I remember the winter of 1980. I was ready to start my first major tour to share about the ministry of Gospel for Asia. I had bought a cheap air ticket that gave me unlimited travel for 21 days. I had meetings lined up across the country. However, on the day of my departure, a terrible winter storm hit the region. All the buses—including the one I planned to take from Oklahoma to Dallas—were cancelled.
My old Nova had some engine problems, so a neighbor offered to let me use an old pickup truck without a heater. The vehicle looked as if it could not make it to the next town, let alone the six-hour drive to Dallas. But it was either the pickup or nothing. If I missed my flight, the tightly packed schedule would be ruined. I had to go now.
Doing the best I could to stay warm, I put on two pairs of socks and all the clothing I could. But even with the extra protection, I was on U.S. Highway 75 only a few minutes when it appeared I had made a terrible mistake. A freezing snow covered the windshield within minutes. After every mile I had to stop, get out and scrape the windows again. Soon my feet and gloves were soaked and frozen. I realized that the journey was going to take a lot longer than the six hours I had left. My imagination went wild, and I could just see the newspaper headlines reading, “Preacher Freezes to Death in Winter Storm.” My head dropped to the steering wheel, and I cried out to God.
As I looked up, I saw a miracle on the windshield. The ice was melting rapidly before my eyes. Warmth flooded the truck. I looked at the heater, but nothing was coming out. Outside, the storm continued to rage. It kept up all the way to Dallas, but the truck was always warm, and the windshield was always clear.
If God had not intervened, there was no way I could have gotten to the airport in time to go on that tour. There was nothing I could have done. When we are really helpless, God comes to our aid, and we will always be able to remember there was no human explanation for what happened. Getting to the airport in time was one of those things the Lord did. I could not say I had great faith and moved mountains through prayer. No. It was basically a helpless situation, and God was gracious.
And it is in helpless situations like this that God gets the most glory. Think about Gideon (see Judges 6-7). Why did God pick him, out of all His people, to fight against the Midianites? The Israelites were desperately crying out, “God save us!” And then the Lord goes and picks Gideon, a guy who was hiding from the Midianites.
When the Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he basically said, “Me? Maybe you are talking about somebody else. I am not strong. I am not able. I’m scared to death. I’ve been running away because I’m a nobody. I’m the least and the lowest from the lowest community—You don’t understand,” (Judges 6:15, paraphrased). It took patience and time on God’s part to convince Gideon.
When he finally agreed to fight against the Midianites, he got 32,000 people to go with him—it was a big army. And the Lord said, “This is not going to work. When it’s all done, they will say, ‘It was by our might, our prayer, our fasting, our strength, our understanding of the Scriptures—we made it happen,’” (Judges 7:2, paraphrased).
Then the Lord brought down the army to 300 people—less than one percent of the original number. They were facing a Himalaya-sized crisis. But they were not alone. The Lord worked through them to bring the victory.
The apostle Paul said, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that, when all is said and done, nobody will say, ‘Wow, he did it, or she did it,’” (2 Corinthians 4:7, paraphrased).“`
It’s good to be reminded, whatever we are dealing with, there’s nothing in us of ourselves that is going to make it go one way or another. We are weak, fragile people. We’re especially reminded of this when we get sick. Even a simple virus can make us so weak that we can’t even think properly.
How great our need is to depend on the Lord. Our culture, and even modern Christianity, tells us that we are the center of everything. But this is not true. God is God, and He is the center. Through Him and for Him are all things. For this reason, our pursuit in life must not be to be someone great, but to be His and to be available for His use. He is able to impart His life through our earthen vessels.
My prayer is that we will remain broken and humble before the Lord, trusting in Him and not in our own strength, ideas and agendas. God is looking for people whose eyes are fixed on Him, so He can show Himself mighty on their behalf.
O Lord, in our weakness and struggles, our failures and sin, our lack of faith, we surrender this formless clay into Your holy hands. We ask, O Master, that You will take us and mold us. Please breathe into us new life. And may we truly become vessels in Your hand for Your glory. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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