“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” – Mark 9:23
I’ve always been a fixer. It’s kind of what I do.
When something’s broken, I fix it. See a cracked or chipped place in the wall? Patch it up. Leaky faucet? Yep, that’s me with the wrench (well, in truth I’m not much of a plumber but I’m dynamite with a cell phone so I know who to call). Broken relationships? Bring ‘em on. Thorny problem at work? Send it my way. And don’t even get me started about crooked pictures. Tip: if you ever invite me over for a cup of coffee or bite to eat, don’t be surprised to find me wandering around your house looking for crooked pictures, smudged windows, out-of-place books. It’s a curse.
One of my great childhood heroes, one of the guys on whom I modeled myself, was Captain James T. Kirk. Kirk defined the idea of the ultimate fixer. He never believed in the no-win scenario. Yeah, I know he was created by Gene Roddenberry and only lives in films, but Kirk could fix anything! I wanted to be just like him. And don’t get me started on the Shatner vs. Pine claptrap.
Of course, with age comes “wisdom” – that grown-up sounding word too often serving as a proxy for “acceptance” in place of “perseverance.” We learn of consequences. We learn of fallibility. We learn of our own shortcomings and inadequacies. We learn of the brokenness in our hearts and how sometimes no matter what we do, we can’t fix the problems right in front of us.
It’s a hard realization for someone convinced of their own invincibility. Someone like me.
I have a friend, a very close friend who has recently been struggling; wrestling with internal voices and external pressures and doubts and uncertainties. Many of the same issues a lot of us face every day. There are times when these voices and pressures and doubts become deafening, drowning out the real truth: my friend is, in ways large and small, amazing. As a parent, as the child of parents, as a friend, as a sibling, as a human being. Absolutely, utterly amazing. A miracle – just as we all are.
The fixer in me wants to help, to rush in and begin barking orders, to repair the brokenness. But I can’t. It saddens me, and hurts my heart.
How many of us have faced this, a situation where we’re seemingly powerless to solve the pain in someone else, wanting to solve the problem but unable to make the rescue? It’s a sobering, humbling experience. And sometimes, it causes us to doubt.
A story very early in the Bible, from the book of Genesis, reminds me of this scenario.
Abraham and his wife Sarah had wanted a child for years, yet they had never conceived. Sarah, assuming she was simply not meant for motherhood, had long ago put away her hope.
One day God appears to Abraham, in the form of three men standing under a tree. Abraham instructs Sarah to prepare a meal for the strangers and visits with them.
During their conversation, God asks Abraham where his wife is. Then He says something incredible: “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” (Genesis 18:10).
Nearby, Sarah overhears their conversation and laughs out loud, saying she and Abraham were too old and she would never have the pleasure of a child. She had given up.
When God heard Sarah’s laughter, He said to Abraham “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD?”
Is anything too hard for God? We each face challenges and difficult situations in life. And in the midst of them God asks, “Do you think your problem is too hard for me to fix? Or do you believe I can work it out for you, even though you think it’s impossible?”
Jesus reminds us in Luke 18:27 “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” How many of us really believe this? How many of us accept that God can perform the impossible in our lives, in our families, in our jobs, in our futures?
Of course, we’re quick to counsel others that He can. We tell others to pray, to have hope, to believe in the impossible because God is the doer of the impossible. But do we really believe these truths for ourselves?
You won’t read that in the Presbyterian Book of Order, the Church of Christ Book of Worship, the Baptist Manual of Theology Christian Doctrine Church Order, the Methodist Book of Discipline, or even the Catholic Book of Canon Law. Astonishingly, it’s the ultimate Truth of our faith. God is not simply the Creator, the maker of all things, who acts and then sits back watching it unfold. God is also an action-oriented DO-ER yearning to do the impossible in our lives. The message of Scripture is clear: if we don’t believe this about Him, we don’t believe in Him at all.
Yet, how many of us at one time or another have lacked belief? That kind of response points to only one thing: we’ve bought into The Lie. The Lie of Hopelessness. The Lie of Impossibility. The Lie that God is powerless to help us.
Friends, no amount of counseling or shoulder-leaning or therapy in the world can help us unless we absolutely believe God’s word: Nothing in our lives is beyond His ability to fix. Otherwise, our faith is in name only, futile and impotent. The unspoken truth underlying our faith is this: we can’t really believe in God until we believe He is God of the Impossible.
I’m a father, blessed with two amazing, beautiful daughters for whom I would do or give anything. So I relate very well to a story told in Mark 9:14, where a distraught father brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus’ disciples seeking deliverance.
This boy was considered hopeless. Both deaf and speechless, he spewed out only guttural sounds. He foamed at the mouth like a mad dog, and physically he was skin and bone, emaciated by his awful struggle. His father had to hold onto him continually, because the demons constantly tried to cast him into the nearest river, lake or open fire, wanting to kill him. His situation was dire.
Unspoken Truth: we can’t really believe in God until we believe He is God of the impossible.
While the father asked the disciples for their help, the boy’s demons began manifesting themselves as he foamed at the mouth, rolling on the ground, contorting and gyrating wildly. Scripture tells us the disciples prayed over him – perhaps for a long time – but nothing happened.
It must have seemed an impossible situation. Soon the doubting scribes crowded around, asking, “Why is the boy not healed? Is this case too hard for your Lord? Is the devil more powerful here?”
And then Jesus came on the scene. When he asked what was going on, the father answered, “I brought my son to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him. He’s a hopeless case.” Jesus responded simply, “All things are possible to he who believes.” Christ was telling everyone present, “Do you believe I’m able to handle anything except what Satan has claimed for his own? I tell you, there is no problem, no impossible circumstance, I cannot fix.”
Yet with a single word, Jesus made the impossible a reality. He discharged the unclean spirit and, taking the boy by the hand, lifted him from the ground.
Can you imagine the joy in this scene? That clean, freed boy must have run to his father and embraced him. And the father’s heart leapt with joy. God had fixed it all.
God restores whatever appears dead in our lives with a single word. He acts even when we don’t, even when we won’t, even when we can’t. He stands ready to save us from even our most desperate brokenness. And He does this with or without our acceptance. Yet to receive the power of those actions, we must accept as true His ability to act as God of the Impossible. In a word, we must Believe.
The friend I mentioned earlier is, blessedly, taking action, even as I write these words. I’m so incredibly proud of my friend for taking this step. I may be unable to fix the situation, as much as I want to believe I could, but with God’s help, and with prayer, I have no doubt my friend will overcome the doubts and fear and pain and sense of insufficiency holding them back from realizing the miracle they truly are.
God can fix anything. Even you. Even me. It’s kind of what He does.