used a spoon handle. Why did I use a spoon? It was available and ready for the task at hand. The spoon was not designed to be a screwdriver, but it worked. I want to be careful here when equating this to God. I was to lazy to find the right tool, but God is not lazy. God simply delights in confounding the wise and strong of this world with weak things. There are many more qualified, smarter, organized, and educated people who could be pastoring Oregon Trail Baptist Church. To be honest I am completely inadequate for the task. God uses those who are clean (have confessed all known sin) and surrendered. God does not force anyone to serve Him.
God’s ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts.
God knows my heart and is not limited to the words that come out of my mouth.
God uses those who make themselves available to Him regardless of their strength or weakness.
In short I observed that….