by Kenny Rader
Most of us love eating from a box of mixed chocolates. The chocolates come in all different shapes and sizes, and we have enough experience with these tasty sweets that we know which are our favorites. Likewise, we know which shapes and sizes to avoid.
People are just like a box of chocolates. We come in all different shapes and sizes, with all different types of qualities; qualities that many times do not come from financial status, but from what we have within us. Qualities that make us who we are as individuals.
When we are talking about people, we don’t mean their shapes and sizes as you think. After all, a piece of chocolate can be perfect in many ways. It can be large or small, thick or thin, or even have a weird look, but the size and shape of the candy don’t affect the taste at all. Instead, the quality of the chocolate and what hides within it produces the delicious pleasure or disgusting awfulness. It’s the same with people, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
The quality of who you are depends not upon external factors that affect you. It depends not upon your God-given looks or size. It depends not upon your IQ, or color of skin. It depends not upon your handicaps. It depends not on your personality. While your upbringing might affect you for a time, eventually, who you are depends not upon your parents, environment, or your circumstances. Ultimately, it boils down to who you decide to become, and what you choose to do with your life. More so, it depends upon what you do with the God Factor.
That’s right. Years ago, I was told I would never make it in the ministry. To an extent, that person was right. At that time of my life if I continued as I was, I would have likely gotten fired from my first job in ministry, and if I didn’t change my ways, I’d have probably gotten fired again and again.
What was my problem? My mouth often engaged before my mind. If I wanted to say something, I said it. I seldom thought of the hurt or pain I might have caused. I rarely considered the other person’s feelings. I just said what came natural and I maybe thought about the consequences later. I didn’t do this so much with Martha, my wife (although I needed to improve with her too), as I did with others.
When I was told I’d never make it in ministry, that person never considered what God might do in my life. And I’ll admit, I never knew God would work the way He has. But wait a minute. God didn’t do it all. It took a lot of hard work on my part to straighten out my life. It took total concentration in every word spoken to try and change my ways. It also took years and years of work. You don’t stop a train on a dime, and you don’t change your habits and personality overnight without a lot of thinking, planning, hard work, and a lot of mistakes. But here’s the main ingredient to becoming more and doing more than you ever thought – the God Factor.
It would be easy to say the God Factor is simply trusting in God, but it’s much more than that. As stated previously, it takes a lot of work on our part, but it also means reading and studying the Bible. It involves lots and lots of prayer. It means stepping out in faith and trusting God. It means putting yourself in situations that only God can carry you through.
This doesn’t mean testing God by doing something stupid, because that will never work long term. God just might let you sink, but let’s consider this. In the past, we’ve talked about Peter and how he walked on water, but can you give me one good reason why God helped Peter in that miracle? Was it to check out his faith? To see if he could do it? To see if Jesus would do what He said He would do? It doesn’t matter what reason you come up with, I don’t think you can find one substantial reason Peter needed to walk on water – yet he did it. Jesus permitted Peter to do the impossible. So, what enabled Peter to walk on water? The God Factor. Peter chose to step out in faith, and God enabled him by means of the God Factor in doing what Peter could not do on his own. Peter still had to get out of the boat, which took a lot of courage, but that’s when the God Factor kicked into gear.
The God Factor is that element of dependence on God that we usually leave out until we are sinking and the only way out is God. The God Factor is depending upon God to do the part we cannot.
When it comes to Kenny Rader leaving home, heading off to undergraduate school and then later to seminary, it wasn’t all formal education he received. A large part of that education was allowing God to make changes that only He could do. As I stated, it was a lot of work on my part, and I made a lot of mistakes. I did a lot of praying, but God blessed those efforts with the God Factor. He did what I couldn’t do. Paul’s writing to the Philippian Church was never far from my mind.
13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
-Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
And Jesus’ teaching in Matthew’s Gospel often came to mind.
20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.
-Matthew 17:20 (NIV)
But this trust didn’t come from wishful thinking; it happened because I knew I had set out to do what God wanted: in leaving home, in attending college, and in mending my ways. I also needed His help because I was on my own without Martha. It was the first time in my life entirely on my own and in need of God. Sure, my kids were only a phone call away, which I greatly appreciated, but I couldn’t turn around and talk with someone who had always been there for me. It was God and me; me and God. I had to learn to trust Him, and that is when the God Factor kicked in.
The God Factor was available all the time, but in the past, I hadn’t had the reason to use it in this new laser-focused way. I had used the God Factor during droughts and floods on the farm. I had used it during financial crises. I used it when my dad passed away, and I used it when Martha passed away. In leaving home and heading off to college, I had to use the God Factor in so many ways that I learned a new and total dependence on Him.
How many people in the Bible can you name that depended upon the God Factor? Abraham? Moses? Joshua? Gideon? Job? David? Elijah? Daniel? Peter? Paul? We can go on and list many more. These people were called by God in one way or another to do more than they could ever accomplish on their own, and they all used the God Factor.
This doesn’t mean they had an easy life. No!!! Read their stories, and you’ll see how each of them struggled, but those struggles led them closer in dependence on God, and God stepped in at the right instant to help them through their struggles.
We do the same thing with our children. Good parents challenge their children to do more than kids think they can do. And just as God does with us, good parents are never far away in coming to the rescue when children get in over their heads. We can call that the Parent Factor. Well, God does the same with us, but that’s the God Factor.
Stepping out in faith. Yep, that’s how we use the God Factor. God wants us to do more than we think we can. He wants us to do more than we can do on our own. If we don’t step out with that kind of faith, we don’t need God. Think about that statement. If you and I don’t step out in faith, getting into something for God that is over our heads, we don’t actually need God. The key ingredient to the God Factor is stepping out in faith for God.
Maybe the reason I am so adventurous for God is that I have lived the God Factor, and while I’ll admit it’s as scary as a rollercoaster ride, it is so fulfilling. But the only way you can use the God Factor is to step out into something over your head.
We are a congregation with the variety as a box full of mixed chocolates. We are all different, and we all bring something different to God, yet the God Factor aligns us with God and with one another. Big or small, rich or poor, we are all able to use the God Factor in ways that are unique to each of us.
Are you retired? That doesn’t mean God is done with you. That doesn’t mean that God expects the daringness of your youth to wane. You have wisdom and experience.
Are you young and just getting started in life? You have the potential of youth and vigor.
God wants you and me to use the God Factor. Let’s do it as individuals. And let’s do it as a congregation. Let’s do it as the Church for Jesus Christ. Let’s do more than we ever dreamed – or let’s do, as some of us are dreaming, what RCC can become. We can become so much more by using the God Factor.
Love you & God Bless,