“I can’t do that.”
At Coldwater, we often hear those words from students entering their program or starting to learn wilderness skills. When told that they will be carrying a canoe over their head, on their own, while walking through the woods, we hear, “I can’t.” It’s usually not something the student has ever tried before, and yet, the first response is one of self doubt.
I call this settling-- we settle in lots of areas of life, and often don’t realize we’re doing it. Somewhere along the way, we started to believe that our abilities, our relationships, our circumstances, and even our life calling are no more than mediocre…. Just average. We settle for okay instead of great, and “I can’t,” or “That will never happen,” or “I’ll never be able to,” or “That’s just the way it is,” start to come out of our mouths.
I have a confession to make: A number of years ago, I was working at a Christian camp in a leadership capacity, and I really disliked one of the other female staff in my cohort. I found myself thinking very critical thoughts of her, being annoyed by her, and avoiding her company. I told myself it was our personalities clashing, and that we just wouldn’t get along. Well! God spoke to me and rebuked me for my unbelief, and I felt Him challenging me to expect more. In Ephesians, Paul writes “Now glory to Him, who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us...” (Eph. 3:20, emphasis added). He can do way more than we can even imagine in our wildest expectations. Sometimes we can only think and believe as far as our limited human minds go, so we set our Godly expectations for our life at that limited level. I believe God wants to do way more, and take us way further than we can believe in our own strength.
So what happened with my camp coworker? I began praying for her, and asking God to show me why He loved and adored her. God began to show me that not only did He generally love her as His child, but He actually LOVES her personality, sense of humor, and He delights in her company! In my own strength, my love for her was very limited, and I wasn’t expecting anything amazing from our relationship. I had been so certain that I could never like her. To me, she was an annoying burden to have around! (How awful is that!)
And yet, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20). As I prayed and started asking God to fill me with HIS love for her, my human expectations were left behind. Her and I began to connect and truly appreciate each other, and our relationship turned into such a beautiful and rewarding one! There were times when she shared her heart with me and my eyes welled up with tears with love for her. I found myself talking about how much I loved her to the other staff, who were very surprised! I thought she was so beautiful and funny. What a contrast to the annoyed response I used to have! If I had continued believing my low expectations and settling for my limited understanding, I would have spent that entire summer frustrated with her, wishing she wasn’t there-- and not experiencing the amazing gift God intended.
Where are you settling? Where have you believed by your human limitations, instead of by faith? For some, we have less-than-great relationships with our siblings or parents, or believe that our average circumstances can’t improve (family, work, school), or we imagine our weaknesses as limitations, or we view other people only through the lens of our human minds. Well guess what! God desires to take you higher, further, and deeper than you can see right now. His plan for your life is not one of average or less-than-average relationships, circumstances, and giftings. Lift up your eyes and look to Him in faith! Leave behind your human limits and trade them for Godly expectations!
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Cor. 2:9).
This summer, ask the Lord to reveal where you have settled. Ask Him what He desires to show you, and where He longs to take you deeper. He won’t fail you! He loves to provide faith and expand our hearts to believe in His greatness.