African King, answer the Lord in own power, cannibals, change in His pocket, Churchill quote, Ephesians 5:15-17, failure, God sized opportunities, guns, ink pen, John 6:6, Mark 6:37, ministry in your own strength, money to make the problem go away, multiplication of faith, NASA, optimist, paradigm shift, pencil, pessimist, problem solving skills, Russians, send the people away, This is good, Wimber quote
When NASA began the launch of astronauts into space, they found out that their pens wouldn’t work at zero gravity. Ink won’t flow down to the writing surface without gravity. In order to solve this problem, they hired Andersen Consulting. One decade and 12 million dollars later they had developed a pen which worked in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on practically any surface, including crystal, and at a temperature range from below freezing to over 300 degrees C.
What did the Russians do? The Russians had the same problem, but they used a pencil!
Far too often we focus on problems and fail to see opportunities right in front of us. Winston Churchill once said: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; while an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” The same thing could be said of most believers. When problems and difficulties arise they fail to discern the God sized opportunities set before them. They whine and complain as if God doesn’t even exist. This verse in Ephesians reminds us to always be naturally supernatural.
Likewise the Lord tells us to be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17
Difficult times come to all. If we who follow the Lord desire to be wise, we must seek to discern the Lord’s will in all circumstances. Prayer shouldn’t be the last resort, but the first. Now for many this is a mind shift, or what commonly is called a paradigm shift.
If you’re like me, I was raised to be self-reliant and to work hard. If a problem presented itself, the wheels in my head naturally started to spin and I immediately went into “fix it” mode. I have struggled in seeking God first. My problem solving skills only further prevent God solutions from happening and exacerbate issues. Now more often than not, my problem is not with the problem itself, but with how I go about finding the solution. I have a natural tendency to exhaust all of my resources, all of my strength, and all of my ideas before I come to the Lord for His response.
I believe we are entering a new era where God is calling all His children to think and live supernaturally, instead of naturally. Perhaps He’s leading you along this line as well. And why not? He did this with His disciples time and time again. On one occasion after a long day of teaching, Jesus told His disciples it was their job to feed the people. When He did this He knew His disciples would fail. Would the Lord ever ask you to accomplish something in which He knows you cannot do it? Yes!
The disciples did exactly what I have done in the past… they sought to answer the Lord’s dilemma in their own power. They counted heads, checked their banking account, asked for donations, and then told Jesus to “send the people away.” Rather than seeing this as an opportunity for the Lord to work, they saw Jesus’ request as a problem they needed to dispose. Crowds always cause problems. Notice the pessimism of these men of faith. Mark 6:37 says,“it would take eight months of a man’s wages (to feed all these people)! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
Money always comes up first doesn’t it? How much money will it take to make the problem go away! They dove head-long into “fix-it” mode and not once asked the Lord, who was standing right there, what His thoughts were concerning the situation He created.
Thankfully, the Lord was persistent as He always is these situations… His plan was simply to feed the people with the provisions God had already provided… namely three loaves of bread and two fish. Sending the people away required no faith, no solution and no sacrifice of resources on the disciple’s part. Hey, they didn’t even have to pray about it.
Listen to the words of someone who has had to learn this lesson the hard way… The Lord doesn’t simply want to bless other people through you… He desires to bless you as well. He knows you cannot solve the problems He brings your way. You are not supposed to accomplish ministry in your own strength. The Lord desires all His disciples to be naturally supernatural.
How can I say this so definitively? I can say it, because Jesus Himself said it. In John’s account, it says that “Jesus asked (them this question) to test them, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.” John 6:6
Now, why in the world would Jesus ask the disciples a question in which He already had the answer? Why would He put His disciples through an exercise when He had already predetermined the outcome?
Well, the answer is not as difficult as you might think… He wants to change His followers in the process. The multiplication of food is a grand miracle. The multiplication of the disciple’s faith is even a greater miracle. Changed men is always better than changed food.
An African king had a long time friend who always looked at everything positively. He always was saying “This is good!” even in the face of the most difficult situations. Hunting one day, he was preparing the king’s guns. When the king took his first shot, his thumb was blown off. Though the friend realized that it was his grave mistake for not properly setting the gun, and even in the face of this furious, bleeding king, he looked at him and said, “This is good!” The king was livid, and ordered that his friend be thrown immediately in jail.
A year later the king was hunting in an area where he should have stayed clear and was captured by Cannibals. They tied him up and were preparing to cook him, when they realized he had no thumb. They didn’t eat anyone who was less than whole. They released him. Upon his way home, the king pondered the event which had taken his thumb in the first place. He went straight to the jail, told his friend what happened and apologized in tears for sending him to jail in anger. His enthusiastic friend looked at the King and replied “This is good!”
The king, taken aback once again said “What do you mean ‘this is good!’ I sent you mercilessly to jail and you’ve been suffering here for an entire year – how is this good?” His friend responded unwaveringly, “Well, if I had not been in jail, I would have been with you!”