I remember as a teenager I always told people “I’m not looking for easy” and that “I’ll never retire because I’ll rest when I get to heaven” when referring to what I wanted to do in my life.
I’m pretty sure God heard me haha. As people say, be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. After meeting my now husband, I have been finding myself in situations that are hard… Actually, to be more accurate, I have been flinging myself into situations many people would actually avoid. I have always been the type to want something different than the norm and to be unique. This, I credit to my mom’s consistent encouragement to be different and asking me what’s the point of being just like everyone else when I was a kid.
However, it wasn’t until God started using my husband to actually start giving me what I claimed to want, that I really started evaluating what I was asking for. Aside the given fact that my husband would love the Lord, my number one prayer for my future husband was always that he be generous to others. Generosity is not just about money or resources, it’s about time, space, investment, risk and discomfort. My husband went through a very serious accident while serving in the Army years ago, he was given a 1% chance of survival, but God miraculously saved him and he recovered successfully after almost two years of being in the hospital along with countless procedures and surgeries. Although this was the worst thing that ever happened to him, God continually uses this experience to do some of the best things in his life. One way being in the form of financial security through a stable retirement check which gives him the ability to take care of us, but also to give generously to others.
I have spoken to many people who say things like “I would if I could” or “I wish I could give back but I don’t have the resources” but after I myself have been in the position of saying “I can” I can’t help but wonder how many really “would if they could”. God placed me where “I could” and I was hit with the realization that maybe I didn’t really want to, maybe I actually “wouldn’t if I could”. This has given me much insight to the fact that sometimes God doesn’t allow you to “can” because you actually “won’t”. For example, lets say that you and your family are doing well, you’re pretty financially stable and haven’t really had any issues getting the needs of your family met but perhaps you have been hoping for a promotion that will give you a good raise anyway. You have a few gifts, vacations and activities you’d like to do with your family as well as donate to some of your favorite organizations and help some of your friends or relatives out who are struggling financially. You hope and wait but instead of you, someone else gets the promotion. It’s entirely possible that God doesn’t think you’re ready to handle more money, it’s possible that He knows that you actually wouldn’t help out your friends or donate to your favorite organization or even take your family on a vacation. Maybe He knows that you would be much more likely to splurge and buy yourself a new luxury car that you don’t need and actually still wouldn’t technically be able to afford. It’s possible that you haven’t been able to find a bigger home in your price range even though you claim that you would start a Bible study in it or even consider fostering because God knows you wouldn’t. He knows that what would end up happening is that you’d start obsessing over having the nicest furniture and decor and that you wouldn’t want people to mess up your sparkling clean, new house, much less, some little kids putting their grubby hands on everything. Perhaps you are not ready to handle a bigger home.
God may be saying “no” or “not yet” because you still have some growing to do, because the reality is that behind many peoples “I would if I could” is “…I won’t when I can”. Many of us actually know deep down inside that we really wouldn’t if we could. Still sometimes God says “yes” whether you’re ready or not so it’s important to think about some things.
What are the “promises” you’ve been making to God while asking Him to fulfill your desires? What have you been telling others you would do “if only you could”? Are you willing to go and do the things you’ve been saying you’d do if given the opportunity? I challenge you to begin evaluating the weight of the promises you make, and the implications of the things you ask God for because maybe, just maybe, He will give you exactly what you ask for. We must learn to go one step further from “I would if I could” to “I will when I can” because God will give you many opportunities to do as you say you would. It may not be in the exact way you imagine it, but He will shine the spotlight on you and you should be ready.
Was I ready when God handed over all the things I had been asking for? Did I jump right in when he opened the door to opportunities I claimed I would take whenever presented with them? No… I was quite terrified and reluctant actually. Personally, most of my promises and prayers were set upon the realm of adoption. For as long as I can remember, when I imagined my future family, adoption was always part of it. However, later on, once my husband and I really started taking steps in that direction, we learned about foster care and decided that was direction we wanted to take instead. We made the decision but it still took a few years to actually take the first step. Why? Initially because we really didn’t have space in our home, however we soon enough were able to move into a bigger home.
