A couple of weeks ago (before the rainy season began), we were doing some yard work. We had a pile of dirt on the back of our truck, and my job was to haul the dirt to low spots around the foundation of our house, fill them in, and work the dirt so that it sloped down. As I hauled the umpteenth load of dirt around the house, I realized how thankful I was for the wheelbarrow. Without it, I would have been taking each shovelful of dirt individually. Not only would that take a really long time, but it also would have left a huge mess as the dirt spilled from my shovel. Likely, I would have just given up, forfeiting the task as impossible. Thankfully, though, with the wheelbarrow, all things, concerning dirt moving, were possible.
Hmm…that sounds kind of familiar. Matthew 19:26 reads, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” In this particular context, Jesus is explaining to his disciples that as sinful beings, we cannot save ourselves or earn heaven, but with God and the perfect sacrifice of his son, all things are possible. In the Gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel shares a similar message with Mary telling her that her cousin Elizabeth, the old woman (Err… I mean mature woman… wise woman…. woman advanced in years… forget it, Elizabeth was just plain old for having a baby) was in her sixth month of pregnancy. “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37). Paul also shares this sentiment with the Philippians in chapter four of his letter to them, explaining that he has been through times of little and times of blessing, struggle and joy, but that in all things he has learned to be content. He understands that with God all things are possible. He says in verse 13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” After a simple Google search, I was able to find ten more verses connected to the idea that with God all things are possible. That is incredibly encouraging. These verses are often quoted and shared with friends facing a challenge. I, myself, have recited them simply to get me through one of those days that felt like would never end. Likely, you, too, have clung to one of these verses at some point. It is apparent that the Lord wants us to know that he makes the impossible possible, but…
Yes, there has to be a but. The wheelbarrow says so. Remember, without my wheelbarrow, I could not have hauled all that dirt around the house. Now, I didn’t just shovel the dirt in and off it went while I followed leisurely behind catching up to the magical wheelbarrow just in time to dump the dirt in the right spots. No, I had to push the wheelbarrow. It made the task possible, but I had to push it. That’s true with God’s promise to make all things possible. He will give us the wheelbarrow, but we have to push it. My favorite author Andy Andrews says it this way in his book The Traveler’s Gift, “When faced with a decision, many people say they are waiting for God. But I understand, in most cases, God is waiting for me!”
I had to share this little lesson with my own kiddos this week. Each morning after our devotion time at breakfast, we pray together, often for our attitudes and to treat others with love. One particular morning after this prayer, I opened the door of the van to hear my kids yelling at each other. We had just prayed for help to love each other! After a little explanation, I told my kids, “You have to push the wheelbarrow. God’s not going to do it all.”
I’m not trying to be self-righteous here. I, too, have failed to push the wheelbarrow. I’ve had ideas for writing projects or ministry opportunities that never moved past ideas. I’ve even prayed about these things and thought, “Okay, God, make the first move.” Then I sat back and waited; eventually, they just kind of slipped away or are still stored way back in the closet of my ideas. That doesn’t mean those things were impossible or that God didn’t want me to accomplish them; it means that I failed to take action; I failed to push the wheelbarrow. Maybe you can relate? Or, maybe, it’s a particular sin that you struggle with. You catch yourself in the middle of a particularly unrelenting sin (gossiping, being dishonest, negative thoughts, etc.) and stop to ask forgiveness and for help in the future. As the future turns into the present, though, you push the request for help out of your mind and the cycle begins again. Maybe you’re struggling with making a decision, and you’ve placed the outcome in the wheelbarrow, but you haven’t lifted a finger to start pushing.
There are so many situations where we tell ourselves that the God can do all things, but we don’t do anything. Real faith that God can do the impossible will be accompanied with deeds that get the wheelbarrow moving. If you study the miracles of healing in the New Testament, you often see the words “your faith has made you well” or some version of the phrase. In Mark 5, we hear the story of a woman who had been suffering from bleeding for twelve years. We are told that she had been to many doctors, none of whom could help her. “When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering” (Mark 5:27-29). When Jesus realized what had happened, “He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering’” (Mark 5:34). It was because of her faith that Christ did what countless doctors had been unable to do – he did the impossible. Notice that she didn’t just sit at home praying that God would heal her, she didn’t just think about it, she did something about it. She pushed the wheelbarrow and touched his clothes. If we truly believe that God can help us battle the sin, conquer the illness, make the decision, tackle the project, we must act like we believe it. We need to do something that reflects our faith that, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, emphasis mine). We must start pushing the wheelbarrow.
Lord, thank you for your work in my life. You are powerful beyond anything I can understand. Help me to recognize my role in making the impossible possible. Give me wisdom to see your will and what you’re asking me to do. Give me the strength to start, to push.