Authored by Tina Kapp
Some years ago, I made a trip to Paidha, Uganda, to teach Bible classes to a group of students. I took along some Christian books and articles I wanted to use in my classes, with plans to give a class on the theme of letting God work through us. A topic very dear to my heart, as I find it encouraging when the Lord chooses unexpected people to do His work, and then helps them to not only do it, but to do it brilliantly!
Moses complained to the Lord that he wasn’t a very good speaker, yet God chose him to be the one who would lead the Jews out of Egypt. It’s been said that speaking in front of a crowd is considered the number-one fear of the average person. The number-two biggest fear is death. Jerry Seinfeld once joked, “That means that to the average person at a funeral, most would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.” So you can imagine that Moses had to be pretty trusting, believing that God knew what He was doing to pick him for a job that size. And sure enough, the Lord came through for him!
There was also the apostle Peter, who seemed at times to be a serious hothead. He often got into arguments and famously denied knowing Jesus right before He was crucified. God still used him to reach thousands of people after he received the Holy Spirit. By that time, you can be pretty sure Peter knew it was only the Lord’s power working through him that touched so many people’s lives.
God never seems to be choosy about only using people with talent, vast experience, the right background, or even those who are upstanding members of society. He rather likes to find someone unexpected and do something wonderful through that person, so that everyone will know it is His doing. The most important thing the Lord needs of these people is that they are willing.
One article I read to the students in Paidha on this subject used an oil lamp and a faucet to explain the concept of being a conduit of God’s work. The article read:
“When I was a boy, they had beautiful kerosene lamps in every home, on every table. They had lovely glass bowls for the oil, so you could see their wicks and the level of the oil and know when to replenish them. The lamp burned best when full of oil. When the level got low, too much of the wick would be out of the oil for the wick to be thoroughly soaked. Then the wick itself would begin to burn faster, and the lamp would give off smoke. We sometimes try too hard, work too hard, and try to do everything ourselves. We must immerse ourselves in Jesus and let Him burn to light the way, because if we try to do that ourselves, we’ll soon burn out.”1
Of course, the writer of this article was talking to people in a Western country, so he went on to say, “Most people don’t know much about oil lamps anymore, but something that everyone can relate to is a water faucet.” He went on to explain how the faucet doesn’t supply the water or create the water pressure; it merely lets it through.
I had to chuckle at this example, however, as in Paidha no one has running water. Showers are taken using jerry cans—one filled with hot water and the other with cold. But everyone had oil lamps for light, since there was no electricity. So I quickly reversed the sentence to make it more applicable. I read, “Now most of you know about oil lamps, but something that not everyone has seen is a water faucet.” Thankfully, that worked and they understood the concept that I was explaining.
Another way to think about it is like God being your iPod or whatever über-groovy music player you may have. He’s got a massive song collection and the perfect playlist, but He needs someone to pass it on to. You are like the headphones or speakers. You don’t have to make the music or come up with the playlist, but you do have a very important role to play in getting the music to the listener. Although speakers may play an important role, without the music source, they’re pretty useless. That’s the same with us. In fact, Jesus said, “Without me, you can do nothing!”2
It’s easy to forget that sometimes, because the Lord gave us a brain and the ability to do so much, so it can be easy to think that we’re pretty great on our own and sometimes forget just how much we need the Lord’s help.
I once visited a family in Namibia. They were teaching Bible classes to a friend of theirs, who also happened to be the national chess champion. He would come once a week and teach the kids chess strategy classes, and they would compete in local competitions, winning loads of medals. The children became phenomenal chess players! I played against the youngest, who beat me hands down each time. We both had all the same pieces and we followed the same rules, but his strategies and tactics were just way better than mine.
If you’ve played chess you know that some pieces can only move one space at a time. Some can only move one direction and others are limited to diagonal movements or “L” shapes. The queen can move in a straight line in any direction and as far as she wants. You could say that the queen is more powerful or useful than the pawns, but the fact remains that unless the player decides to move the queen, she’s pretty useless. Plus she, like every other chess piece, is still easily defeated if moved the wrong way.
I like to think of my life in similar terms. I may think I know what I want for my life and sometimes even know how to get it, but I’ve learned from experience (a good portion of that being mistakes) that if I never ask the Lord for guidance or wisdom, I can quickly make a mess of things. Plus, the Lord can engineer things that are way beyond our power, setting up meetings that seem to be “coincidences” or just having us in the right place at the right time for something good to happen.
Take some time to include Him in your planning and daily life and you’ll see that things will work better, run smoother, and be less stressful. You just have to be the wick, the faucet, or that chess piece, and let God do all the strategizing, the leading and guiding you through the ins and outs of His master plan.
1 “The Oil Lamp,” authored by David B. Berg
2 John 15:5
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2014 by The Family International