There’s a school bake-sale fundraiser!
But parents have to provide the baked goods.
Two parents immediately decide not to buy theirs, but to bake their contributions themselves. Carla’s parent drops the four-year-old off at her grandparents’ and heads to the supermarket to buy the finest ingredients to make the finest cake. Timmy’s parent heads to the supermarket with little Timmy in tow, and together they pick up the basics and then choose the other ingredients.
The next day, Carla is watching her favourite film in her playroom, while her parent is in the kitchen flowing with creativity. Carla’s parent is using the perfect amount of the perfect ingredients in the perfect way. Before her film is finished, Carla smells the cake baking and runs to the kitchen to find her parent cleaning up the last bits of cooking equipment and admiring the perfect cake.
Meanwhile, Timmy jumps out of bed excited for a day of baking with his parent. Even though his parent has decided on the fundamental basics, Timmy is included, choosing the amounts of flavours, having a try at mixing and stirring, up and down off the stool as things get dropped and collected. It was a full day! There were times when Timmy got bored and distracted and frustrated, but the whole process bonded them closer together, with laughter, discipline, comforting and teaching throughout. The cake came out the oven lopsided and bumpy, and the kitchen was a hot mess! But, as they tidied up together, Timmy’s parent thought, ‘I wouldn’t have it any other way’.
God could be like Carla’s parent, if He wanted to be. He is able do everything quicker, better and tidier than we can do any of it.
The Church has made a mess of its mission over its history, and I know I’ve made a mess of my part a time or two as well.
The Bible says that we are God’s co-workers (1 Corinthians 3:9). But why? Why doesn’t God just do it Himself, since He is utterly capable of perfection while we contribute delay, mess and flaws?
God wouldn’t have it any other way, because including us in His work:
• Teaches us His nature and His ways
• Matures us spiritually, mentally and emotionally
• Bonds us in relationship with Him
I wonder if the worst mess we make is actually when we try to bake the cake alone! As ludicrous as that is, I’m pretty sure we’ve all done that in some way, to some degree. Church history exposes the tendency in us.
Co-working with God well requires from us:
• Gratitude for the privilege and honour
• Humility to always follow His lead
• Listening for His voice and watching His ways
God can feed every hungry belly by dropping food from the heavens, He can supernaturally appear to anyone who doesn’t know Him, He can download understanding directly into every mind, He can rewire brains to make trauma disappear overnight, He can restore land with a word. God is able to do it all Himself without any mess or delay or flaw.
But God is not a controlling and detached parent. He chooses relationship over rapidity, long-term maturing over short-term micro-managing, and personal over perfect.
So, if we want to see empty bellies filled, lost souls finding The Way, ignorance replaced with understanding, people healed, and the land stewarded, it’ll require gratitude for the privilege to act, humility to follow His lead, as well as open ears and eyes to learn His ways.
Onwards and upwards
Rebekah Thomas co-leads Hope Centre Ministries in the UK with her husband Clyde and is also a minister at Victory Church in Cwmbran.