Here’s the scene: The vacuum cleaner hums loudly as you fan out farther and farther from the electrical outlet.  One hand guides the vacuum, your free hand holds the cord dragging behind you.  Eventually your vacuuming arm extends, the cord grows taut, and then…silence.  You have come unplugged.

I have a theory.  Companies that make vacuum cleaners sneak into the average American home and measure the distance from a central electrical outlet to the farthest corner of a carpeted room.  They take that distance and build their vacuum cleaner with a cord that is 17 inches too short.

I’m just sayin’ – you could always use an extra couple feet of cord while vacuuming.

I have another theory.  God measured the reach of the average human, and then placed him in a world where his natural abilities to meet the needs of others will fall short.  I respond to this conundrum in a variety of ways…

  • Sometimes I ask God for a “smaller world with fewer messes.”  Maybe God made a mistake by placing me in a world with so many needs – needs that I am unable to reach and meet.
  • There are other times I cast a jealous glance at the incredible reach and wonderful accomplishments of others, which leaves me wondering why my cord comes up short.
  • At other times I come unplugged, but I keep going through the motions.  I hope those around me don’t notice the ineffectiveness of my powerless, silent sweeping.

None of these responses is healthy.  So what can I do about it?

The key for me is locating another “outlet.”  For example, I can’t expect to plug in to God on Sunday and expect to reach those who have needs in the far corner of Friday.  For that matter, I’m realizing I can’t make it through the morning without intentionally locating and plugging into spiritual outlets that keep me connected to God.  What makes this simple concept so counter-cultural is that overextending ourselves is, strangely, an American value.

At my house I know how far the vacuum cord reaches.  And I know exactly where the outlets are located.  Some are easily accessible, and others are hidden behind furniture.  But the key is that I know where I can find an outlet when I need it.

Know your life.  Know where outlets are, or need to be, located.  Rearrange furniture, activities, people or whatever blocks access to those ways you can plug in to God.

Do NOT withdraw into a smaller world of fewer needs.  Do NOT waste time comparing yourself with the accomplishments and expectations of others who have had a far reaching impact.  Do NOT go through the motions of an ineffective, listless life.

Do… realize that the gap between your natural reach and the world’s greatest need can only be measured by grace.  Locate an outlet.  Plug in to God.