For many 2018 begins with stating resolutions or doing some serious goal setting. Both customs are terrific but they lack one thing. They focus on what I can do in the new year but fall far short of what can be done.
I believe each of us should always strive to do our best but I also believe that our best is very different from what is possible. For me, the more interesting question is, what can God do? My journey through amputation, rehabilitation and into recovery has taught me that God can do far more than we usually think. In fact, the Bible tells us that we do not receive many things we want or need simply because we do not ask.
For example, I pray daily for my small church, Eagle Ranch, asking that it would grow. Thinking in a small way about God I used to ask the Lord to send the church a visitor or two and that was it. But having seen staggering miracles on my journey toward healing, today I ask God to bless my Church with every kind of abundance.
I now suspect that my former prayers, while sincere were kind of wasting God’s time. God likes to do big things so we don’t need to pray for “blessing” when what we really want is healing or ask for “help” when we actually long for a resolution to a problem because God can and will do what we really need – if we are bold enough to ask.
Besides expanding my spiritual vision I find that this insight has changed my daily life in an amazing way. No longer limited by what I can do and no longer faced with a God whose potential is almost as limited as mine, I think a whole lot bigger these days. I enter this new year excited because it isn’t just my new year, it’s also God’s. There is no limit – none at all – to what is possible so I live unbound from whatever seems to confine me at any given moment and free to strive toward a future as big as God’s call and my highest dreams.
I learned last week that I will be fitted with a prosthesis somewhere around Christmas. Everyone tells me that this is a perfect Christmas present and I agree! But maybe for a different reason.
The deep theme of Christmas is the sovereignty of God. At Christmas God turned the universe upside down. For centuries people had faced the prospect of being confronted by either the wrath or grace of God, no one could be sure which it would be. But when God came into the world as one of us he exercised his sovereign freedom in a way no one had fully expected. For those who recognize his coming, Christmas means that for them the threat of wrath has been replaced by the fact of grace.
That part of the Christmas message is what makes my prosthesis a perfect present. My survival, rehabilitation, and recovery show that the Lord who changed the history of life on earth at Christmas is still blessing and transforming his creatures. No doubt my healing is a gift but it is a minor one. The greatest gift was given at the first Christmas because that gift makes all other gifts possible. Every last one of us can look daily to God confident that we have a friend who having lived as one of us understands our needs and hears everything we have to say to him. That is the true joy of Christmas.
Trust plays a huge part in the recovery of health. But I’ve learned that it’s easy to confuse “trust in” and “trust that”. “Trust that” is confidence that a specific event or outcome is certain to occur. “Trust in” is confidence in a person.
For Christians, God is a person so trusting God is always a matter of “trust in”. It’s not different from the trust a person might feel toward their doctor or spouse except the trusting person likely views God as having powers and faithfulness that make trust in God a better bet than trusting anyone else. “Trust that” confuses trust in a person (even God) with confidence in the certainty of an event in such a way that the trustworthiness of that person is called into question should the desired event not occur as sought or imagined.
As I’ve journeyed through my recent health challenges I’ve engaged in both kinds of trust and learned that I find little comfort when I select certain outcomes and “trust that” God will do what I want. But peace and joy permeate my life when I simply put my “trust in” the person of God. Today I don’t worry much about this or that outcome, it is enough for me to know that God (who is always in charge) works to bless and not curse me. I don’t know what events and outcomes are held out before me but I know that the person who holds them loves me and I find all the comfort I need in that love.