August 07, 2007

All Things are Possible

I'm not much of a TV watcher, but a new show that's on now has caught my attention. It's a reality show called "Fat March," and it involves twelve obese/morbidly obese men and women who are challenged to walk 570 miles in ten weeks, in an effort to lose weight.

I'm not so much interested in the participants' desire to lose weight (as worthy as that is) as I am in the way they stretch their minds to reach a goal that, for much of their lives, they thought impossible. For years, their bodies told their minds what they could and could not do, and their minds believed it. However, now their minds are telling their bodies that the impossible is actually possible.

In the first episode, one of the participants kept saying, "I can't, I can't, I can't!" She was certainly not the largest of the twelve, but because she refused to believe in herself, she dropped out. The number of participants was down to eleven.

Another participant, though he had the right attitude, had foot problems that forced him out. The number was then down to ten.

How many of these ten will complete the walk? I don't know. I'm sure that some, and perhaps most, will. This, despite the fact that, for much of their lives, every single one of them would have said that such an accomplishment would be impossible to achieve.

What is it that makes the impossible possible? Simple: One has to want it, and one has to believe that it will happen.

Ministry is often referred to as a "helping" profession, but I'm learning that I can't help someone if that person doesn't believe in himself or herself. Several teenagers have come into my life in recent years, teens who have experienced terrible things in their lives and needed help. I knew that they could very easily make the choices that could turn their lives around, and I tried to help them do that, but they didn't believe that such a turnaround was possible. As long as they believed that, I couldn't help them.

DisciplesWorld magazine recently asked its readers the following question: "While most agree that eradicating poverty in America requires the efforts of all areas of society, which do you think carries the primary responsibility?" Half of the respondents answered that it was the government; 23% said "churches, synagogues, mosques, and non-profits;" 14% said "poor people."

While I agree that the government does not do enough to help the poor, if the poor don't want help, or if they don't believe that they will never be anything but poor, then any help that is given will make little or no difference. People have to want and believe that they can succeed in order for it to happen. One could argue that the government (particularly under the current administration) has made it difficult for people to believe they can succeed, but I still believe that if someone believes a goal to be impossible, then they cannot be helped.

For a long time, I believed that my own situation in life was one over which I had little control. I was called into ministry, and I've accepted the fact that ministry is not a high-paying vocation. (On a recent episode of the "Simpsons," Rev. Lovejoy is checking out a Bible from the library. The librarian says, "You've checked this Bible out every week for the past nine years. Wouldn't it be easier to just buy your own?" Rev. Lovejoy responds: "Oh, sure, maybe on a librarian's salary." Hilarious!)

The truth is, I've never believed that I would ever have anything but a life of limited resources ... and so, I've never bothered to learn about investments, stocks, or other ways to improve my finances. I've found it hard to believe that a higher income is possible, given my call to ministry, so I haven't made the choices that could possibly make the impossible possible.

At this point in my life, I think I'm starting to believe--really believe--that faith can move mountains, that I really can do all things through Christ. I think it really is possible for one who believes to walk on water, but that as soon as one begins to doubt that it's possible, he or she starts to sink.

I'm learning to imagine the impossible coming true in my life, to open my mind to all the possibilities that are out there. It's not always easy.

Meanwhile, I'm watching to see which of the remaining ten complete their 570 mile march.


Anonymous said...

You should adapt your blog entries into a book. It's good writing, and makes for good reading too.

Lately, quite a lot of bloggers have become published authors.

Reverend Ref + said...

Don't know if you use the lectionary, but if you do, this is your sermon for this Sunday.

Brian said...

Great post, Danny. Lots of things to think about here, and I appreciate your openness. I can definitely relate to much you have written here. The recent hysteria over the book "The Secret" makes the basic claim that if you can have anything you want (read:money, cars, fame) if you focus your mind on it. I appreciate your take on this subject much better!