On Faith: Rube Goldberg Machine

I struggled for a while on how to teach Hebrews 11:20-22 to the Attic After School kids. The first challenge was to figure out what in the world these verses had to do with faith. Before this we saw great acts of faith from Noah and Abraham – guys who really went out on a limb to please God.

These verses are about Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph doing something that by comparison, seems a lot less daring – giving speeches before they died. Isaac is blessing Jacob. Jacob is blessing Joseph’s sons. And Jospeh is giving instructions about his bones. Bo-ring.

As I considered it further, though, I realized that, while admittedly less daring, these actions still required considerable faith – faith in what God was going to do in the future after their death. They weren’t just giving speeches, they were prophesying. They weren’t just prophesying based on particular knowledge (well, maybe Joseph was) but based on the promises of God – specifically, the promise made to Abraham.

These men didn’t just have faith that God could work in their life individually, but that he was working in history, from generation to generation.

Once I figured that out, the next challenge was to figure out how to communicate it to the Attic After School kids. The challenge was this – how do I help them understand that they can have faith that God is BIG, that his plan is BIG, and that we can trust Him with that whole plan, not just what happens in our lives individually? 

Then I thought of a Rube Goldberg Machine where each part plays a small (but essential role) in the whole process. Rube Goldberg Machines are characterized by meticulous design. Every part needs to work exactly right at exactly the right time. Standing alone, no part makes sense, together, it is fascinating to behold.

So I did a little YouTube search and, viola, this awesome video from OK Go. I’ve seen it before and it’s pretty incredible, along with many of their other videos. It’s a great example of a Rube Goldberg Machine and I’m excited to show it to the kids this afternoon.

Final note: All metaphors breakdown and this one does too. A Rube Goldberg machine is an impersonal, deterministic process but God fulfills His plan in a personal, dynamic way – all the more reason to trust in His goodness.