Doing Impossible Things!

J.R. Miller

To every young man setting out in life, or in the midst of life's activities and struggles, there comes the inspiring word, that Christ expects the impossible of him. Anybody can do possible things. Not many people seem to have a desire to do anything that seems to be impossible. Indeed, many of us are too easily satisfied with our attainments and achievements. When we do a thing passably well, we compliment ourselves and think we have reached the full requirement.

An English writer has said that the little sentence, "That will do!" has done more harm in the world than any other sentence ever written or spoken in English words. A man does a piece of work. He knows it is not his best but he is too indolent to do it over again and do it better, and so he allows it to pass with the apologetic words, "It will do." He soon forms the habit of being satisfied with very commonplace work. He is aware all the time that he could do much better if he would. But he has not the energy to conquer his own indolence, and allows it to pass.

A shrewd business man said recently that the reason so few men rise to any success worth while, is because they have not the energy to do their work thoroughly. They begin with taking a position which should be only a starting-point. But they never make themselves any larger than that first position. They show no aptitude for anything better than the small line of work they are set to do at first. They never attain any skill which marks them as worthy of promotion or capable of doing work of a higher grade. The consequence is, that they stay in their first positions all their life!

If only it had been whispered into their hearts as they began, that the impossible was expected of them, and if they had heeded the call then they would have gone on step by step until they had reached the highest place. It is the young men that do the impossible things who are wanted for the larger places.

The same is true in school work. A great many young people have no idea of doing more than barely enough to pass. They have no ambition to excel. When they reach the end of their course they have neither made unusual attainments in learning, nor have they gained by discipline the strength of mind necessary to qualify them for anything worth while in life.

Some young people, however, hear the challenge to do the impossible and put themselves so enthusiastically into their school work that they reach far beyond the bare requirements for passing, and come out at last with high honors, prepared for taking important places in life.

Of course there is a difference in natural gifts and abilities. Not all can be expected to win the highest places. But it is no doubt true that many of those who never achieve anything noble or beautiful, could have done so if they had reached ever for the best.

The edelweiss is a symbol of victoriousness in living and blooming under hard conditions. It grows on certain mountains, and on lofty altitudes, where almost nothing else lives, and on crags difficult of access, and is the hardiest of all plants. It thus becomes the symbol of noble life which endures hardness, is victorious amid antagonisms and difficulties, and rises superior to obstacles. It accomplishes the impossible!

General Armstrong used to say, "Doing what can't be done is the glory of living!" Anybody can do the things that can be done, the easy things, the things that require no special effort. He who lives at his best, should do things that others say cannot be done.

"What are Christians put into the world for," asked General Armstrong again, "but to do the impossible in the strength of God?" Jesus himself tells us that if we have faith we can remove mountains that is, do things that are impossible to human strength. Paul said that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him. The "all things" include things impossible to ordinary human strength.

Nothing that Christ commands us to do, is really impossible. It was a prayer of Augustine's, "Command what you will and give what you command." The prayer is based upon a divine law, that God never expects anything of anyone without providing the strength to accomplish it. When he commands us to be holy the command pledges the strength we need for its obedience. When he commands us to love our enemies it is his purpose, if we set out to do it, to give us the grace we need.

Nothing does more harm in Christian life, than too easy a confession of weakness and inability. Christ is with us and will work in us the accomplishment of whatever he would have us to do. He asked an impossibility of the man with the withered arm when he bade him stretch forth his hand. This was the very thing the man had not been able to do for many years. But as he made the effort to obey, strength came, and the man achieved the impossible. He bids the spiritually paralyzed to rise up and walk the very thing they cannot do. But the command brings in it the promise of strength to do this impossible thing, and those who try to do it, in obedience to the divine command will receive strength sufficient to enable them to do what they have been commanded to do.

We need to hear continually, this call to accomplish the things that are impossible. Then, instead of answering that we cannot do them, that we have no strength we should make the effort, in the Master's name. And as we do so, the strength will come from unseen sources, and we shall see impossibilities conquered!