The past 15 months have been quite an interesting leg of my journey to say the least. I have experienced parts of life I never would have and have seen parts of me I never would have had it not been for God’s re-direct in my life.
While there have been any number of humbling aspects for me, one of them was seeing how often I have expressed words and/or attitudes that when reduced to their most basic thought could be summarized by “I can’t…”
Throwing in the towel.
In the “big picture” sense, that hasn’t been true at all. I do keep trudging along, believing and hoping the best, and looking for God’s hand in my life (and the life of my family). Where it shows up is in the little things.
I have said it when trying to add a section of rebar to an existing structure while working with the concrete crew. It can’t be done. It won’t fit.
I have said it when trying to zone and stock merchandise at Walmart. I can’t find it. It won’t fit on the shelf.
Etc. and ad nauseam…
What I am usually saying is that I have exhausted the time and energy I am willing to give to accomplishing whatever it is I am working on. Any more effort isn’t worth my time and energy.
Obviously there are times when “I can’t” is perfectly appropriate. Usually it is not. Usually it is because of my unwillingness to do something that isn’t easy, that takes extended mental or physical effort, that takes asking questions and admitting my need for input. Mostly though, it is because the desire required to go the extra mile is lacking. In reality I am asking myself, is this task (whatever it is) worth it? Is it important enough?
What it comes down to is a combination of belief and desire. Do I believe what I am trying to do is genuinely important and do I truly want to get it done? Rarely does it come down to ability.
Usually “I can’t” means “I won’t”.
I have come face to face with this reality as I have once again been studying and preaching the first letter from Peter. As he unpacks the theme of standing firm in grace (1st Peter 5:12), Peter makes it abundantly clear that God’s grace given through the work of Christ in us perfectly equips, empowers, and enables us to obey what God’s Word instructs us to be and do.
The indisputable fact is God’s provision for me. The only variables are my fear of God and my commitment to following Him.
I can actively love people.
I can be treated unfairly and unjustly without responding in kind.
I can submit to those in authority no matter their character.
I can honor my spouse no matter how they treat me.
I can be a witness through my good behavior.
I can explain the hope I have based on what God’s Word promises and what His Word reveals about Him.
Do I want to though? Do I value His glory more than my pride, my comfort, and my will? Do I follow the redemptive, eternal purposes of Jesus or do I merely claim His forgiveness so I can go to heaven?
Do I worship Him or do I worship myself?
It is a question I must answer every minute of every day.