Sometimes we conclude we’re unable to do something, either because we haven’t really tried, or because we did try, but in the wrong way. As a child I assumed it was impossible for me to untangle fishing lines. They usually ended up in a large complicated knot before the afternoon of fishing had come to an end. Because I believed I couldn’t really undo the knot I’d give it a go, but only half-heartedly. As a rule I’d soon resort to pulling the line as hard as I could, in the hope that this would solve the problem. But it never worked.
Now I’ve resumed the pursuit of catching fish I have to deal with the tangled fishing line again. But, having grown older, I now believe that with the right approach (nearly) every knot can be undone. Understandably, my success rate in untangling is now a lot higher! Apart from being older we could say it’s really due to a change in belief (it is possible) and a changed approach (one involving patience and endurance!).
When I was visiting our children’s school I noticed a sign on the wall which read: ‘Don’t say you can’t until you have tried and discover that you can!’ I remember being very pleased that this was an attitude the school sought to impart in my children and said to myself: “The sound of this sentence could be improved, but not its truth”.
All too often we respond to God’s commands in a despondent way. We might say something like: “It’s too hard for me. I’m not good enough. This can’t possibly be done by me.” We may even decide not to try. But when God gives a command we would do well to remember two things.
First off, He’ll never ask us to do anything He wouldn’t do Himself. When He asks us to serve, Jesus has already stooped lower than we ever will (Philippians 2:6-8). When He asks us to bring a sacrifice, Jesus has already paid more than we will ever have to (1 Peter 2:24). When He asks us to resist temptation, we know that he was tempted Himself in each and every way (Hebrews 4:15). So we don’t have a God who shouts at us from a distance, requiring others to obey His whims. Rather we have a God who leads by example, who’s full of integrity, and who only asks things of us which His Son has already led the way in.
But this isn’t all. He also provides the power within us to fulfill His will. As it says: ‘for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose’ (Philippians 2:13). God knows very well that we’re unable to do everything He asks of us. We, too, know that all of us fail to keep His will. But there’s hope. His Spirit in us will work out that which He wants. But here’s the catch: we must yield to Him. We must give Him access into every area of our lives, and give Him complete control. And truth be told: that’s scary and sometimes difficult- but not impossible.
So, as we grow in maturity and learn more and more about Him, may we learn to say less and less “it’s not possible” and more and more “Lord, I simply don’t know how to do it - but I believe You can help me.” Perhaps in this way we can discover that with God nothing is impossible - even for us!
Prayer: Father, I’m sorry for all those times I’ve never even tried to do Your will. Please help me to have the right attitude towards Your commands. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.
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