Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

How big is your God?


"Is there anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14)

By Bishop Robert E. Hayes Jr.

Too often I find God’s supremacy has become tiny and remote in the eyes of many Christians. I find limitations placed on God, reflecting weakness in faith and an inability to believe that, with God, nothing is impossible.

Just in case you minimize the power and might of the God we serve, let me share a story that confirms my belief God can do anything!

This true story comes from Paul Harvey Jr., the well-known TV and radio personality. He wrote about an event that is either the most phenomenal coincidence to ever occur—or must have been an act of God.

It took place in the tiny town of Swan Quarter, N.C. Some 125 years ago, the Methodists of Swan Quarter had no church building. Several times, the members had petitioned a shrewd, prosperous landowner, seeking to build on the choicest real estate on high ground near the town, but to no avail.

The only available property to them was a plot of low-lying land on Oyster Creek Road.

Finally, construction began at that site on a modest white-frame building, propped upon brick pilings. The work was completed in the summer of 1876, and on Sept. 16, a Sunday, a joyous dedication ceremony was held.

Three days later, a terrible storm lashed Swan Quarter. All day that Wednesday, the wind howled and the rain came down in a gray wall of water. By nightfall, much of the town was flooded, roofs were ripped from homes, and devastation was everywhere. The storm raged on through the night and into a bleak morning.

Spectacle after the storm

By Thursday afternoon the wind subsided, and the rain all but stopped. An uneasy calm settled on the town. The residents of Swan Quarter pushed back window shutters and peered out from what was left of their homes.

Most saw only desolation in a town that had been ravaged by nature. Except those with views of Oyster Creek Road. What they saw was truly incredible.

The church—the Swan Quarter Methodist Church, the whole building, intact—was floating down the street! Flood waters had lifted the entire structure from the brick pilings on which it rested. The church was slowly, silently, moving along Oyster Creek Road.

Within minutes, concerned citizens were sloshing about in the street, waist-deep in the waters, fighting the currents, struggling to reach the still-moving church so they could moor it with lengths of rope. The ropes were fastened, but their efforts failed. There was no remaining anchor structure to restrain the floating chapel.

As the building moved down the street, it drew more attention, and more aid was enlisted, but all to no avail. The waters bore the church onward.

Following Oyster Creek Road, the building reached the center of the town. Dozens of people watched, amazed, as the Swan Quarter Methodist Church, still adrift, made a sharp, inexplicable right turn and continued down that road. It seemed as though the chapel was alive, intently moving on its own.

For two more blocks, the townspeople unsuccessfully fought to anchor it with the ropes. They could only gape as yet another mysterious shift occurred in the route. The church veered off the road, seemingly steered itself to the center of a vacant lot, and there stopped.

To this day, the people of Swan Quarter cannot explain how the Methodist church ended up on the town’s choicest piece of property—the same piece of land they had begged for on many occasions.

The next morning, after discovering the church in the middle of his lot, that balky landowner went to the Methodist minister and, with trembling hands, presented him with the property deed.

God at work

This amazing story is just one of many that demonstrate God’s work among us. The stories are not always as dramatic as that about the Swan Quarter Methodist Church. Yet each and every day, God is turning the ordinary into the extraordinary, and the impossible into the possible.

I serve a God who is able to do anything!

On page after page, the Scriptures remind us that we do not serve a one-size-fits-all God. I have come to understand that the size of God is determined by the space God occupies in your life. If the God you serve only exists within a small area of your being, people will see that.

And if the God you serve is larger than life and is evidenced through your faith and your deeds, people will see that as well.

In Genesis 18, three strangers approached Abraham and Sarah. When they told the couple God would keep a promise by providing them a son despite their advanced ages, Sarah laughed. The messenger from God—an angel—asked, "Is there anything too hard for the Lord?"

Take that question with you these next few days. Reflect on what God has already done in your life and what God is doing each day. You’ll discover, as I have, that there can be only two possible answers: Coincidence—or God at work!

(Source: "More of Paul Harvey’s ‘The Rest of the Story,’" Bantam Books, July 1981, pages 190-192)


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