I feel like I could throw up. Stumbling to the back door, legs weak, arms heavy, I open it and fall to my knees My heart is pounding in my chest. There’s a fear building in my throat, bringing tears to my eyes. I’m terrified.
I take a few deep breathes. Standing up, I walk back into my cabin. It’s 2013, and I’m a camp counselor. My first group of campers is about to arrive. I grew up at this camp. This opportunity is a tremendous privilege, a dream come true. But I’m petrified. There’s only one thought in my mind “I can’t do this”. How can I possibly take care of, and minster too, a bunch of 12 year olds for a whole week? The honest answer isn’t that comforting, at least not at first thought. The honest answer?
There is no way that 18 year old me can meet all the needs for a cabin of 12 year olds. There is no way the fresh out of high school kid that I was, can effectively minster the gospel to these kids. I just can’t. I don’t have the skills, the maturity, or the experience. I cannot do this.
What can’t you do?
16 year old girl, let’s call her Kate, goes to public high school. Things are good for her. She is pretty, athletic, and well liked by most everyone in school. Something has changed though. Kate’s youth pastor has been challenging her recently. Kate feels like she needs to start spreading the Gospel. She feels led to start a bible study after school. How can she though? She’s scared. What will people think? Will her friends think she’s crazy? She wants to do it, but she can’t. Kate is terrified. She doesn’t know what to do.
Paul, a 45 year old man, has been with his company for almost 20 years. Paul has made a name for himself there. He is the go to guy. Everyone respects him, everyone counts on him. Paul has been struggling though. He has been feeling a call on his heart to leave his successful job. A conversation with a visiting missionary at his church stirred something in his heart. A desire to go and spread the truth. Paul doesn’t know how to do it though. What will happen to his 401k? What about his cottage on Lake Michigan? His Lexus? What about his family? Paul wants to leave his job, and go into missions, but he is scared. Paul can’t do this. He doesn’t know where to start.
Larry is 63 years old. He is staring retirement In the face. What is he going to do? It’s been all about the work for years, for decades. Larry has always felt like he should do more to spread the gospel, but he’s never felt called to leave work. Now with retirement coming, he has the chance to focus on his church’s out reach ministry in the inner city. But that will take all his time. It’s a big commitment. He’s worked his whole life to be able to have the golden retirement; sunshine and golf courses are calling his name. But he can’t shake the feeling he’s supposed to stay. Like he is supposed to spend his time ministering in the Inner city. Larry doesn’t know what to do. It’s upsetting. He can’t walk away from his retirement plans. He can’t. But he feels the call.
Wherever you are, whatever you do, there’s a call. The call. Maybe it isn’t to pick up shop and head to Africa. Maybe you are supposed to talk to that lady at work who just went through divorce. Maybe invite her to your bible study. Regardless of who you are, a call exists. True following of Christ can’t exist without motion. If you are following something, you will be moving. So what do you do when you can’t? When you are on your knees behind your cabin?
It’s good when you can’t. When you can’t, when you just don’t have it in you. That’s when God takes over. That’s when God does the job. When God does the job, is when it gets done the best way. The perfect way.
“Should such a man as I flee?” Nehemiah 6:11.
When Jonah was called to Nineveh he fled. He couldn’t do it. He was scared. He tried to run the other way. Jonah tried so hard to get away from what he was called to do.
Jonah was trying to do it himself. When we try and do it ourself it becomes too much. All too suddenly really. A life of ministry is too much to do alone. A life of ministry isn’t a call for you to work really hard for God. A life of ministry is a call to let God work through you.
So if real ministry takes place when we come to the end of ourselves, and God takes over, what should we do? How do we achieve this? I’ll ask again.
What can’t you do?
Try it. Take a step. Your motion will be met by the perfect motion of God. He will do the job.
One time the disciples were on a boat in the middle of the lake, when they saw a figure coming over the water towards them. At first they thought it a ghost. They panicked, but as it got closer they realized it was not a ghost, it was Jesus.
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Peter takes a lotta flack for this story. But I’ve always thought it was a story that spoke to Peters strength. Peter had to take the first step in order to do the impossible. Jesus didn’t drag him outta the boat. Jesus asked, “come to me” and Peter did. Peter took the step of faith right into the ocean. As John Ortberg so cleverly named one of his books, “if you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat”
Peter took a step, he went for the impossible. Because Peter knew that with God all things are possible.
In this story Peter did one other thing very right. When he became afraid and began to sink, what did he do? He didn’t try and swim, or climb back in the boat. He cried out to the true saviour, “lord! Save me!” Peter knew he couldn’t do it alone. He knew that only with Jesus, was this experience possible.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
Next time you find yourself afraid, afraid to take the chance. Afraid to leave your job, or share your faith. Afraid to invite that friend to bible study. Afraid of a cabin full of campers about to arrive, afraid to get out of the boat. And Maybe that’s right now. Maybe right now the words, “I can’t do this” are in your head. Don’t grow weary, don’t faint.
Take the step. Lean on Jesus, and let Him do the job.