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Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Pencil-in-the-Blender Problem

Bruce and I were snuggled up the other evening, reading the March 2011 issue of Reader's Digest when we came upon this notable quote: "Suppose you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put inside a blender. How would you get out?" (This was an interview question posed by an analyst at Goldman Sachs.)
I thought about it for a few minutes. My solutions began typically as:
Well, I could step up onto the blades and jump up and try to reach the brim of the blender. . .
or what if I had something that I could balance on and so reach the edge and pull myself out?
Then I thought, that's what most people would come up with; there's got to be a more out-of-the-box type of answer.
So I thought about the blender more.
Maybe the blender is not resting on its base. Maybe the blender is lying on its side. The interview question did not specifically state that the blender is standing up; I simply saw it that way, as probably most people would. Imagining the blender in different positions gave me a whole lot of different solutions. What if the blender were turned upside-down? Then, the necessity of escape becomes more time sensitive due to the limited supply of oxygen inside the blender. Could I wedge my foot under the lip of the blender and allow fresh air inside? Would I be strong enough to push the blender over and escape?

Thinking about problems from a different perspective often brings novel solutions. How many of you, when posed this interview question pictured the blender in the upright --on its base --position?

The ability to look at problems from more than one perspective is valuable in business, science, or just about anything.
As Believers, we have the unique opportunity to view problems from heaven's perspective. Because we have God's Word and God's Spirit residing in us, we can climb up on a mountain, so to speak, and view the terrain below. We do not have to be limited by our human eyes.
Old patterns of thought are usually deeply entrenched. It sometimes doesn't occur to us to adopt another way of thinking or viewing.
Until a solution escapes us.

Who would have thought that dying (Christ's death) produces life?
Who would think that losing one's life for the sake of Christ, giving sacrificially, submitting, humbling, being last, praying for those who hurt you, blessing those who persecute you,
are a better solution?
These all seem counter-intuitive. Don't they? They're a new paradigm, presented by an Eternal and Omniscient God.
God's Word tells us to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:1)
Just like the solutions to the problem of being stuck in the blender, the solutions to life's problems require a new mind, and a new heart.
Next time you're stuck, check out God's solutions. They seem crazy at first.
But they work.


  1. I love this!
    Of course I pictured the blender upright, too.
    But perspective is everything.

  2. Thanks, Kay. I'd love to take a poll to find out how many people first pictured the blender in an upright position.

  3. The Christian life does seem a paradox, doesn't it? I must lose everything, so I can gain everything? Astounding. But as a dear elderly saint used to say, "It works! It works!" By the way, I pictured the blender upright.

  4. Yep, Nancy, paradoxical. BTW, everyone so far has said: blender upright.

  5. God seems to give us a variety of options to deal with our individual and unique problems. He may have a thousand different ways for us to get out of the blender and all are within His will. People climb out of life's blender and come to Christ in a million different ways. I think they call that a personal testimony? :-)

    Take care Dena and have a great weekend :-)


  6. I agree, Ron. The problem is, we get stuck in our same old thought patterns and it's very difficult to get into a new paradigm.