There are times, actually many times, when I do not feel capable of doing what I’m called to do. I look at the day’s schedule of counseling and other commitments and say, “No, God, I can’t.” But as soon as I’ve brought him into the conversation, something changes.
The first thing that changes is that I realize that God agrees with me! It’s true. On my own I really am unable. But God has provided all I need to get through this day with the results that he desires. Right now I’m looking at my calendar and thinking “impossible.” I will sit with people who are suffering with difficult and painful situations. And then I’ll go home to house-related chores, relational loose ends, and decisions that need to be made. God, what have you provided for this day?
He’s provided this realistic view of myself.
Feeling unable is exactly where I need to be. That little conversation that just occurred between God and me actually set me up for a good day of counseling. If I had a self-centered “can-do” attitude that relied solely on my skill, knowledge, and energy, it would only serve to feed my pride and give me an air of superiority. What I need is a rock solid faith that God is able to do whatever he chooses, and today he may even accomplish something good through the likes of me.
He’s provided the book that reminds me.
God’s Word is available to me whenever I am smart enough to open it. It’s also become a part of me, so that I can refer to the wisdom and encouragement it contains simply by remembering what I’ve learned.
He’s provided the relationship that sustains me.
The Bible is not simply a book of wisdom and encouragement. It is a doorway to personally knowing the God who gives me breath. My desire to live with a continual awareness of his presence is key to having a mindset of “I can’t, but he can.”
Is that enough? Many Christians would say yes, it is. But I think I’d have to disagree. You see, we’re not created as independently capable creatures. “It is not good for the man to be alone” refers to every one of us. Describing us collectively as “the body of Christ” means that we need to be connected and dependent on each other. So, there is something else that God provides.
He’s provided other people… and sock puppets. Perhaps I need to explain that. At the 2013 CCEF National Conference, during a very light moment, our emcee, Winston Smith, asked a game show question.
Which would you most likely do when you are alone?
a) waltz around the room with the vacuum,
b) slide across the wood floor in stocking feet, or
c) stand on the coffee table with a sock puppet and pretend to be Ed Welch.
The audience was asked to text their answer. I don’t remember which one got the most votes, but I do remember how much trouble I had answering the question. The first two were no brainers—I do those all the time. But I actually pretend to be Ed a lot, too. Okay, not with a sock puppet and not standing on a table, but still, I do try to emulate Ed Welch in my counseling on a regular basis. Does that sound weird? It shouldn’t.
The Bible instructs us to imitate those who are living and working in the ways of Christ (1Cor 4:16, 11:1; 2Thess 3:7, 3:9; Heb 6:12, 13:7; 3John 1:11) and Ed is one of those people. God has also provided me with a church and family and friends to choose examples from as well. As I watch them all live and grow, and desire to be as effective in ministry as they are, I am consciously choosing to imitate them.
I am not alone as I face this day, and I am so very thankful for that.