September 8, 2013

Faith like Paper Clips

by Clint Archer

one red paperclipMany dream of one day owning their own home. If asked what you need to buy a house, you’d probably reply with some variation of this vein: “I need more money; if you increase my income I could afford a house.” But Canadian blogger, Kyle MacDonald, would disagree with you. He’d say that you don’t need an increase in income, you just need to use what you already have. After all he purchased his home with nothing in his pocket but than a little red paper clip.

On July 14, 2005 MacDonald swapped his red paperclip for a fish-shaped pen. Later that day he exchanged the pen for a hand-sculpted doorknob. One man’s trash is apparently indeed another man’s treasure; in return for his doorknob he secured a Coleman camping stove (with fuel). By September he found someone who would swap a generator for the stove. Here’s where it gets interesting. He traded his generator for a package deal called “an instant party” which consisted of an empty keg, an IOU for any kind of beer to be put into the keg, and a neon Budweiser sign.

A French Canadian comedian and radio personality loved the idea of the instant party, and offered MacDonald in return, a white elephant snowmobile. A week later the snowmobile was traded for a two tickets to a place in British Columbia called Yahk. Since you apparently can’t get to Yahk by car, a desperate enough vagabond traded the van for the trip.

Musicians love vans, and he was able to use it as payment for a music contract with a little recoding studio called Metalworks.
A metal head who had dreamed of recording a CD gave MacDonald a year of free rent in Phoenix. Someone with no money but a friendship with rock star Alice Cooper offered MacDonald an afternoon with the rock star in return for the year of free rent.

A massive Cooper fan gave McDonald a collector’s item from days when KISS was popular. And used it to buy the afternoon with his hero. The collector’s item was a KISS-themed motorized snow globe. The snow globe was coveted by the millionaire actor from LA Law fame, Corbin Bernsen. In exchange for the snow globe Bernsen used his connections to organize MacDonald a role in an upcoming film.

MacDonald, who wanted a house more badly than fame, traded his movie role with someone who wanted fame more than their house. And thus, on July 5, 2006, one year and 14 maneuvers later, Kyle MacDonald used his little red paper clip to buy a two story farmhouse in Kipling, Saskatchewan. And so, if you told MacDonald that the reason you don’t have a house is that you need an increase in income, he’d say “Poppycock, you just need to use what you already have.”

And believe it or not, that is exactly what Jesus said to his disciples in Luke 17. Well, not exactly. But when the disciples heard that they needed forgive a repeat offender seven times a day, they threw up their hands and asked Jesus to give them what they thought they lacked: faith to obey.

Luke 17:5  The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 

Jesus’ response?

 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 

In other words, you don’t need more faith or larger faith; you just need to use the faith you have. Just apply it and you can do anything and everything God tells you to.

The commentator William Hendriksen paraphrases the meaning as: “No task assigned to you by the Lord…would be impossible for you to accomplish, as long as you remain in trustful contact with God.

As the other great theologian, Yoda, sagely replied to Luke Skywalker when he bemoaned the size of the space ship Yoda wanted him to pluck from the swamp: “Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. ”

The force of faith isn’t about the size of the task, but the power of God.

Size matters not.

If God says do something, He will never be thwarted by your lack of resources.

Remember how Moses responded to a difficult instruction? God said Go tell Pharaoh to let my people go…

Exodus 4:10-12 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”  Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

God gives an instruction and Moses’ response is “This isn’t going to work, I lack what I need to obey that command. I have a speech impediment.” God says, “You’re in luck, guess what I do for a living—I make mouths.”

If God wants you to buy a house, you don’t need Him to increase your income. Even a paper clip, used rightly, can buy a house. And if God wants you to obey, you don’t need an increase in faith, if you are a believer you have enough faith. Just apply your faith and obey.

Clint Archer

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Clint has been the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church since 2005. He lives in Durban, South Africa with his wife and four kids.
  • Matt Rollings

    If you left the article at having enough faith to get stuff instead of having enough faith to obey…. You probably could have published it in charisma magazine or TBN 😉 Name it and claim it!

    • I should have stopped before I got to quoting the Scripture. Theology based on anecdotes is more pliable, easier to mold.

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  • Melissa Collins

    Another good blog! Thanks for the reminder 🙂

    • Thanks for your support!

  • M Sellers

    “As the other great theologian, Yoda…”

    I hope you meant that with thick sarcasm. :p

  • sankar

    good one.

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