Yet it still took a couple years, what was the excuse this time? Nothing really… except fear and the dawning of my own selfishness. I began thinking about how my life would change, how it wouldn’t be about me anymore or about what I wanted. I began thinking of the challenges being a foster parent would present, about the risks I’d be taking, and I was filled with fear. Yet I still did it, and I did it while being terrified. In 1st Corinthians Chapter 2, Paul says the following to the Corinthians:
“When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2-5
If Paul, an educated man (who ended up writing most of the New Testament) who is one of the most well known persons in the Bible, was trembling when he went to speak to the Corinthians, then I think it’s safe to say that it’s pretty normal to feel scared when God asks us to do big things. We don’t have to be professionals, we don’t have to even be “good” at what we are called to do because God will do it for us. Many times courage comes before confidence, the definition of courage is to do something in spite of being afraid, it is not about doing things without fear necessarily.
Are you feeling God calling you to do something big? Something scary? Something risky? Have you promised to do certain things if given the chance? Think of what’s the worse thing that can happen if you chose to say “yes” to whatever God is calling you to and come to terms with the fact, that that worse thing can actually happen. If this worst thing happens, would you still believe that God is good? Would you still believe that He was calling you to do what you did? Would you still believe there was something He wanted you to learn through that experience?
Now think of the best thing that can happen, think of the infinite spiritual impact that God can achieve through you if you say “Yes”. Think of all the things you could potentially miss out on because of a chance that the worse thing can happen. We often ask for things without even realizing what we are asking for and when God hands it over and asks us to do as we said we would, many of us back away. We back away in fear and in selfishness. We back away because we risk getting hurt. When we got our foster care license, we knew we were going to be walking on the razor blade of risk. We acknowledged it is scary and that we have no idea what’s going to happen but we do not regret it. We knew the results of following God’s prompting are up to God, not us, our part is simply to obey.
Our fear of failing must be put at ease by the truth that in God’s eyes, success is not determined by the result of our actions but by the attitude of our hearts.
If we make a decision with our full trust in the Lord (and making sure it aligns with His word), with the intention of pointing others to His love, hope, grace and mercy and to give Him all the glory, then we have already succeeded. We succeed the moment the attitude of our heart is in the right place and we fail the moment we try to do things in our own strength. If we step into a decision confident that we can do it, confident that we are strong enough, and we place our faith in our own skills and abilities, then we have already failed. We can fail before we even take one step or make one move. The Christian life is not about us, it is not about what we can do or achieve, it is about what GOD did through JESUS and continues to do through us. The whole point of scripture is to continually show us that we are incapable of doing anything apart from Christ. Remember that we are dead, it is Christ who lives in us! Gal 2:20 says:
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which i now lice in flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Anything we try to do for ourselves will always be tinged with selfishness, pride and greed as well as thwarted by our insecurities, fears and overall fallen-ness. I can say “yes” because God enables me to, not because I am confident in myself.
So many times people say “I would if I could” when we tell them we are a foster family. In fact, I’ve heard that said in regards to anything good other people do, whether thats financial aid, mentorship, Bible studies, or teaching. This seems to be a reflex for many, as a way to protect themselves from seeming selfish or uncaring. Sometimes it’s ok if you “wouldn’t if you could”… Not everyone is called to the same things! It may be a good idea to take more time to think before answering with “I would if i could” because maybe you know that you actually wouldn’t! You will not seem unkind or unloving for not saying it, again, not everyone is called to the same things. Further still, you just might reach a place in your life where you can and find yourself with a lot of promises to fulfill.
I tend to have all sorts of fanciful ideas of what I want to do with my life and the legacy I want to leave but when I get the opportunity, I almost always pull back and run to a safe place. It has been my husband who has many times pointed out the opportunities that God is placing in front of us and I tend to resist them. So many times I want to say no but I choose to say yes because I know, from experience, my fears will be replaced with love and my selfish desires with infinite but intangible rewards. I choose to make decisions based on truth, not emotions. I choose to take the gifts I asked for… so,
I will when I can.
(We were blessed to receive the title of “Foster Family of the Year” from our foster care agency, we give all the glory to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ)