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What If It's Impossible?

September 27, 2021

Hand hold an open Bibleby Aaron N.

The story of the Rich Young Ruler in Matthew 19:16-29 has been on my heart a lot lately. In that story, a rich man comes to Christ and asks what he must do to be saved. It seems like he’s prepared for Jesus’ answer and professes his own holiness and adherence to the law. But when Jesus tells this man to sell all he has and follow him, the young man walks away, defeated. While the admonition against greed, idolatry, and self-righteousness feels like an increasingly important message in our modern age, it’s not why this story has been at the front of my mind. Rather, it’s the disciples’ response that I’ve been wrestling with. When Christ explains the difficulty of a rich man entering heaven, the disciples “were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’” (v. 25) Jesus responds, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (v. 26) As I’ve read this recently, I’ve come to believe that the scope of the disciples’ question – and Jesus’ answer – isn’t limited to this specific context.

My wife and I are foster parents. We’re relatively new to both the foster system and parenthood. One of the most common sentiments that we hear from our well-meaning Christian friends is how much they admire what we’re doing and how they “could never” be foster parents. Some have mentioned that they couldn’t handle falling in love with these little ones (and some big ones too) and then having to let them go. Let me tell you a secret: Neither can we.

Who can love a child with everything they have and then freely let that child go, potentially never to see them again? Who can give up everything familiar in their life – friends, family, career, home – and travel to another country to commit their life to service and evangelism? Who can give generously in times of economic uncertainty and make sacrifices when conventional wisdom suggests we should be saving for the future?

“Who then can be saved?”

The disciples asked that question because they understood the deeper implication behind what Jesus was saying. They understood that they themselves would be asked to give everything and to follow Christ.

Is our “calling” conveniently aligned with our skills, talents and comfort? Do we believe that God is calling us to serve in a way that paradoxically gives us the illusion of control in our lives? Do we feel safe in our world because of how we’ve positioned ourselves far from perceived dangers? For me, the answer can sometimes be an easy “yes.” But as I struggle to align my will to God’s will (and not the other way around) let me make a humble admonishment:

The true calling of God on our lives will lead us directly into the impossible because that’s where God can reveal who He is and the breadth of His love for us. We are all called to love, to go, to give, to follow Christ even to the cross. And these things should cause us to say, “I could never do that” or “That isn’t my natural gifting” or perhaps “that’s impossible.” And those statements can all be true. But with God, all things are possible!