Nothing is Impossible…

“For nothing will be impossible with God.”  

(Luke 1:37) 

Try this. Lift your right foot off the ground and begin circling it in a clockwise direction. While you continue to move your foot in circles, draw a six with your finger in the air two times. Did your foot change direction? For most people it is impossible for your foot to be moving clockwise while your finger is moving counterclockwise, which happens when you draw the number six. Was that true for you? Here is a simpler experiment. Stick out your tongue and try and touch it to your nose. Can you do it? Ask a friend or family member to try. Can they do it?  

These are silly things that are impossible for most of us to do. They make us laugh as we try to do them. However, there are other things in our lives that are not silly but are equally impossible for us. There are some things we just cannot do. For us they are impossible.  

When you face things that are impossible it can bring up many questions. What will happen if we cannot make ends meet? Will my wayward child ever come back to the Lord? Will I always be alone? Will I get better? What if my friend or family member never comes to know Jesus? These questions can turn to hopelessness. But that hopelessness is a result of looking at the impossible situation rather than at the God of impossibilities. Our God is not limited by the realities of a situation. 

The passage of Scripture above is quoted from the book of Luke, but they are the words of Mary the mother of Jesus. Mary was an unwed teenaged virgin when an angel came to her with a message. If a visit from an angel was not shocking enough, the message the angel brought certainly was. In fact, the angel’s message seemed completely impossible. Mary was to have a son! And not just a son but this child would become the savior of the world. When the angel told her what would happen he reminded her of a crucial truth. “Nothing will be impossible with God.” This is a reminder we all need at various times of our lives; not in the times when we are trying to touch our nose with our tongue, but on those days when God’s promises seem impossible. When your situation feels beyond repair, when a heart seems as cold as ice, when you cannot imagine things turning around, remember this truth: “Nothing will be impossible with God.”

Whatever God has promised will happen. Even if his plans are not what we expect, he promises to work all things for our good (Romans 8:28-29). What feels impossible in your life right now? Trust God with your impossibilities.  Nothing is too difficult for him. He will either make it happen or give you all that is needed to endure.

A Needed Disappointment for the New Year

We are addicted to self-sufficiency. Without even realizing it we are all junkies for independence. The beginning of the new year is often a time when this becomes even more evident. It’s the time when we are bombarded with encouragement to reflect and resolve. The hope is that in the New Year we will reach a greater level of self-improvement or attain a lasting commitment to live better. The turning of a year seems to put us on a quest to become all that we wish we could be.

I am not at all opposed to the New Year being a time of reflection and goal setting. I do this every year and find it helpful. In fact, I have already spent time considering what I things I hope to try to start or at least do differently this year. It was in my New Year planning that I stumbled on a much-needed disappointment from a passage of Scripture. The message I read loud and clear was: I cannot do it! I am insufficient!

Before you stop reading and before you think the Bible throws a wet blanket on all the New Year’s resolutions, let me explain.

In our effort pursue a change, develop a skill, or embark on a new self-improvement routine, God holds out this necessary disappointment. He gives a needed reminder that provides warning and perspective. It is possible that all our resolve and effort could be in vain. Here is what I read.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.

It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:1-2

Three times he says these efforts are in vain. He doesn’t say our efforts are bad, just that there is a way to do them that will prove pointless. When we seek to do anything in our own strength independent of God, no matter how good that thing is, it is in vain. We cannot do it. Why? Because we are insufficient.

We are not able to become our best selves on our own. Our best life comes in complete dependence on the God who made us. Yet we still try. Self-reflection is helpful and plans for personal improvement can be beneficial, but this can also lead to more striving, specifically when we resolve in our own strength.

So, in this dawn of a new year, embrace not being enough. Feast at the table of dependence where our heavenly Father provides all that is needed. With this mindset move toward your plans with open hands. Lay your resolves and aspirations before the Lord and remember that unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain.

Motivation, self-reflection, planning and goal setting can be fruitful. But in our own strength these all miss the mark and we end up only feeding our natural disposition to make much of ourselves rather than making much of Christ. Instead plan with a dependent disposition. Embrace the needed disappointment that your efforts are insufficient on your own and instead look to the Lord to establish the work of your hands.

When You Don’t Know What To Do

There have been times in my life where I have felt overwhelmed by what I was facing. The circumstance or situation felt too big or too difficult and I really had no idea what to do. My guess is that I am not the only one who has felt that way.

We face things in this life that lead us to that hopeless place where we cannot see a way through. Life can be that hard.

Let me tell you what has transformed my heart and given me hope in the midst of those “I don’t know what to do!” times of life. Take a listen to this ten minute podcast as I share what has helped me. I hope and pray it will encourage you when you find yourself in that place.

God’s Grace in Your Suffering by David Powlison- Video Review

This excellent resource brings compassionate wisdom to those facing trials and suffering. Author, David Powlison offers hope on every single page of this very readable book. Check out my review here and then go order it from Crossway today!