I CAN DO ALL THINGS So says the world, but its true! I am me, I am great, I can do anything I put my mind to. Such is the mantra many of our children are being taught, the idea being that within ourselves we have all the necessary bits and pieces to be perfectly successful in life. Whatever we put our minds to do we can do. And were told this over and over again in endlessly nauseating Disney movies and by patronizing business gurus making money out of books telling us, I did it, I am great, so can you be. And we actually pay for this self-aggrandizing rubbish! It is rubbish, too, because another New Year dawns, and with it comes another sad tale of wishes made and abject failures to follow. We make our New Years resolutions, and what happens to all that intense gazing in the mirror, telling ourselves, I can do it. I am me. I am great. I can do anything I want? Well, its been statistically proven that nearly half our wonderful resolutions have been broken by the end of January! Clearly then, its a lie; we dont have the ability to do everything we put our minds to do. We weaken, fall apart at the seams and easily revert back to bad habits when the pressure mounts. What difference is a new year going to make, then? Well, what difference did last year make? Not much. I learnt by the usual routine of hard experience and sheer exhaustion, just how limited I am. There wasnt a lot of good I did, there werent any great injustices I corrected, and I wonder what impact I had in anyones life, to be honest. Its pretty discouraging really. All those hours being alive and feeding my face to stay alive, and what did I accomplish? It was a relief some time back, then, to discover that Im supposed to be limited. God made me limited on purpose. He never meant me to be a superman. Instead, he tells me he deliberately and purposely imprisoned me in a body thats subject to futility and frustration (Romans 8:20). He also tells me, to my embarrassment, that at my best I dont amount to more than a broken pot (2 Corinthians 4:7). So much, then, for all this stuff children are being taught about self-esteem and the ability to do everything they put their minds to! Fortunately, God also explains why he did this to us. Its to get us to place our hope in him. Why? Because he knows well never make it to eternity - or even get through this life very well, for that matter - on our own. We have a tendency to self-destruct. So God makes us limited enough that we realize we need help. And its a blind man who doesnt realize he needs help. I mean, look at us. For all our constant telling ourselves we can do anything we put our minds to, we havent exactly done it, have we? The facts speak for themselves: human beings all over the earth are suffering horribly, from war, disease, neglect, famine, pollution, and the list goes on. And what are we doing about it? All that we can do, apparently, because if we could do more we would, right? But we cant, thats the point. Try as hard as we can, we havent improved world conditions or human nature. God was right; we are limited. So, what do we do? Well, we open the lid to our broken pot and ask God to help us out. And we discover he does help us out, every day and so many times that eventually we can say, as Paul said, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. All things? You mean, Paul could all things he put his mind to - just like the mantra children are being taught?!
Well, yes. In everything Paul wanted to do but found impossible to do, God helped him do it - every time, too. The mantra these children are being taught, then, is correct after all! We can do everything we put our minds to. And for Christians, thats true. Unfortunately, children soon discover it doesnt work for them. Things do not work out as planned or worked for. Resolve weakens under relentless pressure. Discouragement and frustration become familiar companions. But thats exactly whats supposed to happen. Were supposed to discover were pots! Why? So that the all-surpassing power is from God and not from us (2 Corinthians 4:7). The power to get us through this life into eternity was never ours to begin with, and the mind that can do anything it wants to is his, not ours. But Gods quite willing to use that mind on us! When a child says, then, I can do anything I put my mind to, its marvellously and wonderfully true - so long as hes trusting in Gods mind to help him, not just his own.