My dog, Henry, doesn’t believe in the word “impossible.” One day we walk past a lake and Henry spots some geese swimming happily about. His predator instinct kicks in, and he bursts toward them, nearly ripping the leash from my grasp.
Never mind that they’re twenty yards out from shore and have a clear head start. He can get them. Absolutely.
Never mind that their fat goose bodies float effortlessly, and Henry swims like an anvil.
He. Will. Prevail.
Never mind that if all else fails, those birds can spread their wings and fly.
That just means Henry has to jump really, really high.
Sometimes I think the dog is an idiot. But sometimes I yearn for his enthusiasm. Oh, to be so willing to overlook reason.
This is exactly what God called the Israelites to do when He brought them out of Egypt to the Promised Land. A bunch of former slaves with no military training were supposed to conquer the land of fierce, experienced warriors. Impossible.
Let’s face it, the Israelite resume would read: Can make bricks from straw. Experienced walkers. Good at grumbling.
They arrived at the border of the Promised Land and sent out twelve spies (Numbers 13), who reported the land was bountiful and beautiful. There was just one teensy problem. Big, scary natives with no intention of leaving.
What did the Israelites expect? Wimpy people? No people? People who said, “Hi, there. Please plunder us”?
Only two spies were willing to overlook the difficulties. The rest of the Israelites got stymied with the impossible and refused to follow God’s directions.
The result was a forty-year tour in the wilderness, with Israelites dropping left and right from plagues, venomous snakes, and attacks from disgruntled neighbors.
With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to say I’d have been all over that Promised Land routine. Sign me up for the front lines. But could I have really stared down the wrong end of a bloody sword and not panicked?
I’m glad I wasn’t there to find out. Except there’s really no escaping the question, because doesn’t God still call us to do impossible things? If we’re really listening, won’t God thrust some opportunity at us that forces us into the territory of big, scary obstacles? Maybe it’s a new and unnerving ministry we’re not sure we can handle. Maybe it’s a career or job change with an unforeseeable future. Or what about a mission trip to someplace decidedly uncomfortable? Unsafe? Impossible?
News flash: Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).
Maybe we need to quit thinking so much, quit dwelling on reasons we could fail. Those reasons will always be there. I mean, what do we expect? Wimpy hurdles? No hurdles? The whole deal is going to be stinking hard. The sooner we absorb that piece of info, the better.
What happens if we go for it? If we close our eyes and take a flying leap off the edge of rationality? Isn’t that right where God wants us—anvils heading for deep water, trusting God to make us float.
He can do that.
(Check out the Today’s Christian Women Blog if you want to see where my article first appeared)
Robin PatchenMarch 8, 2013 at 9:51 am (10 years ago)
Great article, Erin. That’s exactly what God wants from us–to enthusiastically chase the geese without regard to the water or the fact that they have wings! Love the visual with Henry.
Erin Taylor YoungMarch 8, 2013 at 10:24 am (10 years ago)
Thanks, Robin. Funny what a noncompliant dog like Henry can teach me. : )
Darlene FranklinMarch 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm (10 years ago)
This is great, Erin! Love it.
One of my favorite upside-down verses comes from Acts, where someone says it was impossible for Christ to remain in the grave. Because of course that is contrary to what is possible. It was impossible for Him NOT to stay here. But God . . . .
Darlene FranklinMarch 9, 2013 at 4:52 pm (10 years ago)
And hey, where did you get that cool and sensible verification software? much better than illegible words that don’t form letters.
Erin Taylor YoungMarch 9, 2013 at 4:55 pm (10 years ago)
I use a WordPress plugin called Sweetcaptcha. It’s fun. : )
DianaMarch 10, 2013 at 9:09 am (10 years ago)
Enjoyed your article. Henry probably doesn’t even care he was your diving board to deep thoughts on spiritual life. 🙂 I am often an anvil myself, so thanks for the reminder.
(And I too like your sweet captcha)
Darrell (aka "Dad")March 13, 2013 at 3:47 pm (10 years ago)
Erin, you are such a beautiful and talented lady, I’m forever blessed and grateful to have you as a daughter. Of course I love your hubby, the boys, and your (ugh) slobbery, unruly dog Hank too.
Erin Taylor YoungMarch 13, 2013 at 10:20 pm (10 years ago)
Hey, don’t forget I have a great dad who’s always encouraged and supported me and answered really dumb questions with profound patience.
Um, and Hank was your dog. : )