FAITH AND REFLECTION — George Washington Carver was a remarkable man. A prominent scientist and inventor in the early 1900s, he was referred to as “George Washington Carver, man of science, man of God.” Born into slavery his birth date is not known, but he died in 1943 at the approximate age of 80.
Unlike many who become well-known after their demise, Carver was eminently known in his own day. He and cereal entrepreneur, John Kellogg corresponded frequently. He was personal friends with Henry Ford. Mahatma Gandhi took his advice on how to renew his strength in between hunger strikes. And he was hired, by the famous educator Booker T. Washington, to manage the agricultural department at the Tuskegee Institute.
He cared little for money, patenting only a few of his inventions. He said that the patenting process would take up all of his time and energy. He was noted for being dressed modestly, if not somewhat shabbily and at one point he turned down a very lucrative job offer from Thomas Edison.
Carver did care about God. He related that he became a believer at about age 10 and tried to follow the Lord all of his life. He believed that his faith in God and science were collaborative and he integrated both into his life.
Carver called his laboratory “God’s little workshop.” He said that one day in that lab, he prayed, asking God to explain the universe to him. Feeling that this request would be too much to handle, he then asked for an understanding of man, and again he felt his request was too grandiose. Finally he prayed, “God, would you tell me what you made peanuts for?”
Whether the account was intended to be allegorical, comical or literal is left for us to speculate. However, what is not left to speculation is that Carver discovered approximately 300 uses for peanuts. Something else that is certain, is that Carver gave God the credit for his discoveries. He said of his research and discoveries, “Without God to draw aside the curtain, I would be helpless.”
Carver made butter, oil, cheese, dye, face powder, breakfast food, printer’s ink, pickles, instant coffee, axle grease and about 280 other things from peanuts. All of these products were in the peanut already, but Carver got them out.
Well, we are not peanuts, but when we believe in Christ all that we need to be, to become, to accomplish – they are in us already. We need to believe in and rely upon God so that He can get them out!
“Jesus … power has given us everything we need to live a life devoted to God. We have these things because we know Him. Jesus chose us by His glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3)