One of my favourite films is ‘Three Amigos’. This spoof western shows three actors playing the part of heroes and then being thrust into what they assume is another film, only to find the villagers of Santo Poco expect them to rescue them from a real band of ruffians, led by El Guapo. Needless to say, the three heroes (played by Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short) turn out to be just as amazing as their alter egos on screen and save the day… thanks to some help from the feisty villagers.

This morning, Garry talked about knowing our weaknesses and strengths. If you’re like me, knowing your weaknesses is relatively easy. They stare you in the face all day long. Knowing your strengths is another thing altogether. What is perhaps even harder is wondering how God can use your strengths, since they seem so utterly ordinary and even banal to us!

I was reminded of a scene in ‘Three Amigos’ where the villagers finally have to stop running and come up with a plan of action against El Guapo. They are challenged by the Three Amigos to use the skills and the talents of the people. ‘What is it that this town does really well?’ they are asked. There is musing and bewilderment amongst the people, who clearly don’t think they have any skills or talents, until one woman tentatively says ‘We can sew.’

Clearly, this was not the answer that our heroes were looking for! But, true to form, they remember a scene from a previous film they have made and enlist the help of all the villagers in sewing costumes like their own sparkling black and silver outfits for everyone, so that when El Guapo and his band of marauders arrive, they will be utterly confused and defeated. This cunning ploy saves the day and El Guapo is defeated!

‘Three Amigos’, ‘We can sew!’ scene

Our strengths may seem equally unremarkable. How can God use my talents? How can a talent for making the tea or washing up really count in God’s kingdom? How can an administrative skill be really useful? How can physical strength be used in a day when we’re no longer knocking down the walls of cities? We tend to denigrate our talents and see them as ordinary, mundane, not special. Someone else’s skills seem so much more impressive.

But God has a habit of using whatever we give Him and can turn our ordinariness into something quite extraordinary when He is introduced into the equation. The little boy’s packed lunch fed a huge amount of people when surrendered to Jesus. God does not ask us to be anything other than who we are when we come to Him. All He wants is for us to give Him what we have. As the Christmas carol goes:

“What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part.
Yet what can I give Him?
Give my heart.” (Christina Rossetti, ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’)

Let’s not downplay (or over-inflate) our strengths. Let’s simply give them to God, however ordinary they seem, and watch Him do amazing things with ordinary talents (even those like sewing.) You will be surprised at the results!