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Maybe you can't do it, and that is OK!

I remember in 1996 watching the Olympics and seeing Kerri Strugg as she finished her routine with an injured ankle and hearing her coach shout “You can do it”. For the following year or so it became fodder for everything teacher trying to inspire us High Schoolers at the time, so I remember hearing that story quite often, and then watching the video every time a teacher or guidance counsellor wanted to inspire us. The message was always the same; no matter what “you can do it”.


My generation heard all about how “we can do anything we put our minds to” (Sorry Ben Franklin), “we can be anything we want”, etc. Well, now, as a Christian, a father, husband, and as someone who has had a fair few more struggles now than I had in 1996 I'd like to call Baloney (sorry for the Americanism) on Bela Karolyi and all my well intentioned guidance counsellors. No, I think it's safe to admit that “I can't do it”, at least not on my own and not by my own efforts. In fact, Kerry Strugg and any other athlete knows this to be true, in fact Karolyi had to carry her off the platform.


The attitude of solitude and self promotion is staggeringly misleading. When we watch athletes on television we get the impression that these guys are “self made” individuals who achieved glory and greatness on their own. But chances are there were parents, coaches, teachers, team mates, and friends working behind the scenes. I know that nothing I achieved has been through my own doing. Yet, we have adopted in our work places, sometimes our homes, and even in our Churches an attitude of climbing the social and corporate ladder and of competition.


But the Christian life is different. Jesus calls us to “deny ourselves and take up our cross”. He calls us in John 15 to “love one another as he loved us” and then he goes on to say how he loves his disciples so much that he will give himself up for them. Then we jump to 1 Corinthians were Paul spends the first chapter teaching against pride, saying that he didn't come with eloquent words so that they could see he wasn't promoting himself. He called them not to say “I am of Paul or I am of Apollos” and reminded them to make Christ their head not earthly leaders. Then a few chapters later he reminds them of unity. Now Paul goes further than just being able to do stuff together at Church, he says we are “one body”. So that means it's no longer “you can do it”, because anything I do, will be an accomplishment for the whole body, it becomes, instead, “we can do it”. In fact, in John 15 Jesus says that if we are not attached to the vine, we can not bear fruit. He says if we are not in him we can do nothing. So it can't possibly be that “I can do it” but rather “we can do it”.
James then takes this further in promoting a closeness that many modern Christians struggle with. He says we should pray for one another when there is sickness and struggle, and even confess our sins to one another. He isn't calling for Churches to force confessions out of people, but rather he is emphasising the kind of closeness and unity that we should have among Christians that this would become natural.


But in order to do this we have to “deny ourselves”. We cant keep going thinking that we (SINGULAR) can do everything, nor can we make our walk with Jesus about what I can do and what I am. When God created the world he said “it is good” after everything he created, but after he created man he said “it is not good...that man should be alone”. So he created a helper, his wife, eve. It is not good that man should be alone. Abraham had Sarah and Lot, Moses had his wife, his father in law, Meriam, and Aaron, David had Jonathan and the prophets Samuel and Nathan, Elijah had Elisha, the disciples had each other, etc. The point is that God never intended for us to go it alone. By his very nature as three in one he calls us into community as well.


So if you find yourself in a place where you say “I can't do it”, toss out everything you've been told by the world and go to God's word. He never meant for “you to do it”, if he did he wouldn't have sent Jesus to die for us, knowing we couldn't conqueror sin on our own. No, God doesn't call us to say “I can do it”, like the little engine that could moving up the hill by his own strength, no he calls us to fall completely upon his grace so he can lift us up and say “you can't do it, but with God all things are possible”. To stop saying “I can do it” and look to the great cloud of witness God has placed around you and say “with God leading, we can do it”

About the author

Erik Liljegren

Erik Liljegren

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