Have you ever felt like you’ve been called to great things, impossible things? That would be because you have. The problem is we say we believe that but – do we really? The fact is that we’ve lost sight of the bottom line: “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Maybe it’s time for a quick reminder.
“Then the Lord said to Abraham, ‘About this time next year I will return, and your wife Sarah will have a son.’ Now Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent nearby. And since Abraham and Sarah were both very old, and Sarah was long past the age of having children, she laughed silently to herself. ‘How could a worn-out woman like me have a baby?’ she thought. ‘And when my master, my husband, is also so old?’ The Lord then said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, “Can an old woman like me have a baby?” Is anything too hard for the Lord?'” (Gen. 18:10-13).
A “baby” equals a dream, a promise, a heart’s desire. It also represents, as with Sarah, the sign of a fulfilled covenant and the promise of a covenant to come. The same message came to Jeremiah from the Lord.
The Lord had instructed Jeremiah to buy a field from his cousin and to store away the deed. Odd thing to do but God meant it as a sign that, although Jerusalem would be destroyed and the Israelites exiled to Babylon, the time would come that He would again restore His people to their land. But as Jeremiah sees the city and nation about to be destroyed, he is in despair and wonders how anyone could ever own land in Israel/Judah again, so Jeremiah questions God as to why He had him buy the land in the first place. But the deed was a prophetic sign of a future covenant which the Lord would make with His people.
God had also had Abraham perform a prophetic action when He’d commanded him, “’Take a walk in every direction and explore the new possessions I am giving you'” (Gen. 13:17). God tells Abraham to “explore” (“Walk the length and breath of the land . . .”) – to get a vision of it. He commanded Abraham to keep the vision before his eyes in order to hold onto the dream. And we should do the same . . .
As for Jeremiah, he didn’t understand the sign and essentially asks God: “How can You do that – fulfill your promise – when Jerusalem is about to be destroyed??” God’s answer: “‘I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for Me?'” (Jer. 32:26-27).
In the book of Luke, the angel Gabriel visits Mary to inform her that she will become pregnant with the Messiah through the Spirit of God and have a baby. Mary responds by asking how she can get pregnant when she’s still a virgin. (Evidently she gets that this is supposed to happen immediately and not after she marries Joseph, to whom she is engaged. I always thought this to be very astute of her because I probably would have missed the point entirely and responded, “Why wouldn’t I have a son ? I’m about to get married. I hope I have lots of them!”) The angel tells her how it will happen (as soon as she gives the word), and then gives her a sign to believe in: “‘What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s already in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God'” (Luke 1:36).
In Matthew 19, there is the account of the rich young ruler who leaves sadly after deciding he cannot give up his possessions and follow Jesus (who was testing his commitment by asking him to do that). Jesus watches him go and comments to His disciples that it’s about as easy for a rich person to get saved as it is for a huge camel to go through the tiny city gate known as the “Eye of the Needle.” Knowing how impossible that would be, Jesus’ disciples, astonished, respond, “‘Then who in the world can be saved?'” (vs. 25). Jesus’ answer? “‘With man, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible'” (vs. 26). The disciples were panicked at the thought that salvation would be as difficult to attain as a camel getting through that gate (which evidently had never been done before).
Recently, I had a conversation with some friends and we discussed our dreams: What were the things that we hoped and dreamed we’d accomplish some day? What did we really believe we were called to do? What were our secret hearts’ desires?
As we chatted, it became clear that every one of us- and there were about a dozen – had a dream. And they varied. Some were as big as to start a company which would assist churches in starting their own businesses in order to become financially independent to another who wanted to produce a worship and CD to another whose heart’s desire was to become a wife and mother. Others included a woman who dreamed of building a house that could be used as a retreat center for others and a man who wanted to return to school and become a minister. My dream? To write thriller-type novels with spiritual warfare and political themes.
Despite our dreams, however, there was one common thread – well, two, actually: doubt and fear.
Now we all know that we’re not supposed to have any of that. And sometimes we talk a good game. But the fact of the matter is that doubt and fear come in all shapes and sizes: “What if I can’t get the education I need to become __________ ?” (Fill in the blank.) “What if people laugh when I try to ___________?” “What if I don’t have the money I need to accomplish ___________?” “What if I’m not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, influential enough, talented enough????” What if? WHAT IF?? WHAAAAAT IFFFFFF????
“What if I try – and fail . . . ?”