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The One About the Safecracker

Jane’s in her mid-twenties. She is one of those straight-talking, down-to-earth, fun people who lives life with God out in the open. She works as a food and beverages manager in a big hotel, does her job well, cares for colleagues, joins in at the pub, and talks unselfconsciously about whatever she’s up to – her trust in God, her Bible college studies, her obsession with great coffee, and her love of peoplewatching in the park.

Over the time she’s worked there, she’s acquired a reputation for fixing things – surprisingly, often with prayer. There was the computer that wasn’t working, and they really needed it to work. When no one could get it to work, Jane simply prayed. Right there in the office. No fuss. No big palaver. No big deal. God answers prayer. ‘Ask,’ he tells us. So, she does, knowing that he may not answer the way she prays, but that’s up to him.

And, of course, when a computer starts to whirr, God’s not just showing that he answers prayer, he is actually helping to get the work done. The work matters too.

Examples abound. So, there was the curious incident of the notoriously stubborn vending machine. A member of staff was sent to ask Jane to come and pray for the extrication of a can of Coke that had been paid for, but that was refusing to fulfil its destiny. Jane went, tried first to coax the can out of the machine in the conventional way – with a pressing of buttons, and a vigorous shaking. The can, like Balaam’s ass, refused to move. Then Jane began to pray. She’d hardly begun before the can clunked into the delivery tray, to the cheers of the gaggle of staff looking on.

One day in her final week at the hotel, the duty manager came to tell her that they couldn’t get into the safe. In fact, three others had attempted the combination lock, and the problem had been bumped up to the general manager. They needed to get into the safe because it contained the kit they needed to do the daily computer system backup. So, Jane was asked to come and try.

She tried the code.

Nothing happened.

And then one of the duty managers said in a slightly dismissive way, ‘Well, you might as well pray then, Jane.’

So, ignoring the hint of mockery, Jane not only prayed but laid hands on the safe, with a room full of  people. Then she put in the code. And it clicked open.

The next day was her final day at that hotel and her successor’s first day. They were in the usual morning review meeting, which included the mandatory reading of the incident diary. All the department heads were there, around eight people in all. And since anything to do with the safe had to be recorded in the incident diary and shared at the review meeting, the words that the duty manager had written were duly read out, ‘Safe wouldn’t open. Asked Jane to help. She prayed. Safe opened.’

No one in the meeting batted an eyelid. Except the new recruit, whose wide-eyed look of amazement betrayed his bewilderment. “What kind of place have I come to?”

What kind of place?

The kind of place where it’s normal for non-Christians to come and ask a Christian to pray to solve problems. The kind of place where it’s normal for a Christian, this particular Christian anyway, to pray out loud in front of others in the middle of a shift, in the middle of an office, in the middle of the canteen. The kind of place where the Lordship of Christ over the material world is as evident today as it was in the days of Elisha, when a young prophet dropped a hugely valuable iron axe-head in the Jordan, and the old prophet threw a stick on the water and the axe-head rose to the surface (2 Kings 6).

The kind of place where the Lordship of Christ over inanimate objects is as evident as his Lordship over the wind and the rain, the whale and the raven, and the colt of a donkey that had never been ridden before.

But also, an ordinary place. Where a follower of Jesus not only spoke of Jesus but, like the apostles in Acts 4, asked the Lord to ‘stretch out [his] hand and heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of [his] holy servant Jesus’. Where a faith-filled food and beverages manager still trusts that she will one day see some of her former colleagues at Christ’s great marriage banquet.

 

***

What convictions shape Jane’s actions? What biblical connections do you see?

Is anything too hard for our God?

‘As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axe-head fell into the water. “Oh no, my lord!” he cried out. “It was borrowed!” The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. “Lift it out,” he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.’

2 KINGS 6:5–7

 


 

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