Tuesday, September 28

A Lesson from Nemo (and a handful of 5th grade boys)

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering grace in its various forms. --1st Peter 4:10

I love the movie "Finding Nemo" for a lot of reasons, but perhaps my main reason is that the characters are a hodgepodge of unique individuals not unlike the types of people each of us encounter every day. The title character is a young fish who is "differently-abled" but refers to his gimpy fin as his "lucky fin." Several other main characters have some sort of "issue." Nemo's dad, Marlin, is a neurotic, overprotective yet compassionate single father, Dory has a problem with short term memory, Gill has a number of battle scars from aquarium escape attempts, Bubbles seems to have some sort of mental condition from being in the aquarium too long, and Bloat, well, Bloat is a bit gassy. In addition, there is a little turtle who is adorable and enthusiastic but practically impossible to understand when he speaks (or is it squeaks?) quickly. In one form or another, despite all their personality differences, each serves a purpose along the way to reuniting Nemo and his dad.

I think any of us can find our analog in that lineup. Though individually we might feel insignificant or ineffective, God can draw any number of his children into a camaraderie that can accomplish much good for his kingdom. We can learn from the experienced, spiritually battle-scarred veterans of the church how to be diligent in prayer and patient in tribulation. Younger enthusiastic members of our Christian communities may have fresh ideas for evangelism but not know how to get them going. People struggling in different areas can find encouragement and support in fellowshipping with others who have had similar experiences.

The church is full of imperfect people, and that's exactly the kind of people God can use. Where our individual abilities may be limited or different, God places us in the company of people who can help fill in the gaps. For example, one summer I was signed up to teach a class of 5th graders at Vacation Bible School. To my shock/chagrin/befuddlement, I was left in charge of a class of about ten strong-willed boys. I have no experience with boys whatsoever--I don't have any brothers, and my entire family in general is a far cry from what I would consider "rambunctious". I was noticeably at the end of my rope after about 2 hours with those boys when God sent me two angels in the form of my friend Danielle and her mom who were also helping with VBS. They managed to get the boys to pipe down and sit (almost) still with one shrill whistle and an authoritative "mom voice".

I may never know if anything I taught in that class made an impact on those boys, but I do know that God used that time as a useful learning experience for me. Even though my less than commanding presence was not unlike Nemo's "lucky fin", I know that it did not render me ineffective. No matter what level of ability you think you have or don't have, rest assured that God has a plan for you and can use you to make an impact in ways you may have never even considered.



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