During my first year tutoring fifth-graders, I met Miranda. Miranda had a cute little smile and the biggest heart in town. She also had a sense of humor and a unique way of looking at things.
For her science project, she and I decided to make a solar cooker out of a cylinder-shaped Quaker-oatmeal container. She cut one side of the container off, leaving the two ends and about two-thirds of the body intact. On the inside, she lined it with aluminum foil; and on the center of each end, she poked a hole just big enough to stick a wire through.
For several days, we loaded the cooker with hot dogs and marshmallows. We kept track of the temperature outside, the amount of sunshine, and the time it took to “brown” our hot dogs or melt our marshmallows. We tried cooking with no lid on our oven versus cooking with a lid. Toward the end, we even added a thermometer to record the temperature inside the oven.
As Miranda became comfortable around me, she said and did whatever came to mind without fear that I would be offended. I liked that because I didn’t want kids to feel uncomfortable around me. I wanted them to see that although I had physical limitations, I was just a normal guy.
One day while we were working on her project, the wind blew Miranda’s papers everywhere. I felt helpless as I watched her hurry around the yard picking up papers. She ran back towards me, picked up my hand, and put all her papers underneath it. With a sheepish grin, she said, “You make a good paperweight.”
Finding things I was useful for became a fun game we played the rest of the year. She discovered my lap made a good shopping cart to carry all her stuff. My feet made a doorstop when nothing else would hold the door open.
This was my first experience working with a child on a science project, but we were both rewarded. Miranda earned a gold medal in the science fair, and I learned some important life lessons. If I would look beyond my physical limitations, I could find many new ways to be useful. Even though I could never be used for the things I once took so much pride in doing, and often saw myself as worthless, the truth was, I was not worthless. I needed to stop focusing on all the things I could no longer do and look for things I could do.
In Ephesians 2:10 Pauls says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Remind yourself of this today. Regardless of what seems to be causing you to feel limited and worthless, God can use you to accomplish great things.