5 – Unqualified

There was a time in Israel’s ancient history when the nation had no central government. They were dominated by a people called Midianites, raiders who helped themselves to whatever the people of Israel produced. The “Angel of the LORD” appeared to a small farmer, named Gideon, who was threshing grain in a place hidden from the Midianites and told him to conquer Israel’s enemies.

Yeah, right. Gideon pointed out that he was a nobody. The Angel pointed out that God was sending him and that’s all he needed. The story in Judges 6-7 tells how Gideon reluctantly got a small army together. Then God told him to send all the troops who were afraid home. More than two thirds of his army left. Then God told him that his army was still too large and to set up a test that would enable him to determine who to take into battle. Ninety-seven percent of the remaining force failed the test! Gideon was left with only three hundred men to oppose an uncountable force. God wanted it on the record that He was the defeater of the Midianites. Of course, Israel under Gideon won. (Otherwise we wouldn’t have the story.)

My story is nowhere as dramatic, but it illustrates a pattern of God choosing to accomplish His ends through people who, like Gideon, are not qualified for the task God sets before them in order that He might receive the glory.

I was driving my car in Columbia, South Carolina and was ascending a hill. At an intersection, a stalled car stopped me from continuing. I waited for a few minutes while the driver tried to start her car. Finally, I walked up to her car window. The frightened lady rolled down her window just enough to be able to hear me. I asked her to let her car roll backward and to steer it over to the curb so as to not block traffic. Then, I’d try to help her. She did as I asked. I also let my car roll back and to the curb and parked behind her.

When we were both out of our vehicles, I confessed to her, “Ma’am . I don’t know why I offered to help you. I’m not a mechanic or the son of a mechanic. I have no idea of what to do to get your car going. Would you mind if we prayed and asked God to help?” She brightened up and a broad smile spread across her face. “I was just praying that God would send a Christian to help me.” I knew that the Lord was well aware of the details of our situation, so my prayer was brief. “Please help us, Lord.”

I asked the lady to allow me to try to start her car. She handed me her key. When I got into her car, I smelled gasoline fumes. I acted on an impulse. I pressed the accelerator to the floor and held it while I tried to start it. The car started immediately and kept running. I got out of the car and told the lady that our prayer must have been answered, for I had no idea of why the car started without a problem. We said a prayer of thanks and we both continued on our separate ways.

Since then, I’ve learned that the gasoline smell indicated a flooded engine. A mechanically inclined friend later told me that the way to start a flooded engine was to wait a few minutes for the fumes to dissipate, then hold the accelerator down and turn the ignition key. The action I took was the correct thing to do, but I’d done it in ignorance.

Had someone with mechanical skills stopped to help her, he’d have applied his knowledge of cars and the lady would have been helped, but she might have been aware that the Lord had answered her prayer only in general terms. The way that He helped her, by choosing someone totally unqualified, but who knew to pray, God made clear to her that He did hear and answer her prayer, but He also showed me that I may follow His lead without being concerned about my natural ability to do what He asks. Trust and obey.

Since I learned how to identify a flooded engine and how to start one, I’ve never needed the skill.

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