George Washington Carver was born in 1864, into slavery, but through sheer determination, amplified by the power of God, he became one of the most important scientists of the 20th century. By the time he died in 1943 he was a legend.
Carver spent most of his adult life as a professor at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, as the head of its Agriculture Department. As the boll weevil began to infest cotton crops throughout the Southern United States, people finally began to listen to Carver, who had encouraged farmers to diversify their crops so they were not so dependent upon cotton. At Carver’s insistence, farmers began to plant and harvest the peanut.
After praying and asking the Lord for insight about the universe and about mankind, the Lord encouraged Carver to focus on something smaller. He reminded Carver of Genesis 1:29 and specifically that He had given peanuts and other plants to mankind for their use. So Carver returned to his laboratory with some peanuts in hand and began studying them, breaking them down into their constituent parts and coming up with different uses for them. Carver would eventually come up with more than 300 uses for the peanut.
Carver did not care about money or personal acclaim. He would discover and develop ideas that could be used to start profitable businesses for new products, but instead of patenting those ideas, he made them freely available for the public good. He could have chosen to be a wealthy man by worldly standards, but he chose instead to be an effective man by Kingdom standards.
What led me to study Carver, and to his authorized biography by Rackham Holt, was to understand how Carver worked inspired by the Holy Spirit. He fully attributed his discovery of the many uses of the peanut to inspiration from the Lord, and I wanted to understand how he had gone about obtaining that inspiration.
This week someone in the IT department of my law firm died. No details were provided regarding the cause of his death, but it appeared his death was not unexpected even though he was only a middle-aged man.
Attorneys in the firm responded to the email of his death by recounting stories of how he had helped them with their computer issues, and how he was always patient with them. That was about as personal as it got.
At first it seemed sad to me that the best we could do was talk about his IT support skills, but then I realized that was the only way we knew him.
I’m sure his family knew him more fully as a person because they related to him as a husband, father, son, or sibling, but they are only a handful of people. We are a law firm of 750. In short, at work he was known more widely but less fully. And that is the case with most of us.
The other night, I ate dinner at the hotel across the street. I ordered “The Gobbler,” which. as you guessed, is their version of the turkey sandwich. When it arrived, I was immediately disappointed. It was one of those triple-deckers, with an extra piece of bread in the middle, all-in-all about 5 inches thick.
They would have had to call the local fire department for the Jaws of Life to pry my mouth open wide enough for me to get a bite of this sandwich.
So there I sat trying to figure out how to get what should have been a simple turkey and cheese sandwich into my pie hole. Was I really supposed to eat it with a knife and fork?
One of the purposes of this blog is to imagine what the world will look like as the the kingdom of God advances and the earth is reclaimed for King Jesus. This is another way of asking what God intends for the world.
In the realm of work, this question is essential because it establishes the reason a job exists in the kingdom of God. Answering that question correctly with regard to one’s job can bring a clarity of purpose and solution for other problems that typically arise in the workplace.
is In the movie, Moneyball, the Oakland Athletic’s general manager, Billy Beane, is pondering what he is trying to do in building a winning Major League Baseball team. He is in fact revolutionizing the game through the use of analytics in an effort to allow teams with less money to compete with teams with much larger payrolls.
But in the midst of despair Beane tells an associate, “Baseball doesn’t matter.” The statement is a shocker because by this time in the movie, the viewer is pulling for Beane to succeed and cannot help but ask, “Why does baseball matter?”
It’s a question that could be asked of any professional sport. Players are paid millions of dollars a year; they are idolized, and commercialized. Why? It’s just a game, right?
My mother has not walked in over a year. She has been in a wheelchair, the victim of severe arthritis and a fall that broke her hip. The pain was so persistent and severe she could not sleep at night, and over the last week she told me three times she just wanted to die.
The orthopedic surgeon in Indiana told her there was nothing he could do for her. She would not walk again, and her pain would only get worse.
But on Tuesday, I watched her take her first steps in more than a year, and by Wednesday, the pain-inspired frowns and forced smiles she had worn for the past year had been replaced with a joyful smile, and the ebullient attitude of one who had begun to live again. This transformation happened because an orthopedic surgeon in Houston, Texas was skilled enough to do what many other good orthopedic surgeons could not—perform hip replacement surgery on an 86 year old with a fused, severely arthritic hip.
Ezra returned with a group of Jewish exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem under the imprimatur of Persian king, Artaxerxes, where God would use him to restore the Jewish religion in Judah. While Artaxerxes gave Ezra permission to lead, the Bible makes it clear the Lord was behind it and that He chose Ezra “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Ezra 7:9-10. In other words, the Lord chose to work through Ezra because Ezra had developed the skills necessary to make himself useful to God.