What did they used to say? “Work as though it all depends upon you and pray as though it all depends upon God.” I think that is only half right. We certainly should pray as though it all depends upon God—because, in the end, it does. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” Control is an illusion we create when we try to replace trusting God with our own efforts, schemes and plans.
I find that working as though it all depends upon you plays into that error. Bad things happen when we fool ourselves into thinking we can take control—by hard work or anything else. Sure the Bible commends hard work (Ecclesiastes 9:10) and condemns laziness (Proverbs 24:30-31). But, this does not mean that our hard work will rescue us from every crisis—financial, relational or otherwise.
This dynamic of working hard but trusting God totally has recently been reinforced to me by two younger friends. One is a seminary student who took my church planting class last week. The other is a friend who has struggled with substance abuse as long as I have known him. Both said the same thing to me in different ways in the last month or so.
After taking my church-planting class, my new friend Miles wrote this to me in an email:
First of all thanks so much for sharing your heart so passionately and authentically with all of us this week. You were successful in making me believe, even more, that this is completely doable, (which was reassuring) and you made me think it utterly impossible (which in its own way is also encouraging).
Miles gave me my title for this post—DOABLE AND IMPOSSIBLE.
My other friend is also a student. Most of his study, however, has been conducted in the College of Life Challenges. The consequences of his addictions have devastated his life. He has a felony record, his family members have distanced themselves, and he is economically always on the edge. Except for the comfort and presence of God, he is mostly alone as he approaches the mid-point of his life. He has been clean and sober for some months now and we pray for his protection and the redemption of his earthly life.
In a recent phone conversation he shared a wise saying he had picked up in one of his many recovery programs. “We do what can be done and leave the impossible to God.” That is not the same as “working as though it all depends on you” by any means. That can become more than a little self-destructive. But in another perspective, what we “can” do becomes our offering to God—our contribution. When amazing results roll in we can give God the credit, knowing that our part was something he made special by using it in His plan and purposes. When things don’t go as well as we hoped we can avoid blaming ourselves and continue trusting His leading.
Hopefully, God has given you something to work on that is “doable and impossible” in some way. Maybe it is an internal challenge—emotional or spiritual. Maybe it is an external task or calling. Maybe it is a challenging relationship. Whatever the case it is good if it feels doable and impossible. God can meet you there. This is part of what makes starting a new church exciting—what will the journey be like?
“We do what we can do and leave the impossible to God.”
God always meets with those who trust Him to do the impossible. He always does.