Using What We’ve Got
By Sam Collins
My wife and I recently returned from a vacation to Tennessee, where we visited some of my kinfolk. We also took in some of the natural wonders of the region that gave birth to MoonPies (a confection that resembles a chocolate-covered hockey puck) and a style of music that is best performed by individuals with slightly swollen nasal passages.
While in the Volunteer State, Sharon and I did some hiking. Some of it was fairly challenging. To make it down one cliff to the stream below, we traversed a series of steep change-of-direction switchbacks that made me feel like a living graph illustrating a shifty politician’s policy U-turns at election time.
Escalating arthritic joint pain and a diminishing range of motion have changed the way I approach the treks I tackle—particularly the steeper, rockier trails that present me with the approximate challenge faced by a busboy trying to balance a teetering stack of dishes on a high wire during an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale. For the most part, however, I’m able to trudge up the ascents and down the descents by using a more deliberate approach and a sturdy walking stick. Rather than give up something because it presents increased challenges, I’ve decided to use what I’ve got for as long as I’ve got it.
And isn’t that the choice most of us face at numerous points in our lives? We can either run up the white flag of surrender or we can attempt to use what’s at our disposal.
When faced with a hungry multitude, the disciples wanted to either send the people away with empty stomachs or gain access to Jesus’ credit card and a caterer’s cell phone number. The Lord challenged his followers to join him in blessing and using what they had: a few fish sticks and cold hushpuppies gleaned from a young boy’s lunchbox (John 6:1–14).
It’s always easier to refuse to take action because of the challenge presented by what we lack than it is to find the creativity, will, and gumption to use what we have. But often God calls us to move ahead with our current assets.
Faced with a wayward world full of wounded souls, small congregations can’t afford to hesitate because they lack the attendance figures and back account balances of megachurches. Middling-sized holiness movements cannot sit on their hands because they don’t have the cash or clout of the Southern Baptists. Individuals should not refuse to act because they can’t, as the old song goes, “preach like Peter” or “pray like Paul.”
Maybe we’re convinced that we don’t have a lot and that what we have is leaking out of gaping holes in our resource buckets. That really doesn’t matter. All the Lord asks is that we use what we’ve got.
The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Church of God Ministries or, at points, even the writer, but are written with tongue firmly planted in cheek to hopefully provoke a leavening bit of laughter and a smidgen of thought.