Lois, our 16 month old, has grown into bad habits of picky-eating dinner drama. She also has a bad case of dinner envy (meaning she only wants to eat food on other people’s plates). Upon placing her in her highchair she will have already made up her mind on what she should eat, how she should eat it, and when it will appear on her tray. And of course, like any pre-toddler, when it doesn’t happen the way she thinks it ought, screams, yells, and food fights erupt.
I was determined to end these unnecessary and uncivilized behaviors as soon as we moved.
Last night tested the wills of parent and child. I gave her a festive plate filled with taco, green beans, and grapes. Not surprisingly, the grapes were gone in a second. But when she saw round, juicy fruit balls on her brother’s plate, she deemed all her other food unworthy, pushed it aside, and began frantically pointing and screaming at the top of her lungs for her brother’s grapes instead.
We calmed her, explained to her the facts, offered a green bean airplane, and attempted several tactics for feeding a stubborn child. Despite our creative endeavors, she screamed, cried, and busted into a very robust, pouty pity party. That upper lip was real big, folks.
After no success, I aborted the project temporarily, and allowed her to simmer in her own cuisine woes. Since our brink had been met, I summoned the company around the table to pray for our little, sorry girl. We bowed our heads, folded our hands, and asked the Lord to help our little one learn to eat happily and content.
After time advanced, I looked over at the end of the table to check on our temperamental tot. And there, before my eyes, was the loveliest of sights. Dolly, being the gentle nurturer she is, had mastered what I, the real mother, could not. I witnessed the two, girly sisters giggling in a private eating exchange. Dolly, inching closer to the highchair, began gently feeding Lois bits of food from the plate. First green beans, then little samples of her taco. Somehow, and I do not know how, that big sister did it. Lois had been won over and began motioning that she wanted her plate back for her own enjoyment after all. Dolly continued in giddy satisfaction, pinching little bits of scraps into the eager and happy hands of Lois. My heart felt relief first (that the fit had abated), and then extreme joy at the sweet sisterly initiation of peace.
Then it dawned on me! I exclaimed to my family in amazement, “You guys! The Lord answered our prayer through DOLLY! Dolly was how the Lord answered our prayer to help Lois eat happy and content.”
My mind found not only relief and joy, but it exploded in theological wonder and amazement. My prayer, which seemed easier to accomplish through changing Lois’s heart and behaviors, became a lesson on the beauty of humanity instead. The Lord chose to answer the prayer through human hands. The hands of a sister— sweet, tender, compassionate, and caring— became to me, the hands of divine involvement. The Lord could have answered our prayer through unseen spiritual means, but instead, he glorified his goodness through the seen physical means of our dear three-year-old.
This simple but profound event became a pivotal point in how I understand the world God designed. Somewhere in Christian lingo, the concept of, “All I need is Christ,” had become an all-consuming, totalizing statement for me. If everything was stripped away, and I found myself on a teeny island in the middle of the sea, I previously thought I should be able to say, “I have everything I need,” because I would still have Christ within me. And although there is a beautiful truth in that unrealistic scenario, I believe the Bible tells me that we actually need additional things from Christ, other than just Christ himself. So really, I wouldn’t have everything I needed on that island. I would be lacking, even if I had Christ.
Just writing that sounds weird. We need something apart from Christ?! Well no, not exactly apart from Christ, but we need things from Christ that are not Christ. Bread and water are not Christ. Clothing, shelter, and even my lungs that breathe air, are not Christ himself. In fact, when I think about it, God designed this world with thousands of needs that are not Christ!
“Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)
Jesus said those words to his disciples in order that they would ask the Lord for evangelists. For human evangelists. Not angels, not miraculous signs, nor supernatural power shows. He didn’t tell the disciples to pray for magically created converts to come out of thin air. God designed this world with humans as the primary agents of his work.
Is that not amazing!? Basic Christian doctrine says nothing is impossible with God. God can do all and anything that he pleases. But the brilliant, astounding, marvelous thing about God is, more often than not, it pleases him to appoint humans to accomplish his purposes. That’s what the whole Bible is about! God divinely chooses humans to participate in the saving, redeeming, and helping other humans. Almost every narrative of the Bible communicates that truth: Moses, David, Ruth, Esther, Samson, Jonah, and the list goes on and on, in almost every page in the Bible. Sure, the supernatural miracles of the Lord showing up or doing crazy things like manna, visions, and closing the mouths of Daniel’s lions blows me away. “Nothing is impossible with God” shows up in some unbelievable ways. But even more crazy I think, is when his love displays itself through the mouths, hands, and feet of his created image bearers. Like, whoah!
And of course, not to mention the greatest human who ever stepped foot on this Earth: Jesus.
This is probably so elementary of me to just now realize the cool-factor of this truth. The natural pattern of God’s designed world includes humans, humans, and more humans. And what does this truth do or mean? Why is it so amazing?
Because I’m a human. You are a human. The thing you care about the most in this world is probably another human. We don’t have to go very far at all to experience the hand of God. We probably don’t need to look very far to see an answer to our prayers. Even with all our weaknesses, shortcomings, and failures, the Lord sees fit to use us still. You and me.
I don’t know about you, but that brings a whole new level to life. Seeing myself straight-up as God’s tool. Seeing the people around me as God’s agents. And not just Christians. Everyone. The mailman, the doctor, the person checking out my groceries. All are God’s instruments to bring to fruition his divine plan.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them.” (Genesis 1:27-28a)