Greetings on this Columbus Day,
Jeremiah 33:3 (CEB) – Larger reading: Jeremiah 33:1-11
“Call to me and I will answer and reveal to you wondrous secrets that you haven’t known.”
Sir James Simpson, the discoverer of the anesthetic properties of chloroform and one of the most prominent scientists of his generation, was asked by a friend to name the most wonderful discovery he had ever made, and quickly came this replay: “The greatest discovery I ever made was the discovery I had a Saviour.” – Wilson O. Weldon
Have you ever wondered what was going through Columbus’ mind as he set forth on his great adventure? He ventured forth into the great unknown and uncharted world of the ocean. He didn’t know if it would cost him his ship and/or his life, but nevertheless he went forth. What prompted him, as well as scores of others to do go where no one had ever gone before? And, what kind of personality traits make up a person such as Columbus? It is one thing to have the financial backing of the likes of the king of Spain, but it is a totally different mind set to be able to set off into the great unknown?
As I pondered some of these things on Columbus Day … I am reminded of some “snow birds,” Harry and Pauline that befriended us many years ago. They were fortunate to be in a position that afforded them the opportunity to travel the highways and byways across this great land. Unlike Columbus, they had the advantage of maps and the knowledge that others had gone before them to pave the roads. It was their attitude though that struck me as special, “We’ve never taken a wrong turn or gone in the wrong direction. We’ve just been to some places that we hadn’t been before. Every day is an adventure of discovery,” that captured my imagination.
There is a little of both – Columbus and Harry and Pauline – in me … the desire to discover new areas and experience new things. I’m not sure I would have wanted to get on a tiny little sailboat laden with all sorts of provisions and set forth into the unknown, but the thought does fascinate me. While contemplating this I am reminded of a truism that I discovered while going through the study, “Experiencing God, knowing and doing the will of God” by Henry Blackaby and Claude King. The truism is this: “God never asks you to do something that you can do!” Ouch!
This truism should stop all of us in our tracks because it is just the reverse of how we normally think. Our responses usually runs along the lines of, “Yes, I can do that” or “I might be interested or capable of doing that,” or “That might be something that I would enjoy doing,” but we never would initially embrace the idea that God is asking me to do something that I think I do not have the skills to accomplish or the time to commit to make it happen or the desire to even to try … but that is just the way God works because if we can do it then we don’t need God. God desires us to venture forth into the “great unknown” – as in an area or field or service – where we would need to depend totally on God to realize or accomplish anything. It is what I would call “The Columbus Syndrome” – to boldly go where I wouldn’t choose to go and to accomplish something that I really do not think that I can accomplish, but to go nevertheless simply because God has asked me to go and for no other reason.
We can do this with the confidence that God has our back. God stands at the border of a new country and new adventure for all us if we would but dare to venture forth. There are new experiences just waiting around the river bend, new areas and lands to discover within as well as without of ourselves, something special just over the next hill, waiting for us on the other side of the door. Wouldn’t it be sad to miss out on the life that God has planned for us all because we desired safety and predictability? God desires to stretch us beyond our predictable and comfortable lives as we rely on His guidance, direction and strength. Remember, while He never asks us to doing anything that we can do, He also never asks us to do something that He cannot accomplish through us, in us, with us and in spit of us. As it says in Philippians 4:13 – “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy
Help me, Lord, to look beyond my limitations and infirmities. Give me eyes that see the bigger picture and purpose that you have for me and the world in which I live. May today be my day of great discovery as I venture forth into the great unknown.
And the faith journey continues, Pastor Jim
Giving God the Glory
The next sermon in the “When God Whispers” series is – “Derailed Dreams” – Exodus 3:1-14.