That Answer Can't Be Right!
A newspaper quiz asked: What part of the world produces the most food per square mile? I thought of the rich farmlands of the American midwest. No, too obvious an answer. I decided it would be a warm area with lots of rain--perhaps the Amazonian rain forest or the pineapple farms of Hawaii. Maybe a rice-growing region in Southeastern Asia or a highly specialized place such as a catfish farm in Mississippi. It had to be a place along those lines--a hot, sunny, rainy place.
Not so. According to them, the region that produces the most food per square mile is the ocean around Antarctica! The food produced there is microscopic plankton, something that is not on my menu. Even so, that such a place could be so productive does not make sense within my limited understanding of biology. It got me thinking again about God and his design of our world.
God uses places we would overlook. With all the universe to choose from, he picked a barn in an obscure back-country Roman province as the birthplace for his son.
God uses things we think would not be valuable. The jawbone of a donkey became an avenging weapon in Samson’s hands and he killed a thousand men (Judges 15). Donkey jawbones are not in the Pentagon’s budget, but God is the creator of creativity who can do anything with anything; he does as he chooses.
God had a donkey talk to Balaam (Num. 22), ravens bring bread and meat to Elijah (1 Kings 17), and a dove with a fresh olive leaf in its beak bring hope to Noah (Gen. 8:6-12).
Jesus’ disciples looked at the five thousand hungry men and calculated that they would need a pile of food the size of a house to feed them. The five loaves and two fish they had were worthless to meet the need they thought until Jesus took them, blessed them, and fed the throng (Mark 6:30-44). Later Jesus fed four thousand with five loaves (Mark 8:1-21). What was thought to be insignificant became, in the hands of faith, worthy and sufficient.
The cross, as cruel an instrument of slow death as ever devised by sadistic men, was used to make possible life--life to the full (John 10:10)--for all who will believe. The weapon of the executioner has become our symbol of life. That is remarkably odd to the natural mind, but not in the reconstructing plan and power of our sovereign Lord.
God uses people we think could not be useful. Would you have chosen a prostitute for a trusted task? God advanced the work of his kingdom on earth through the Old Testament harlot, Rahab, who became a woman of faith listed with Abraham, Moses, Samuel, and others in the “Honor Roll of Saints” (Hebrews 11).
If you were on the search committee to find someone to inspire the Israelites to leave Egypt would you have chosen a man who fled the land after committing murder? Would you choose a shepherd hiding in a foreign land to defy the Egyptian armies? Would you choose a man who has difficulty talking (Gen. 4:10) to confront the king of Egypt? God chose Moses.
If you were selecting someone to introduce the world beyond Jerusalem to Christianity would you have picked the most feared persecutor of Christians? But Saul the terrorist became Paul the evangelist, the man who stood and watched as Stephen was beaten to death with rocks wrote the definitive essay on love (1 Cor. 13).
Dear God, my resources seem weak and ordinary, my gifts so meager, my commitment is often shallow, my determination weak, and my self-control limited. Do I have anything you can use? If so, take it. If I can be part of your cause, I will. I want to praise you through word and deed. Amen.
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Jesus said, “With God all things are possible” (Mt. 19:26).