All Things, Jesus, and You

by Andy Wood on February 22, 2012

in Ability, Executing Your Plan, Five LV Laws, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Abundance, Tense Truths

I

Someone once told Matt he was like the man with the five talents in Jesus’ parable.  He was not limited to just one ability, but was blessed with multiple skills.  It was a bad interpretation of the word “talent,” but Matt appreciated the sincerity of the compliment.  And truth be told, Matt is that kind of guy.  Smart.  Articulate.  Funny if you catch him on the right day.

But lately Matt hasn’t felt like a man with one “talent,” much less five.  The tough economy has him working three different jobs to make ends meet.  And while Matt is good at shooting from the hip, lately he’s been handed a fist full of criticism in just about every area of his life.

“God,” he says, “You’ve picked the wrong guy.  I need you to find somebody else to do this.  Or You fix this.”

“No,” comes the reply from heaven.  “It’s not my job – it’s yours.  It’s not somebody else’s job.  It’s yours.  Now stop trusting yourself.  Stop looking at the problem.  Watch Me. Trust Me.  And do it.”

Can

Teri always referred to John as her rock.  But little did she know how much she really depended on him until the weeks after his sudden death.  This was about more than just filing the taxes and managing the lawn and painting the guest bedroom last summer.  This was about the missing card on her birthday, the funny memory with no one to laugh with her, or watching their youngest son graduate from college alone.

Even though Teri comes across as confident, every new situation – or every old situation she faces without John’s strength and patience – comes screaming at her about what she lacks.  What she’s missing.

“Lord,” she cries, “I can’t do this!  I can’t.  How long will you ask me to do what I can’t do?”

“Yes,” comes the quiet answer.  “Yes you can.  And you will.  And I love you too much to stop asking you to do it.  Now stop trusting John.  Stop looking at what you lack.  Watch me.  Trust Me.  And do it.”

Do

Garrett is uncomfortable for all the wrong reasons.  Relentless with his dreams, patient with the pathway to success, and disciplined in his work ethic, Garrett had labored for years in obscurity, trusting God and His principles that one day “his time” would come.

It just did.  Seriously.  I mean, walked in the front door, landed in his lap and hollered, “Showtime!”  “It” is the professional opportunity Garrett has always longed for and prepared himself for.  And all the delights and challenges have come bundled with it.  The money.  The power.  The chance to do something significant and the resources to make it happen.

So what’s not to like?  What’s that discomfort rattling around in Garrett’s head?  The haunting words from his deceased mother:  “Success like that changes people.”

“Father,” Garrett prays, “I have always prayed to you from a position of lack.  Now it feels as though I don’t need anything except the wisdom not to screw this up!  I don’t want to change… show me just how needy I really am.”

“No, I won’t,” The Father answered. “I have taught you to dream in faith.  I have insisted that you learn to work.  I have taught you to wait on Me.  Now I am going to teach you to speak fluently in the language of abundance.  Stop trusting your neediness.  Stop looking at what you possess.  Watch Me.  Trust Me.  And do it.”

All Things

Zoe can handle spreadsheets, high-powered business meetings, grant writing, and strategic planning.  She can manage a household, plan and host parties in her home, and faithfully serve on the finance committee and as a youth sponsor at her church.

Whatever the challenge, Zoe could stand and deliver.  Until she delivered Zack.  One part cute-monster, one part sinner-gizer bunny, Zoe’s three-year-old son seems determined to be the death of one of them.  And soon.  In the business world, Zoe is a realist.  She pays homage to the law of averages.  And while she loves her little boy-dragon dearly, she has resigned herself to the fact that she’s just not a very good mother.

“Nobody’s perfect,” she says to herself and the Lord practically.  “Lord, I know I can’t be good at everything.  I guess I just don’t have the give of mothering.  I just pray that you would give Tim and me wisdom to raise him to be a godly man, and give Tim the strength and patience that I lack in parenting.”

“No,” a Tender Voice answered.  “I didn’t just give your son to Tim.  I gave Zack a father and a mother.  And I love you and Zack too much to lower my standards because you feel inadequate.  Stop trusting your averages and calculations.  Stop looking at your Tasmanian terror.  Watch Me.  Trust Me.  And do it.”

Through Christ

All four of these people, while very different, have something in common.  Somewhere on an office or bedroom wall, they see a sign every day with this courageous message:

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).

But like every significant, cherished truth, this one requires some unpacking and unfolding as we grow spiritually.

Regardless of the form they take, every life encounter is a dance between you, Christ, and “The Thing.”  And three factors are always in play:  your trust, your gaze, and the measure of your confidence.

The Thing may be a collision with grief or pain.  It may be a date with destiny or the apparent pinnacle of success.  Whatever the form, The Thing always challenges you:  Who or what do you trust?  Where is your gaze?  And what is the measure of your confidence?

Many people say, “I can do all things through Christ,” but their gaze is on The Thing.  Or their trust is in the “I can.”  Then when things don’t turn out, somehow it’s Christ’s fault.

Many people resign in the face of The Thing because they face the hard truth that they can’t or somebody else can do it better or they’d rather focus on their abilities in other areas.  So they give up when Christ is arming them to gear up.

Paul’s focus when facing His “all things” was not the “things,” but on Him who strengthens us.  It’s back to the difference between the gaze and the glance.  His gaze was not on himself, his ability, or The Thing – even though all three are present in the situation.  His gaze was on the Strength Giver.  Jesus is the means by which “I” or “can” or “all things” execute anything.

Who Strengthens Me

Here’s how this fleshes out:

  • You are presented with a task or challenge or situation.
  • It is no one else’s responsibility but yours.  You may receive some help from people, but it’s still your responsibility.
  • You look to Jesus, where the strength lies to get the job done.  Regardless of the job or its attending stress or temptations, He is the source of strength to complete it.
  • Your confidence – so long as you are looking at Jesus – becomes anchored in “I can.”
  • You deliver, not in your strength, but in the strength that comes from the One on whom you focus your faith.

But wait!  Doesn’t Jesus just do it?  No.  He gives you the strength to do it as you watch Him, trust Him, and do it in his power.

Okay, so…

No more buck-passing.  The Thing is your thing, not God’s thing or somebody else’s thing.

No more poor-mouthing.  There is nothing you can’t do – nothing – when Jesus strengthens you to do it.

No more star-gazing.  This isn’t about wishful thinking, dreamy hoping or passive watching.  It’s about standing and delivering – doing – in the power of the Holy Spirit.

No more excuse-making.  God doesn’t need your protection or want your excuses.  He doesn’t short cut the requirements of your calling because you got the idea that you aren’t talented enough in some areas.  Either “all things” means “all things” or it means nothing.

So… do you still believe that you can do all things through Him who strengthens you?  Or is that just wishful thinking hanging on somebody’s wall?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

B February 23, 2012 at 6:37 am

Once again Andy….Right on !!
Thank you for helping us set our Gaze not our glance.
You have a gift that’s for sure.

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