So, I began to think about friends of mine, maybe some family members, and people I used to know (and because of the beauty of Facebook still keep in some contact with), and I wondered what it is they believed in. I began to think about things they don’t believe in and things they used to believe but now don’t for one reason or another. Then I began to think about myself, and ask those same questions… what do I believe, what don’t I believe, what have I never believed?
It’s interesting that I spend a great deal of time thinking about what I believe, but almost no time about the things I don’t. The things I don’t believe, I just don’t… I dismiss them and they are out of my mind nearly as quickly as they entered. There are exceptions of course, but I think that is the way many things are for us.
For example, I have never believed in Santa Claus… Now, I know there was an actual St. Nicolas (I’ve been to his tomb in fact), but as far as believing there was a fat, jolly man living at the North Pole riding on a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer… No, never believed it. My parents never perpetuated the story with me, and to be honest I am no worse for the wear. In fact, I love Christmas (ask my wife if I don’t get into the holiday seriously), and I am not one of those who is anti-Santa Claus and elves… but believing that has never been part of it for me. Some, if not most of you don’t share that experience…
I have never believed in the Tooth-Fairy, Easter Bunny, Great Pumpkin (for all you Charlie Brown fans)… but those are easy ones.
I have also never believed the old adage: “You can do anything you set your mind to.” You’ve probably heard that statement as a child, and probably followed a conversation where you said, “I can’t…” You may believe that statement, but it needs some serious qualification, because it just isn’t true.
Think about it for a moment before you totally write me off… Think about anything that you want to do, anything you want to be, any place you want to go, and right now set your mind to it, walk out the door and do it… see what happens. Take me for example, I love basketball. I play off and on, and still to this day, when I pick up a ball I think about what it would be like to play professionally. But I’m knocking on the door of 30, I’m vertically-challenged, haven’t seriously played in years, and have little to no jumping ability left. I could set my mind to it, walk out the door, try-out for some pro or semi-pro team, and do the very best I could, and what would happen? I wouldn’t make it. No question. And That’s okay.
Now, what’s my point? My point is our motivation is all wrong. When we tell kids things like that what we’re trying to do is get them not quit simply when things get difficult or tough, and that’s a good thing. We should all, even in adulthood, try new things, and we shouldn’t quit simply when things don’t go well the first time. But to say that on our own we can do ANYTHING, sets us up for false expectations that are impossible to achieve.
See, even the Bible says in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” But we tend to focus on “I can do all things” part and forget the qualifier they must be done in God’s strength. With God in control, there are things that he will and things he will not allow us to do. And even the things he allows us to do may not turn out the way we expect. But those things are always for his greater glory and for our ultimate good.
I think Paul gives us a better motto to live by in 1 Corinthians 10:31 when he says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” That will keep us trying hard, trying new things, but keep us humble in the process… realizing we have nothing on our own, and that it all comes from God.