Buckets, part three

It’s a marvel that a series of posts called Buckets could last for three entries, but hey, I’m just a messenger here. Today I want to close out this look at big faith with a personal story that I experienced just a week ago. I was only a witness to this story, and not the active participant, but I know the people very well and I’m certain that they’d want me to share this with as many people as I can.

So last week I went to a prayer meeting in a nearby city. This meeting endeavors to gather believers from all the churches in the area and unite them in prayer. It’s a really cool deal, and there’s great power in uniting with the larger church of Christ and not just your one church home. After the meeting, I was sitting in my car for a while because I called my brother. He’d texted me during the meeting and so I returned the call, and we talked for around ten or so minutes. I hung up and prepared to leave, and when I looked in my rearview mirror I saw two close friends of mine that were still there. The hood to their car was up, and they were obviously having car trouble. A third person was also there, attempting to jump start my friends’ car.

I stopped my car and walked over, just to chat and see if there was anything I could do to help. I learned that the car’s been having trouble starting lately and this wasn’t an unusual occurrence. The friendly third person kept the jumper cables attached for some time, but no matter how long they stayed connected, my friends’ car wouldn’t start. The friendly helper suggested trying to use my car instead, as his had stubby battery posts or something (is it clear yet that I know next to nothing about cars?). So I bring my car over, and we get the clamp thingies hooked up, and hang around for a while to see if this will work. After more minutes and more attempts, my friends’ car is still not responding. It’s getting a little bit of power, but just refuses to start.

At this point, everyone is ready to move on to new solutions. I’m going to give them a ride to their apartment, where they’ll grab their second vehicle and get on with the task of trying to get their car trouble sorted. Before we leave, the friendly helper has a thought. Let’s pray real quick.

Now, let me just be honest for a minute. Prayer, as I’ve shared many times in recent months, is the part of my faith that was probably the slowest to grow. For a long time when I was younger my belief in prayer was paper thin. I viewed it as almost just a ritual that we had to do to appease some commands in the Bible. Over the past year, I’ve come to understand that prayer is a truly powerful and vital part of our walk with God, and that through prayer the power of God can and does move in unbelievable ways.

But I have these memories of people I saw once when I was a cocky teenager that knew everything, and I saw them form a prayer circle around a broken down car. And forgive me here, but I remember thinking it was the stupidest thing I’d ever seen. I believed in God, I knew God was real, but to pray over a machine that was broken struck me as outright stupidity. Like God cares about a broken down car, I remember thinking.

If I’m being totally honest, a little bit of those thoughts crept into my mind last week as the four of us joined hands to pray. I feel bad admitting it, but I was actually a little relieved when the friendly stranger kept his prayer grounded in practical things. He asked that God would provide comfort and support as my friends dealt with the car issue, that he would help ease the financial burden of getting it fixed, and that God would find a way to be glorified in the situation. Amen, amen, we’re done here. It was a great prayer, and like I said, a small part of me was relieved that we hadn’t prayed the power of God to mend the engine and charge the battery! The friendly helper starts walking towards his car, and I start walking towards my car, happy to be of service and to get to spend a little more time with my friends as I take them home, when one of them said something very interesting.

Let’s try it one more time.

Sometimes I wish I could stretch the truth a little on this blog, but I’m never gonna. So let me tell you, I didn’t expect the car to start. I just didn’t. It wasn’t any big doubt, I didn’t look up at heaven and shake my head slowly and say “Yeah right” or anything like that. But I didn’t think it was gonna start. The helpful guy had charged the battery for about ten minutes with his car, then they’d tried a battery charger kit on there for about ten minutes, then my car for a good five to ten minutes. They’d tried to start it probably twenty or thirty times. If this thing was gonna start it would’ve already started. That’s what I was thinking at the time. I know God is massive, I know that he could reshape the world in an instant, could turn back time, could teleport my entire house to Mars, but it just didn’t enter into my mind that He was gonna cause this car to start. But my friend in that moment had something I didn’t have. In that moment he had some big faith, and he said “let’s try it one more time.”

As I’m sure you can guess at this point, the car roared to life, as if there had never been any problems at all. And we all laughed, and marveled at just how unexpected and cool our God is. I couldn’t stop smiling as I drove home, just thinking about God. I still don’t think that God has much concern for cars or machines, but I know for a fact that He cares deeply about His people. And as most of us know, there are few problems in life quite as disruptive and expensive as car problems. Then I think about the prayer, and the end part, when the friendly helper asked for God to find a way to be glorified in the situation. I’m just a guy speculating here, but I bet that’s when God decided to do it. Because what a faithful prayer that is. God, in this time of trouble, find a way to be glorified. What a beautiful sentiment that is, what a deep understanding of the nature of God that shows. And God heard it and I like to think He shrugged and smiled and said, “Okay, here’s a way for me to be glorified here.” I like to think that he laughed along with us as we all laughed and praised His name in that moment.

Faith and prayer have been on my heart so heavily lately. Big faith, and big prayer. The kind of faith that gathers buckets from the neighbors, then tips over a small jar of oil and watches as it defies every natural law and fills bucket after bucket. The kind of faith that puts God first even when faced with an annoyance like a broken down car, the kind of faith that prays over the situation and then says “let’s try it one more time.”

I spoke in the previous post about limiting God, and here’s an example of it. I was limiting God in my own mind because I didn’t even think to turn to Him regarding the broken down car. He’d provided enough, I thought. Helpful friends who are here to assist with the broken down vehicle, the weather was surprisingly cool, everyone was mostly at ease and at peace. My bucket was filled, and I was ready to go home. God showed me, didn’t He? He showed me that it’s time to get a bigger bucket, it’s time to stop limiting His power and His reach and His goodness and His blessings.

I think back to when I was a teenager and I watched those Christians gathered around that broken down car praying. I thought they were wasting their time, and truthfully I thought they were just a little bit crazy. Guess who you’re going to find praying over broken down cars for the rest of his natural life? This guy right here. I’ll pray just like the helpful stranger did, that God provides peace, assistance, and that above all else, He finds a way to get the glory in the situation. I can’t possibly know what God’s gonna do in those situations, but I do know I’m going to at least give Him a chance to move in a mighty way. I’m going to gather up the buckets.

PRAYER AND CLOSING

Father God, you are the mighty one.  You are the faithful and loving God that looks after us.  Thank you for showing yourself to us in both big and small ways.  I didn’t even realize I was limiting you, Lord, but I was.  I was getting glimpses of you and going home happy, filling my one bucket and heading home.  God, I tell you today that I’ve gathered more buckets, and I stand ready to see them all filled.  In the seven days since that moment with the car you’ve bolstered me in incredible ways, grown me in many directions.  I’m so thrilled to know you, Jesus, and to be known by you.  You see me, and really, what else does a person need in life?  The creator of the universe sees me, he knows my name.  Help me to lead a life that is pleasing to you.  Continue to grow my faith, Lord, continue to guide my steps, to help me when I stumble.  And Jesus, I just say thank you.  Thank you for your incredible love, for your amazing peace, and for the beauty of purpose that you instill in your followers.  My house is filled with buckets, God, and I’m so excited to see how you’re going to fill them!  I love you so much, my king, and I thank you with every fiber of my being for all that you are and all that you do for me.  In the precious name of Jesus I pray, amen.

Well, it’s Thursday and the week is almost over.  Mine has gone by in a flash as I got used to my new job.  God’s been so good to me, and I so hope that you’re seeing His goodness in your own life as well.  His goodness is always present, even in the tough times.  I hope you all have a safe and relaxing weekend.  I love you guys!

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