Tuesday Re-mix -
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NASB)
I grew up with a pretty healthy dose of Zig Ziglar and Norman Vincent Peale and The Power of Positive Thinking…or at least with my Dad’s slightly more scriptural version of that philosophy. Dad used to always say to me, “Son, with God’s help, you can accomplish anything you set your mind on accomplishing…and you can be anything you set your mind on being.”
I just never really bought into the promise that, “through God, I could do all things.” The whole notion of being some kind of spiritual superhero sounded glamorous and all, but it raised a few questions in my mind. First of all, what if I set my mind on being God? Could I accomplish that? Secondly, shouldn’t there be some moral correlation to that rule? Or is it really anything at all to which I set my mind? And what if what I really set my mind to accomplish conflicts with what you really set your mind to accomplish? Then what?
I had a thousand questions about this concept, especially the secular version of it. But even the scriptural version gave me trouble: I can do all things through him who strengthens me. It would be many years before I would begin to understand it.
As it turns out (I would later learn), being empowered by God is not quite the same thing as being gifted with super powers which I could then go and use either for evil or for good. Moreover, it does not even mean that my story will always be powerful or successful or even meaningful. In fact, being the kind of Christ-follower Paul describes in Philippians 4 means that my life story is not about me at all. Rather, my life story becomes a story about God.
Stop now and let that last statement sink in for a moment.
My life story is not a story about me at all…it is a story about God. That changes everything, doesn’t it? Suddenly all my metaphors for life are wrong. All my strategies fail. It is an entirely different paradigm. “I can do all things…” no longer has anything at all to do with me and my agenda, because now it has only to do with God’s agenda in this world and, more specifically, His agenda through and around me. Now it has less to do with my own accomplishments and much more to do with Him telling me “great and mighty things which [I] did not know”. I am no superhero. The only superhero in my life story is God Himself…and He is doing truly amazing things all around me…and sometimes through me.
So it is only through Him that I can do these things, i.e., through His agenda and through His will. And here is the best part of this truth: this “correction” does not limit this promise at all; rather, it expands it. Because however grand my agenda and my vision might be for saving the world, God’s is infinitely bigger. God’s purpose for my life and for your life is immeasurably larger than any purpose we can imagine on our own.
I could never have understood that as a child. But I was blessed with both an earthly Dad and a Heavenly Father who kept that promise before me long enough for me to find my way back to it eventually. “I can do all things…” What an awesome truth!