Have you ever been told “You can’t ___” and then you fill in the blank? Whether it’s you can’t be in the Olympics or you can’t have that last hot fudge sunday, many times when we are told we can’t do something, or don’t do something, we find our flesh saying, “Oh ya?”
It is evident in the life of many 2 year olds that this is often how our flesh works! I remember when my oldest daughter was not quite 2 and we were all sitting down to dinner in our home. Her high chair was close to the wall and she was sitting between her dad and I. We were having some kind of dinner with red sauce and my daughter thought it was a GREAT idea to help paint the off white walls red! I suppose she thought our walls were too boring and we needed an accent wall. My husband looked at our daughter and said, “No, don’t touch the wall.” Our little Miss gave him those big beautiful puppy dog eyes as if to say “Me, Daddy? I would NEVER disobey you!” We went back to chowing down on our delicious meal and we saw her once again stretch out her sauce covered hand to touch the wall. My husband again said, “No!” very calmly, but very stern as well. This time when she looked at her Daddy her eyes seemed to say, “Watch me” and she stuck out one chubby little finger and poked the wall. She was disciplined for doing this because it was direct disobedience, but it proves my point.
Sometimes there are instances when we are told “no” or “You can’t” or “Don’t” because it is for our own good and protection. Other times people tell us this because they want to discourage or they truly believe we can’t!
I shared with you in my previous post that my husband is reading a book entitled In Desert Places and in it the author, Paul Chappell shares many a story about his life and the lives of others. When he was in his late 20’s the Lord called him to Pastor a church that seemed to be headed down hill, it was in the desert and the church was actually about to foreclose! Many people, friends and family shared their opinions and tried to discourage him from taking this Pastorate. They honestly felt he was foolish for stepping in and taking over this crumbling church.
As my husband shared with me this story a thought struck me. First of all, everyone was looking at the situation. A foreclosing church is not an ideal situation to step into, living in the desert can be miserable (hello 118 degree summers!), and there literally seemed to be nothing there for this young pastor and his family. Second, those who were discouraging this young pastor were looking at him as a man. He was young, he had a good job already, he would have to move his family to the middle of no man’s land, and they felt he was not yet ready to take on a pastorate. They were looking at the man, instead of his GOD!
We were recently discouraged from being in ministry. My husband was actually told he had missed his calling and he needed to plug himself into a secular line of work. I am not saying that working a secular job is wrong, obviously a secular line of work is important! However, if my husband believes he is called to ministry then it would be wrong because he would be stepping outside of God’s will for his life. These words were very hurtful and discouraging and caused us to question our call and seek counsel. Maybe they are right, is what we thought. However, the problem with this is that the only thing we were looking at was ourselves.
My husband cannot Pastor a church in the way God intended by doing it himself, in his own strength. Looking at ourselves we see our flaws, we see our weaknesses, but the problem is, when we are looking at ourselves we are not looking at God! We get tunnel vision and seem to only see what we “can’t” instead of what God says we “can” through Him!
Look at the story of Peter in the New Testament. Here these disciples were in a boat out on the water and off in the distance they saw a man, walking on the water! That would truly be something to see, would it not! Peter called out and asked if he could walk on the water out to Jesus and he did! He put one leg over the side of the boat and landed on the water, only it didn’t sink. Slowly he put his other leg over the side of the boat and soon, he was standing on his own two feet on top of the water. Can you imagine?! He took his first step, then his second and third all the while his eyes were on Christ. But then out of the corner of his eye he saw the waves, he saw the vastness of the body of water, he saw how far he would have to walk to reach Jesus, he looked all around him at his circumstances and began thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?” and what began to happen? He began to sink. He took his eyes off of the One who was holding him up and he sank like rock. He cried out to Jesus for help and our good Lord helped him.
That is kind of like how my husband and I have been this past month. Before this month we knew we are supposed to be in ministry. Before this month came we had no doubts. But once these words were spoken to us, once the circumstances of our lives was turned upside down we took our eyes off of the one who called us to this in the first place. We put our eyes on ourselves and realized “No, we can’t!” and the weight of discouragement, defeat, and heartbreak began pulling us down into a sinking quick sand. We began to doubt God’s calling on our lives only because of one man’s opinion.
The truth is, we can’t! Looking at ourselves we definitely cannot do God’s work on our own! But here’s the thing, greater is he that is in me!! 1John 4:4 “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world”. God CAN use us. God CAN work through us. God WILL work through us if we are emptied of ourselves and allow Him to! I can’t, but HE CAN!
I have an amazing God living inside of me! I have a God who, despite my serious failings and flaws, WANTS to use my life! One mans opinion is just that, one man’s opinion. Ultimately, what is important is what GOD thinks on the matter. Men can lead us to Christ, men can be used of God, but men can also lead us away from what God wants for us and men can fail us. That just comes with human nature. God never fails though. God never leads us astray. God will direct our steps every step of the way if we put ourselves aside and simply trust and obey.
This man was right, we CAN’T, but he failed to remember that GOD CAN!