Austin Grigg | January 24, 2014
“Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said. 'One can't believe impossible things.'
I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. There goes the shawl again!”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
1. The Paradox of Pride
For a long time I would say things (or at least think things) like “I could never murder anyone,” or “I would never cheat on my wife,” even as naive as “I will never discipline my children in anger.” The longer I walk with Jesus and the deeper I go in my faith the more I realize how dark my heart is, rather than how much better I’m getting. So it is a paradox of sorts. The more we mature in our faith the more like Jesus we will become, because we see the depth of our depravity and need.
Jesus knew this about us. That is why he said anger in our hearts was equivalent with murder, and lust in our eyes is the same as adultery with our bodies. Even if we keep our external appearances in check, our hearts can be rotting within us – and eventually what is inside of us will work its way out into our lives and our relationships.
I’ve seen a number of friends now who looked like they had it all together, only to fall into adultery, or financial ruin, or lackluster faith. They never thought they would end up with their lives falling apart, and that is precisely why they did not build safeguards around their marriage or investments or family. We only setup guardrails when we believe there is a cliff we could drive off.
So, the first great danger is thinking we are better than we are – to believe it impossible that our life, or character, or family could fall apart. Once we admit the darkness dwelling in our own hearts, then our pride can melt away and there is hope for humility to grow and for us to live out of a strength God provides.
2. Too Easily Pleased
If the first danger is one of driving off the cliff, then the second is never having the courage to get in the car and leave the driveway. We settle for staying in our comfortable homes and our responsible jobs, most of the time not because we’re afraid, but because we believe that we can’t really accomplish something great.
The good news is that we don’t have to be someone great to do something great. We don’t have to be someone famous, or powerful, or educated to accomplish great things in this world. Often, it is the most unlikely of characters who find themselves being used by God to make a difference.
One of the students at the local high school taught me more about this than maybe anyone else. I met Hunter when he was a Sophomore – he was always beat-bopping into the school, telling me about his favorite song or some new Bible study he had started. Senior year rolled around and he had to come up with a senior project. So, instead of writing a paper, or organizing a bake sale, he decided he was going to put on a conference and raise money to help end modern day slavery! He asked if I would be his project coordinator and all I could say was, Of course, I’m in! He didn’t need to know many people would show up or who he would get to speak, he just knew people were being exploited, slavery still existed and he wanted to help stop it. He went on to rally his school for the cause and raise over a thousand dollars. Hunter believed God could take his life, his energy and his time and do something incredible.
C.S. Lewis believed that the problem was not in our lack of abilities or even our crooked passions, but ultimately our contentment with the ordinary.
It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
- C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses
Our dreams are not too big, but rather too small. Our hungers are not too ravenous, but too weak. Our plans are not too foolhardy, but too timid. If only we would see our own brokenness, and then see the audacious grace of God, we might find that we could be used for something truly great. We might believe the impossible.