When I was in Namibia, this story was told to me as a cautionary tale before I left to drive across the country. The caution? Always make sure you have a full tank of petrol. (Or gas, as we would call it.)
There was a group of young men heading out to the bush to do mission work one day. They had loaded up their van and were very enthusiastic and excited about seeing what God would do in the virtually unreached village they were heading towards. Their enthusiasm was slightly dampened, though, when not even halfway there, their van began to sputter and quickly died.
After some checks and tests, they discovered that the problem was simple. They were out of petrol.
What to do, what to do, because they were in the middle of nowhere and walking to a petrol station was unimaginable in the heat of the Namib desert.
Being very spiritual men, they reasoned with one another that God had every intention of taking them all the way to their destination to do His work, despite how ill-prepared they were. (And if they were ill-prepared enough to leave without checking the petrol level, I imagine they were ill-prepared with what they planned on sharing/teaching in the village.) And being men of faith, they assured one another that if they just believed enough, God would make the van run again, even without petrol.
So, they prayed. And they attempted to start the van again.
But they were not discouraged! Because perhaps faith required action in this situation. And perhaps they could just randomly pick an action from Scripture, repeat it, and trust that God would revive the van. So, they marched around the van seven times, a la walls of Jericho-style, and with a mighty yell, they tried to start the van.
Well, this was stretching their faith. One of them quickly proclaimed that God had given him a vision for what they were to do. And, my, what a vision I’m sure it was, as he explained the plan to them. They were to each take turns… well, relieving themselves into the petrol tank. (Seriously, y’all. Can’t make this stuff up.) Surely if Jesus was able to turn water to wine He could turn pee into petrol, right? Hallelujah!
So, they did what he said, by faith. And for good measure, once they were all out of faith and urine (seriously, can’t make this stuff up), they marched around the van seven times, let out a mighty shout, and held their breaths as they tried to start the van.
AND IT WORKED!
For a few kilometers anyway. And then? It was dead. REALLY dead. Like, it couldn’t be revived without some serious work. I would have given anything to hear them explain themselves to the mechanic. “Ja, man, you see, it’s like this…”
So, the obvious lesson learned here? Is that you should keep your gas tank full before a long trip. The less obvious lesson, though, is that you can have all the faith in the world in what God will do, but if you’re assigning faith and claiming His providence on things that, honestly, He Himself would deem as stupid, stupid, stupid… well, your faith is misplaced.
Reminding myself today to put my faith in His promises for His glory, rather than on the things I think I need but probably don’t…