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I think I can, I think I can

by davesandel on October 29th, 2021

Friday, October 29, 2021                                (today’s lectionary)

I think I can, I think I can

I visited with my friend Shannon while Margaret did her work at the rehab center. He showed me a picture of a mammoth tusk, uncovered near Nome, Alaska, where his friend owns and operates a gold mine during the summer months. I remembered the story of a medical researcher seeking the virus that caused the 1918 influenza epidemic. In an Alaskan village 72 of the 80 residents died of the flu within a short time, and they were buried below the permafrost level. Like the mammoth tusk, their bodies were intact, presumably with the live virus still inside them.

Why wouldn’t we try to identify that virus, to help protect ourselves in the future? But the danger in uncovering it is unleashing it, since it’s still alive there under the permanent frost line. Thus the question: How do we know when we are trying to do too much, or even what we can’t actually do?

The history of America is full of accomplishments that others said could not be done. But each of us has some line or other beyond which we do not wish to go, or we cannot go. How much is too much?

I’m an Enneagram 7, so I’m always pushing that question. Nothing is too much. I can do anything. I have always thought way, although less so now, as my body aches daily in new places. When the sun shines and the air is clear, the sky’s the limit. Perhaps that will be how I think until I die.

At dinner on a sabbath, Jesus asked the Pharisees in attendance, “Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath or not?” They would not answer him. Jesus took a sick man and healed him. He further asked those watching, “Who among you, if your son or your ox falls into a well, would not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day?” Still they did not speak. They were unable to answer his question.

Jesus seemed to go where no man had gone before. And he went there everyday. Seas parted, walls opened, heaven came down and glory filled our souls. Shouldn’t we follow him, and learn to do the same things that he has done (and even more, as he promised us)?

Why don’t we? America testifies to the power of striving for the impossible, but it also reels with the effort. Always there are moments of doubt. Could we just rest a moment, and then another moment more? This is just too hard. God doesn’t want us to do this, or he would make it easier.

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem. He has strengthened the bars of your gates; he has blessed your children within you. He has granted peace in your borders, with the best of wheat he fills you. He sends forth his command to the earth; swiftly runs his word!

Josh McDowell counseled a young physician who hesitated about going to Africa as a medical missionary.  The young man told Josh that he was waiting for God to open a door. Josh saw his situation differently.

“Follow the path of your desire, and don’t wait for God to open some special door. Instead just keep walking through doors until one closes. That’s how God will guide you, and affirm you, and also stop you when it’s his time for you to stop. Say yes to God, and he will say yes to you.”

Of course that isn’t as simple as it sounds. Not at all. But as Paul tells his listeners in Rome, we have been given “the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the law, the worship, the promises, the patriarchs, and at last, the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever.”

Why would we not say yes? And God will say yes to you.

(Romans 9, Psalm 147, John 10, Luke 14)

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