How to do the Impossible
There have been times in my life when I have faced circumstances that felt impossible. In our world, so many things take place that we can’t understand and we are left asking how to proceed from here? I don’t know about you, but sometimes something changes just when I think life is going well. Maybe a new opportunity comes. Perhaps something difficult comes.
I want to look at a story in the Scriptures that speaks a lot about doing the impossible. In Matthew’s gospel, chapter 14, it says:
Now, when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went to shore, he saw a great crowd and he had compassion for them and cured, they’re sick.
So, Jesus takes off to have some alone time, yet the crowds follow him and Jesus is so affected by this that he begins to meet and cure their needs.
When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, this is a deserted place and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy some food for themselves. And Jesus said to them, they need not go away. You give them something to eat. They replied, we have nothing there but five loaves and two fish. And he said, bring them here to me. And then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass and taking the five loaves and the two fish. He looked up to heaven and blessed them and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds and all ate and were filled. And they took up what was left over the broken pieces, 12 baskets full And those who ate were about 5,000 men and women and children.
This is the only story that appears in all four of the gospels.
When the disciples brought an impossible situation to Jesus, He asked them to bring what they had. God only asks us to ‘bring what you have.’ We fall into the trap of thinking we must have it all together but we don’t.
Jesus tells the disciples to bring him the five loaves and the two fish. It says 5,000 people are fed and while the number has been greatly debated, we know a lot of people were fed. A miracle occurs and there are even leftovers.
After this, Jesus takes the disciples who have been part of this remarkable miracle and gets them away from the crowd. Then, in verse 22, it says:
Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up to the mountain to pray by himself.
Jesus makes the disciples get into a boat. One version says Jesus compels them. Another says He made them. So, Jesus was being forceful.
When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is coming to the world.” When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
Can I ask you this question? Have you ever allowed something else into your life that’s more important than God’s will? In my life, there have been times when I have replaced God with good things, but good things are not God. It’s so easy to get confused.
Jesus gets the apostles out of the area and immediately leaves them. Jesus went up the mountain and began to pray.
And after he dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost.” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed, the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased and those in the boat worshiped him saying, truly, you are the son of God.
The disciples were sailing into a storm. Jesus had just performed an almighty miracle by feeding thousands, so do you think Jesus might have known that they were sailing into a storm? Do you think Jesus might have gone up the mountain and spent that time alone? Instead, Jesus wanted to teach them something. He could have commanded the waters to be still with a nice breeze behind them to push them along. He could have, but he didn’t. So, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the storm, in the middle of the trouble, in the middle of the hesitancy of what they must be going through, Jesus comes to them.
They look up from the mighty storm and see what looks like a person walking on the waves. Then in the wind and the waves, they hear a voice saying, “Take heart, have courage.” Another translation says, ‘Be of good cheer.’ Don’t worry. Just be happy.
Peter says, ‘Lord if it’s you, would you tell me, Lord, to come to you?’ Peter was game. Peter realizes he can’t do this himself. He needs God to tell him what to do.
Sometimes in your life, God wants you to do something, but the trouble is you can’t do it yourself. You don’t know how to do it yourself. You feel a bit frightened. What you need is God to say to you, ‘I want you to do this, and I’m going to help you.’
You want to hear that voice, don’t you? So many of you today know God is asking you to do something in your life, but you are looking at your circumstance right now. You see where you are in terms of your age, where you are in terms of the place you live, in terms of your experience. You are looking at the hindrances to what you need to do, but what you are not doing is looking at God.
If you look at God, He somehow can overcome those things that make it seem impossible. For example, Peter doesn’t say to Jesus, “If it’s you, I’m coming to you,” because he realizes he cannot walk on water. Instead, Peter says, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you.”
When God wants something from us, we can pray, “God, this is what I think you are saying to me. If this is what you want, tell me. Convict me. Tell me what to do. If you tell me, I’ll walk on water to you.”
Then Jesus says, “Come.” In that one phrase, all authority and all power are given to Peter to be able to do what God has asked him to do.
There are many of you right now where God has convicted you about something. Maybe your marriage is not the best. Maybe there is a relationship with a child or a friend, and you think it’s too late. You don’t know how to fix it. I want to say to you today, turn to God and say, “God, what do I do in this?” Maybe you must pick up a phone or buy a plane ticket and fly to another place to see someone you love. Perhaps you must step out and start that business. Maybe you have got to sell that home and buy another one. Maybe you must change that career. Perhaps you must forgive those you have loved who have deeply hurt you. Maybe you must do those impossible things.
Jesus says, “Come.” Peter gets the command, and he steps out of the boat. Can you imagine what that feeling would’ve been like? Jesus asked him to step into rough water, trouble, uncertainty and where he knows he would normally sink.
Suddenly Peter is walking on water. Peter has his eyes on Jesus, and while he has got eye contact with him, he is doing alright. At that moment, Peter’s trust is not in himself. Peter was completely aware that Jesus was causing him to walk on water.
Then Peter is aware of the wind. No one can see the wind. We can only see the effect of wind. We might see waves or feel the wind on our bodies. We could say that the wind is like our circumstances. The wind is what we are not in control of. Suddenly Peter notices the thing that he has no control over. And when he takes his eyes off Jesus, he sinks. As soon as Peter looks at his circumstances, he sinks.
Peter calls out to Jesus and asks Him to save Him, so Jesus grabs him. You can imagine Jesus being so disappointed. Jesus may have thought, “Peter, why did you take your eyes off me? Why did you doubt, Peter?”
Why did you doubt I would love your children when they stopped attending church?
Why did you doubt when financial troubles came into your life?
Why did you doubt when your relationship started to be difficult?
Why did you doubt when you got older and noticed that home was empty and you didn’t know who you were anymore?
Why did you doubt?
Have you ever wondered why Jesus doesn’t walk across the water to them? Jesus could have said, “Peter, I’ll come to you.” But instead, Jesus wanted to show them something. Jesus could answer all their problems. He could fix everything.
God wants to lift our eyes from our circumstances.
God wants us to look at Him and say, “I trust you with my life and who I am in this season, at this moment in my life, and I will seek your way, and your will. If you want me to walk on water, if you want me to do the impossible, I will do my best.”
All of us are called to do the impossible. We are called to put our eyes on Jesus and as we do, He gives us the ability to do the impossible. It is never about us. It is always God at work in us.