When Jesus asked his two disciples if they were ready to drink form the cup he drank from and to be baptized with the baptism he would be baptized with, they replied, “We are able.”
When I was in Junior High I was bullied by a group of boys so much so that I would have to race home to keep from being beat up. They called me names, and threatened me daily. Then one summer one of them confronted me while I was mowing a neighbor’s yard. He wanted to fight. I said, “No. Christians don’t fight.” He replied with a crass comment about Christ and before I could think. I had pushed him down and sat on top of him—my knees on his arms. I raised my fist and told him to leave me alone.
At that moment I was grabbed under the arms and hoisted to the fence. With my shirt bunched in the young man’s grasp and his fist held high, I gasped. It was the boy’s older brother—a Golden Glove winning boxer. He glared at me and yelled, “Say you are a wimp, and I’ll leave you alone!”
I knew he would pound me to a pulp. It was gonna hurt really bad. So I ducked my head and whimpered, “I’m a wimp.” He made me say it again before he let me go. He picked up his little brother and they left me standing alone in my shame against the fence.
I have regretted it ever since. Whenever I shrink from a hard task, neglect doing things I know are important, or take the easy road to the battle, I am reminded of this one event.
Many times I answer the call to duty with the words, “I cannot” in my mind.
When it comes to writing, I still struggle with this. I am not good enough. In the movie “In the Heart of the Sea” Herman Melville tells a man, “I am not Nathaniel Hawthorne.” And I say, “I am not Herman Melville.” Someone may one day say, “I’m not as good as Jon Hopkins.” It is easy to discount reader’s praise for my work. But I just write and try my best to do it well.
In every life there are experiences of darkness. When we are put up against the fence-edge of dread the Master asks, “Are you able to follow me through this trial, this sacrifice, this mystery of pain?” We must remember that the greatest blessings of grace lie beyond this experience. He leads me. I am not able. I wimp out. But I follow the One who is able. Anyone can do the possible. He can do the impossible.
Today I will say to the raised fist, “Bring it.” And trust in God to lead the way.