“I will teach you about the power of God; the ways of the Almighty I will not conceal (Job 27:11).”
One of my closest friends, who also served as a mentor, used to have some humourous mantras. He had at least three watchords.
One of them was,”Do as I say and not as I do.” Another was,”Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow.” A third was,”Love means never having to say your sorry.”
I always got some chuckles out of those. At least a couple of them were adaptations from famous quotes, twisted in comic fashion by my friend.
I encountered a more meaningful mantra after I watched a movie last night called “Faith and Potatoes”, an autobiographical film about a South African farmer and preacher named Angus Buchan. He has his own slogan: “the seed for a miracle lies not in difficulty, but in impossibility”.
“Faith and Potatoes” portrays Angus as a man of prayer, one who believes in a miracle working God. There are at least three miracles which occur during the story.
The first one is the raising of a girl who had been killed by lightning. Angus prays for her in New Testament fashion and she is healed.
In another incident, during the dry season, Angus prays for rain when a fire he has purposely started goes out of control. He is worried that his neighbor’s trees will be destroyed and he will be sued. Miraculously, rain comes and puts out the fire.
Finally, in the movie’s most dramatic scene, Angus is able to harvest a huge crop of potatoes from land parched by lack of water. He has purposely put God to the test through prayer in front of numerous amounts of people at a stadium, and the Lord comes through.
A faith and prayer life like that possessed by Angus Buchan are rare. Indeed, a man like him opens himself up to criticism. A quick surfing of the Internet reflects attacks from Christians concerning his theology and mockery from unbelievers related to his belief in the power of prayer.
One South African commentator labeled men like Angus as “wimps”. A Christian blogger rebukes this remark, calling Angus and the men who are involved in his men’s movement as “tough as nails”.
Another man who was tough, yet criticized, was the ancient man Job. He is famous for his suffering, as well as his fair weather friends, whose warped theology included viewing Job’s problems as coming from his personal sin (Job 17:2,10; 27:2-6)
Despite being an object of scorn, Angus holds men’s revivals called “Mighty Men Conferences”. He calls men to be the head of their homes, and caretakers of their wives and children.
Although Angus is far from being a wimp, sadly, many men today truly are. It’s a societal concern.
One sportswriter this morning is decrying the cancellation of a football game in Philadelphia because of a foot of snow. Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News writes,”This is the height of wimpiness, and the girly-men who made this sad decision should be ashamed of themselves.”
Bunch notes that some of the most magical games in American football have been played in horrible weather. Snow and ice make the sport special, he adds.
The governor of Pennsylvania chimed in with his opinion, also. He said, “We have become a nation of ‘wussies’.”
Men may be wimps and wussues, but there is one Personage who is not: God. He is totally able to perform the kinds of miracles the Angus Buchan prays for, and not just for him.
I am testimony to this. Throughout my life God has come through with deliverances that can only be termed supernatural.
Most recently I have been blessed financially with direct answers to prayer. In fact, in one instance I was just “wishing” for a certain amount to buy my wife something, and shortly thereafter the exact amount came in the mail.
Lack of faith can get us into big trouble, especially when it comes to money. Judas turned in Jesus for 30 pieces of silver instead of putting his faith in Him. The consequences led to Judas even killing himself (Matthew 27:3-5).
God wants men to be courageous, especially in prayer, not to wimp out in weakness. He wants men to be man up and have faith in Him, and not just for little things.
In my middle age, God is getting though to this mocker on this. I truly have been skeptical of God coming through on my behalf, in an effort to avoid theological error of the kind espoused by the “name it and claim it” and “health and wealth” crowds.
Yet, I believe God does not want me to throw the baby out with the bath water. He may not always give me the new Lamborghini I ask for, but He still is in the business of providing miracles in response to my faith and for His own purposes.
This past year or two in particular God has given me my own meaningful mantras. One of them is “listen to Me”.
God us telling me that His Holy Spirit isn’t limited to my narrow theology or lukewarm trust. If I am but watchful, perhaps I will gain some important insight about how to handle my pitiful life.
The apostle Paul had learned this lesson. Indeed, he came to faith listening to Jesus, who confronted him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19).
Paul continued to listen to God in the midst of His trials. Stuck on a ship during a terrible storm, God sent an angel to comfort Paul and tell him that he and his fellow travelers would survive it (Acts 27:21-26).
If Paul had been a mocker or skeptic, he might have thought he was having a dream of some kind. Instead, he listened to and followed through on what God told him through the angel.
Another watchword God has given me is “Watch Me Work!” Many times recently this has come to me when I have thrown up my hands and asked Him what I was going to do about some problem or another.
I recently found a symbol to remind me of this. I discovered my family coat of arms, which includes the slogan “Sepien qui vigilat” or “He is wise who watches.”
Mantras like Angus Buchan’s and the ones God has given me should define me, not my seemingly unsolvable difficulties. As I encounter them, I should follow another watchword God has given me: “Where are you going Lord? I’ll follow.”
I ought to ask this question and follow Him in courageous faith and expectation of His miraculous intervention. Between me and the seemingly hopeless path ahead, He is a third party who is more than willing to glorify Himself on my behalf.
Repeat after me…