George Washington Carver: That Special Place
Do you have a special place where you like to go when you are seeking an escape? It is that one place in this vast universe where you can go to find clarity when a major decision needs to be made, a haven of solitude when complete quiet is needed, or just a location where everything seems right with the world.
For many that place is as simple as an old, comfortable hammock in the backyard. For others, it is a walk in ankle deep foam along the ocean’s edge, or a run that challenges not only body but mind as well. Some people might even point to the complexity of an urban landscape constructed of concrete and steel as their special place. But I think most would agree that the appeal of such safe havens is not in the location but in what God reveals to you there.
That place for me is an out of the way beach in my hometown. As I bask in the beauty of its craggy existence, I always marvel at what God reveals to me through something as simple as the wind’s whisper or the cry of an osprey above my head. It is a place to dream, to reflect, to pray, but most importantly wait upon His guidance. And when He does, I am one.
In his book “The Lost Choice”, author Andy Andrews shares a story about George Washington Carver, a scientist best known for revolutionizing the southern agricultural economy by showing that hundreds of products could be derived from the peanut. Despite an intellectual capacity that far exceeded ordinary man, Carver found his strength not in science but in the consistent dialogue he had each morning with God in their special place.
According to Andrews, Carver was once faced with a highly volatile problem by his supervisor, who just happened to be Booker T. Washington, president of the Tuskegee Institute. The problem involved Carver’s decision to advise local farmers to plant peanuts rather than cotton. Decades of growing cotton had depleted the land into a virtual wasteland of withering weeds. His idea, which eventually became known as crop rotation, was to alternate soil depleting cotton crops with soil enriching crops such as peanuts. What Carver hadn’t factored into his plan was that there was no commercial appeal for the peanut at the time. Without a market for their crops, farmers would be left penniless.
Washington was fearful that due to the highly volatile nature of race relations in 1914, that the mostly white farmers would not hesitate to retaliate on the bad advice of a black scientist.
George Washington Carver was not worried. He turned to face his obviously worried mentor and said, “All my life, I have risen regularly at four in the morning to go into the woods and talk with God. That’s where He reveals His secrets to me. When everybody else is asleep, I hear God best and learn my plan … This morning I asked Him why He made the peanut.”
Washington looked at him incredulously but allowed Carver to continue.
“He told me, ‘separate the peanut into water, fats, oils, gums, resins, sugars, starches, and amino acids. Then recombine these under My three laws of compatibility, temperature, and pressure. Then, the Lord said, ‘then you will know why I made the peanut!”
Washington laughed nervously, obviously skeptical at Carver’s suggestion. Finally, with much anxiety he asked the humble scientist if God always gave him the right answers.
With a broad smile Carver replied, “Let me put it this way: The Lord always provides me with life changing ideas. Not that I am special. The Lord provides everyone with life changing ideas. These ideas are quite literally a treasure from the Almighty. It is up to each of us however, to choose and dig for the treasure.”
Within ten days George Washington Carver had “discovered” more than 300 uses for the peanut. One trip to that special place in the woods to talk with God not only enhanced race relations at the time but also fundamentally changed the agricultural industry as we know it today. All because he listened to and felt the spirit of God in his life.
In Zechariah 4:6 it says, “So he answered and said to me: ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
Our relationship with God is not dependent on human strength or power. We cannot effectively accomplish life’s tasks through determination alone. We can do so only by the power and spirit of God. As we have seen in the life of George Washington Carver, the power of God can move mountains, or in his case, help the world discover better ways to care for the land He created.
If you do not have one already I highly recommend you search for and find a special place to commune with God. Here is a tip; that special place begins with your heart.
Portions contained within this article from the Transformer Study Bible.