God is able

A phrase that’s been on the front of my mind lately is one you’ll hear in sermons, in songs, or written on posters or in sympathy cards. It comes from Ephesians 3:20.

God is able.

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If you’re like me, though, every once in a while you might ask yourself, “What is He able to do, exactly?” I think the Sunday School answer is everything. But that doesn’t necessarily help me when I’m stuck in traffic and frustrated, or when I make a mistake at work, or when I say something that’s not exactly encouraging to someone. Or for you, maybe you’re losing patience with your kids, or lost out on a big work project, or didn’t do so hot on a recent test. Or maybe you just accomplished something significant, or did get that big work project. There’s still a need for God even in those situations, right? It could almost be anything at all that points us to a need for something more.

What has made the phrase relevant in my life recently is acknowledging that I sometimes get caught in this cycle:

Feeling discouraged <turns into> thinking something will or won’t happen <turns into>  doubt <turns into> unhealthy behavior <turns into> guilt.

So I’ll admit, then, sometimes I wonder about it. “Is God able?” I’ll ask. Is He actually able to help me with what I’m doing today? Using the cycle above, is He able to keep me from diving into discouragement, etc?

Then recently it dawned on me: Yes, He is. Because His ability to “do” isn’t constrained by and doesn’t rely on my belief that He can. He can. He can. That’s it. He can. It’s like wondering if a beagle howls. Or a dolphin jumps. Or if grass is green. The answer is yes, yes, and yes. Whether I believe it or not, the grass is still green. A dolphin will still jump. A beagle will still howl.

And God is able.

So I’m thankful today that even in my wavering ups and downs where for one minute I’m singing How Great Thou Art and the next I’m quoting one of my favorite lines from Rescue Dawn – “God, why don’t You help us when we need You most?” – God is still there, and He is still able.

-Out of the Wilderness

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They Call Him Flipper

In California, St. Teresa, or the East coast of Viet Nam, it really doesn’t matter, I love the beach! There’s an exciting and mysterious attraction to the ocean, the sand and all the creatures in the deep. Here in middle Tennessee, many folks will offer up a lake as an acceptable alternative, but to that I’ll shout, “Exhibit A!” Here’s the Exhibit A: when’s the last time there was breaking news about a lake creature found thousands of feet deep? Exhibit B: when have you seen photos of exotic locations on the coast of Tennessee? Never! Exhibit B Attachment 1: Tennessee doesn’t have a coast. Exhibit B Attachment 2: even if Tennessee had a coast, you’d have to drive through legions of University of Tennessee fans, with their car flags and door magnets just to get there. Slam #1: I can think of fifteen things I rather do than talk about the University of Tennessee. And ten more rather than the SEC! (that was Slam #2)

The beach is a much happier thought, and much more mysterious, thus Exhibit C: ocean explorers are finding new species every few months. Side Note 1: the funny thing is the species have been there all along, we just haven’t been able to get to where they are. As technology advances, so does discovery. Segue 1: Personal discovery.

I go fishing in the Gulf of Mexico a couple of times a year with my dad. Honestly, I only enjoy the actual fishing part of it when I catch fish. Most of what I enjoy is the unknown. Boating two hours away from the shore will put you right in the middle of the wild. I’ve seen sea turtles, sharks, manta rays, man-o-wars, manatees, crocodiles, and my all-time favorite… porpoises. Side note 2: Growing up in the states united in the East compelled me to fall in love with three things: seafood, the sun, and the Miami Dolphins.

Segue 2: the Miami Dolphins were named after the mammal in which I intend to elaborate on. Dolphins are very similar to porpoises and I’m not going to school you on the differences. In North Florida, we called them porpoises. Proposal 1: In all I’ve seen of ocean life, these creatures are the only ones that choose fun. On a large ocean liner, they’ll swim speedily at the bow. Behind a large troller they’ll dart in and out of the wake. Or off in the distance, they’ll jump high into a flip. Years ago I had the rare privilege of watching a porpoise swim upside down underneath a small watercraft I was on. It was amazing, amazing! I still remember the color of the belly and how excited I was to witness this.

 

Look at a porpoise in the face and you’ll swear they’re smiling.

Proposal 2: It’s as if all the other creatures of the sea act out of survival instinct, while the porpoise looks for ways to be happy. Analogy 1: Sea creatures are like the cart rides at Disney World. They turn a little to the left and right, but they’re locked on a track to go one direction. Instinct is the big honkin’ metal bar underneath the cart that keeps it on track. The carts, or fish, are slave to it. The porpoise? The porpoise is a Volkswagon Beatle named Herbie. They are free to go anywhere and do anything, and sometimes, they even go bananas! That was Corny Reference 1. But it’s true. Porpoises have instinct, but no metal bar. I like to think that they’re aware of our happiness with them and that’s why they jump out of the water, swim upside down underneath our boats, and help Sandy and Bud catch a group of criminals… because we like them and they like us.