The Faith to Say, "I Can't"
I had a conversation with a friend about a month ago & I've been thinking about it ever since. This friend had been in ministry for a long time & was absolutely in love with Jesus. However, deep down, he felt like God was calling him to something that he was afraid to do. Of course he began to try to talk the fear down with faith - as anyone who loves Jesus would do.
God will give you faith when the time comes.
He will only send you when you are ready.
Look at all the great men & women who went before you - they were ordinary men & women just like you.
You are so much stronger than you think you.
Then, he came to the most "obvious" conclusion of all.
Your faith is not strong enough.
To be completely honest, I wasn't quite sure what to say. Nothing that I said had any real substance to it and seemed to provide little to no alleviation of discomfort. This was probably because I would have been thinking the same thing if I were in his position. Yet God, who is always faithful to those who seek Him in earnest, gave us both clarity [AMEN, HALLELUJAH]. By the end of our conversation, we both came to a conclusion - we needed to challenge our fundamental view of faith.
Having grown up in the [Korean American] church, I always thought faith was having the ability to do anything & everything for God. True faith looked like being able to surrender one's life wholly & completely for the sake of the gospel - to do what God calls us to do without complaint or hesitation. Judging by our conversation, my friend felt the same. However, what we saw as true faith was only a part of the picture.
Genuine faith is not just being able to say, "I CAN & I WILL," before God with false confidence. It is being able to come before God in humility & begin the conversation of, "I feel like I can't."
In Matthew 18, Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." [Matthew 18:3-4; NIV]
A couple of nights ago, we pulled up to our apartment after hanging out with some friends. Our first daughter, Adelyn, who is now 5, asked me to hold her because she "couldn't" walk. I wanted to tell her to get down & walk. I knew she had the strength. But when I looked into her eyes, I was immediately filled with compassion & held her to our apartment. There is something special about the confidence that children have in the intimacy they have with their parents.
Addy could have walked but, instead, I held her. Because I could. And she knew it. The goal of faith is not doing ... it's being. It's about knowing who we are & whose we are before understanding what we are capable of.
Faith is not just about action. It's about intimacy.
I believe that as the good Father, when we go before God & say, "I can't," He will either strengthen us with His words ... or He will take us up in His arms & carry us Himself - even when we can do it - because He loves us. He loves us.
God loved us before He commanded us to love Him.
God pursued us before He commanded us to follow Him.
God knew us before He invited us to come & know Him.
God's priority is, and always has been, relationship, not work.
The more we can understand this, the more the pressure of performing for God will be lifted off of our shoulders. The more we can understand this, the more confident we will be in approach God relationally rather than professionally.
So does this mean we be idle & just tell God we can't do anything/everything? Absolutely not. I believe that the more we come to know Him & how much He covers us - even in our weaknesses - that our desire to do great things for Him will grow. It is only when the need for performance outgrows the need for intimacy that we need to stop & realign ourselves to who God is and who we are to Him.
Do you feel God calling you to do something that seems overwhelming to you? Don't push yourself away from Him. Use this as an opportunity to exercise true faith - the faith to know that He can handle your honesty. That He loves you despite your "I can't."
Take a moment to share your heart with Him. He hears & understands. Let Him strengthen you. Let Him carry you.