A psychologist, an engineer, and a pastor went on a hunting trip to a very remote area. One day, as they were out hunting, they came upon a small cabin. Since the cabin appeared to be abandoned, and its door wasn’t locked, they thought nothing of investigating the place.
Once inside, they realized they had done wrong when they found that the cabin’s potbellied stove had the remains of a fire in it. But they weren’t nearly so worried about their breaking and entering as they were perplexed by the stove. To their amazement, it was not situated on the floor. Instead, it was hanging by wire from the ceiling, with the stovepipe running up through the roof.
The psychologist studied the scene for a moment and said, “I know why this mountain man has hung his stove like this. He’s done it so that he can sleep under it and feel the warmth radiating down upon him. Subconsciously, him sleeping under such warmth reminds him of when he was safe and secure in his mother’s womb. He’s obviously a bit frightened by the world.”
Such a suggestion, however, seemed ludicrous to the more practical engineer. He said, “No, no, that’s not it. By elevating his stove in this way, this man is using his heat source more efficiently because the heat will be distributed more evenly throughout the cabin. I have to give him credit. He’s really a smart fellow.”
The pastor, as might be expected, didn’t buy either one of those theories and provided a religious one. He said, “I think this elevated stove is the mountain man’s attempt to worship God. Since the dawn of history, mankind has used fire — fire for offering sacrifices, fire for worshiping at night, fire as a cleansing agent — in his attempts at worship. So, what this fellow has done is elevate his fire as a means of getting it nearer to God. In his mind, this makes for purer worship.
It was along about then that the mountain man came busting into the cabin, shotgun in hand, ready to fight. He demanded to know who the three men were and what they were doing in his home. Fortunately for them, his anger cooled once they explained their honest mistake. He even put down his shotgun and became downright cordial.
It was after some small talk that the visitors finally got around to the question they were dying to ask. The psychologist asked the man, “Sir, could you please tell us why you’ve hung your stove from wire from the ceiling? Each of us has an opinion on the matter, and we’d just like to know which one of us is right.” To that, the mountain man answered, “Oh that. I just had plenty of wire but not much stove pipe.”
Oftentimes the simplest answers are the ones we fail to consider. And so I ask you right now, Are you overthinking that certain situation or problem that has been perplexing you lately? Could it be that God has placed the answer right in front of you, but you, for whatever reason, are making the solution more elaborate and confusing than it has to be? I know that God is deep. I know that He is profound. And I know that His thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways. But even Jesus taught that if you ask God for bread, He won’t give you a stone, and if you ask Him for a fish, He won’t give you a serpent. (Matthew 7:9-11)