Not too long ago, you could have asked me if I knew all there was to know about Bono Baptist Church, and I would have probably said yes. Serving here for over six years has allowed me to become very familiar with the workings of this church, the various personalities among the membership, and all the special and unique qualities that make Bono Baptist what it is today. I have prided myself on being the “go-to guy” for people’s questions and suggestions, for I have felt that my position and experience have earned me that title. I have felt like the proud captain of ship who knows every nook and cranny of his vessel. However, all that has now changed.
Back in the early part of the summer, during one evening of this year’s Vacation Bible School, I noticed a couple of kids playing around in the cry room just off the sanctuary. Since I never miss an opportunity to goof off with kids (it’s what keeps me young) I stood in the sanctuary and began to make silly faces at them through the cry room window. I figured a big laugh was coming once they noticed my uglier than usual face, but nothing happened. Even after looking straight at me a couple of times, my antics got no reaction.
Severely bummed out, I walked out of the sanctuary, through the foyer, and into the cry room ready to admonish some kids for not laughing at their pastor. However, before I could get a word out, I looked at the mirror I had just been on the other side of, and discovered the problem. Not until that very moment did I realize that the mirror in the cry room was a one-way mirror, AND that it had been installed backwards! For years and years, moms and dads have taken their temper-tantrum-throwing little ones into that cry room, and instead of being able to see into the sanctuary and stay engaged with the service, they have only seen a reflection of themselves.
The fact that a one-way mirror was installed backwards is one thing, but what amazed me was that in six years of preaching while looking in the direction of that mirror, not to mention all the times I had been in the cry room, I had never noticed the issue! I remember thinking to myself, how did I not know this? Just when I thought I had this place all figured out!!!
Life is like that sometimes, isn’t it? With enough time and experience, we can become overly confident in our knowledge of “the way things are” only to have something silly come along to remind us how little we truly know. I think of those moments as God’s lessons in humility.
This story also reminds me of a particularly frustrating time in the life of the prophet Elijah. God had already used Elijah to proclaim to an evil king the start of a severe drought as a result of the sinful disobedience of the people. After that, God had led Elijah to the doorstep of a poor widow woman and her son. This family was so destitute that upon Elijah’s arrival, the mother had been getting ready to prepare their last meal before resigning her and her son to starvation. Instead, God had Elijah perform a life-saving miracle of producing an unending supply of flour and oil. As a result, the woman and her son took Elijah in and provided for his needs.
I’ve always wondered if at this point in Elijah’s life he was thinking, I’ve got this “prophet of God” stuff down! I just go where He sends me, say what He tells me, and the rest is gravy! Well, he was sort of right. Read what happens next.
Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?” “Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. Then he cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. (1 Kings 17:17–22, NIV)
Elijah just couldn’t fathom why God would lead him to save this family only to then take the life of the boy. It didn’t make any sense! God didn’t need Elijah to understand why this was happening, He just wanted Elijah to trust Him in the midst of what was happening. Personally, I believe this was God’s way of reminding Elijah just how much he had left to learn. Thankfully, Elijah passed the test by putting his faith in God and seeking His miraculous strength.
The truth is, we’re never supposed to think we’ve got it all figured out or have every answer, for when we do, we stop seeking God as our daily Guide. So once again, I’m grateful that God has reminded me that I know less than I thought I did, that I still have much to learn and be surprised by, and that I should never take His wisdom and guidance for granted. I pray that today God gives you the same reminder.