I stared out my car window at the pouring rain. “Please help the rain to stop” I fervently asked God. I asked again and again, but the rain continued to pour.
I lived in a community that had a fair number of issues. Neighbors did not talk to each other often, and most kept to themselves. As I had thought about what I could do to help bring the community together some, I had realized that a fair number of guys in the area were working on restoring cars in their garage.
I spent four months visiting and talking to these men. I got them each to commit to bring their car to the local church for a neighborhood car show. I passed out flyers throughout the neighborhood to get people to come and see the cars. I figured it would be a good way to get people talking and to know each other.
It took a lot of time and energy to get things ready. When the day of the car show came, the skies opened up and started pouring rain in an amounts rarely seen in Utah.
The weather had been dry for months. Rain was usually something that came and went in a few minutes, but this storm dropped substantial amounts of rain for hours.
When a person has worked on fixing up an old car, one thing that they refuse to do is to get it wet. They do not want any part to rust, and they do not want their carefully polished cars to get covered in mud or anything dropped in the rain. So, the rain the day of the car show meant that no old or restored cars came to the car show.
People from the neighborhood did still drive to the church to see the car show. They did not know that rain would stop the cars from being there. I watched helplessly as car after car of people coming to view the restored cars pulled into the parking lot, drove around the building, and then left, confused as to why there was no car show.
I knew that the Bible was full of stories of people of faith experiencing great miracles. “Why didn’t God help me?” I wondered. “Did I lack faith?” “Does He not like me?” “Why couldn’t He just help with a simple request to delay a rain storm by one day?”
I had worked so hard to do something that I thought would be a good thing. God did not help me at the end when I really needed a nice day of weather. We had had almost three months of nice weather, so why was it so bad to ask for a nice day? The rain could come on any other day, or God could have simply told me to pick a different weekend when I set the date for the car show.
For some reason, the rained-out car show really impacted me. I had put so much work and effort into it. It had taken sooo long to go around to each house, and it had taken a lot of work to meet and talk to all of the neighbors. To see it all end in nothing was quite painful.
I eventually learned about a man named Hudson Taylor. He had tried to do a lot of good things in the world and had spent more than half his life building schools and teaching in China in the 1800’s. He was no stranger to adversity, having encountered many times when things deviated far from what he hoped or expected.
At some point in his life, he stated: “I used to ask God to help me. Then I asked if I might help Him to do His work through me.”
When I read his statement, I immediately knew where I had gone wrong with the car show. The car show was my work. God gave miracles to those that were doing His work, not their own work.
This simple statement from Hudson Taylor has helped me to understand more about how I see the world. As I reflected on my prayers, I realized that they were a long list of things I wanted God to do for me – take away some pain or sickness, help me be happy, get a better job, etc.
I wasn’t praying and asking God what I could do for Him. God had given me a body, a family, a beautiful earth, a free country, technology, and all kinds of nice things that the world had never known. I could travel freely, choose what to study in school, learn almost anything, and enjoy foods from all around the world.
With all that God had given me already, why were my prayers focused on Him giving me more things or changing more of my unfavorable situations? Why did I never ask God what He needed me to do to be a part of His work?
Whether or not you believe in God, the principle I discovered is that life is about more than just us. There are all types of worthy goals and causes to be a part of and pursue. For example, if you have been blessed by your country, have you ever asked what you can do to keep your country alive and well?
If you have been the recipient of gratitude or friendship, have you ever asked how you can be grateful or a friend to others?
When I stopped looking inward so much and started looking outward more, asking where my skills, personality, talents, or resources could be used to help, I saw things in a very different way.
I began to see that I had a place and purpose. I had something to give. I was part of a bigger plan and purpose. The rainy days and rained out events became less concerning for me. I could see that God had bigger things in mind, and if it needed to rain on a certain day, it needed to rain, even if a car show had been planned.
When I started asking where I could contribute, I started seeing people more as people. The human side to each person came through stronger. I felt compassion and care for people. I felt love for those who had helped me have the things I was blessed with. I felt a sense of gratitude for all that I had, rather than focusing on what I did not have.
“I used to ask God to help me. Then I asked if I might help Him to do His work through me.”
Life is more meaningful when we connect into the higher powers and principles that are at work in our lives. Truth is at work and always will be. The more we can become a part of all that truth has to offer us, the more fulfilling, happy, and peaceful our life will be.
Take time this week to ask what you can do for someone or something else. In that answer, you may find that a lot of the other questions and problems you have been dealing with may somehow be resolved. We are each part of something bigger than ourselves. When we contribute to the bigger picture, our lives change in neat and meaningful ways. The shift in how we see and experience the world changes so much inside and helps to dispel the darkness, doubt, fears, and uncertainties inside.
We are all people of value. We are all needed. We all have a part to play in the grand scheme of things. To find our place, we just need to start asking where we might be of help.
Believe is building a community of individuals who are willing to contribute to making the world a better place. Each of us has the power and capacity to change the world, for good. We would love to have you join us. You may never be the same.