I want us to think for just a few moments today about what’s possible. Possibilities! What do you and I consider possible? What determines the factors of possibility?
There’s a huge difference between what the world calls possible, and what God calls possible.
Just before our scripture lesson for today, in the Gospel of Mark, we have the account of the transfiguration of Jesus.
Of course, at the transfiguration, Jesus goes up on a mountain, where he’s joined by Peter, James and John… and they’re joined by some old testament patriarchs. And God’s voice thunders from above the mountain (verse 7), “listen… This is my son, my beloved son... listen to him.” So, today, that’s what we’re striving to do... we’re striving to listen to Jesus’ voice, above all others.
I read this week, about a man named Spencer West. Spencer climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, which is the highest mountain in Africa, at over 19,000 feet. Trained, seasoned athletes, and experienced mountain climbers, have been unable to do what he did. And the amazing thing about Spencer’s story is, he was born with a spinal disorder, that required his legs to be amputated. Everybody said that it was impossible for Spencer to climb that mountain. But Spencer was determined to test the limits of possibility. He knew that with God’s help he could redefine the possible. He listened to Jesus’ voice above all other voices.
A similar story about a young man, born with clubbed feet. One of his feet actually faced backwards. After multiple surgeries, doctors managed to turn his foot around, but he was told from an early age that he’d never be able to walk. But he did. And then he started to run. And then he started playing football. Before long the young man had a dream of going to Auburn, to play football there. He became a punter, and earned All-American honors, before going on to play for the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Diego Chargers. His name is Louis Colbert. Lewis redefined the possible, by listening to Jesus, and allowing God to define what was possible - while ignoring the negative voices around him.
Many of you, maybe know of a fellow named Dabo Sweeney. Sweeney‘s father was an alcoholic. It was doubtful that he would finish high school, yet alone, go to college. When it came time to play sports, he was pretty good in math... so Sweeny thought, well, in the basketball they have five players, and baseball they have nine players… and football has 11. So he figured his best chance of making a team would be with football, so that’s what he did. He played football, eventually walking-on, at Alabama, where soon, he earned a scholarship. But as it turns out his mother had no place to live, so he moved his mother into the dorm. She lived with him for three years. You can just imagine what other football players had to say about that, “you can’t even come to school without mama being with you”…
After college, Gene Stallings gave him a chance to be a graduate assistant, before putting him on his staff… And eventually Dabo Sweeney found himself coaching on staff at Clemson, where he was ultimately promoted to head coach. And since that promotion, his team has won two national championships. He will be quick to tell you that it is only the power of Jesus Christ - and faith that helped him redefine what’s possible as he listened to Jesus’ voice, above all others.
And each of these examples that I have just given… There was a problem that had to be overcome. And that problem was the perception of what was possible. The same problem that was expressed in our scripture lesson today, by the father, who approached Jesus to heal his son. The father said, “if you can.” IF, is without doubt, not only an insult to Jesus, but it’s an insult to our faith. IF, and faith do not go together. Just like Yoda says to Luke Skywalker, “do or do not, there is no try.” For Jesus, you either have Faith, or no faith, there is no IF!
The fact is: whenever we begin to think that our problems, our situations… our circumstances… are bigger than God... when we’re tempted to say to Jesus, “IF you can do anything...” It’s a clear indicator that our view and understanding of God is too small, and a “small” God IS NOT the God of the Bible.
Of course, whenever there’s a problem, there’s also a remedy. And the remedy to the idea that God is too small to actually change our circumstances, or to help us beyond seemingly impossible challenges of life, is to follow the imperative of Jesus. To listen... to act upon the words of Christ. Jesus said, “bring him to me.” Bring the boy to me if you want to discover the possibilities of what God can do with a life. Bring your problems to Jesus. Don’t take them somewhere else. Don’t plaster them all over Facebook, or seek popular opinion. Bring your concerns, your worries, your impossibilities to Jesus.
Jesus says, “Everything is possible for those who believe.” Not just some things. Not just the things this world says are possible. Not just the things that the preacher says are possible, but… everything! What does “everything” mean? Everything! All means, all! And Jesus lays it out right here in red letters for us when he says, “everything is possible, (all things are possible) for the one who believes.”
We’re often guilty of trying to compartmentalize God, to put him in a box, to restrict what he can, and cannot do, what he may, or may not accomplish. “If you can!”
Kinda like a man who went fishing one day, and his friend noticed that every time he caught a fish that was longer than his 12 inch ruler, he would throw it back. Fishing was good. He was catching a lot of fish that were longer than 12 inches. So his friend asked, “why do you keep throwing the ones back that are longer than 12 inches.” And the man said, well, my frying pan is only 12 inches wide. And the friend said, “it sounds like you need a bigger frying pan.”
Maybe when it comes to our faith, and understanding what’s possible, maybe we need a bigger frying pan. The amount of faith couldn’t be the problem. Maybe you and I need to be thinking bigger! Maybe we need to consider the reality that Jesus can do what you and I have relegated to being impossible.
I came across meme this week, on social media, that said “with enough coffee anything is possible!” Well, that ain’t true. You can’t get enough coffee. You can’t get enough education. You can’t get enough money. You can never have enough talent, or anything else at this world can offer. There’s only one place where all things are possible… And that’s when you bring everything to Jesus... in prayer, believing he can make all the difference in your life.
Jesus defines our possibility! Amen.