Impossible - Difficult - Done!
Many years ago, Hudson Taylor, the evangelical missionary of the China Inland Mission, described the challenge of ministry in twelve simple words.
First it is impossible,
Then it is difficult,
Then it is done!
Why is vital Christian ministry impossible to do? Because a human being cannot change another human being's heart. God alone accomplishes it through us only when we collaborate with Him.
Jesus' instruction is clear in John 6:28-29. When He was asked, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" Jesus answered, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent." Stripped of all my self-effort, I am reminded that my role is that of an extremely interested observer. My task? Listen with all my might, be ready to move at the impulse of His urging, then stand back and watch Him do the work.
Hudson Taylor's twelve words describe the very thing which makes the Christian calling so incredibly exciting. We are entirely dependent upon God's empowering presence with us, and strangely, only if it is humanly IMPOSSIBLE are we called - or given a vocation - to do it.
God is kind to give us a vocation - a strong feeling that we are suitable for a particular career or occupation, as a directional arrow. But, even with this confidence in God's calling jingling in our pocket, we are reminded that we cannot accomplish the impossible without partnering with Him in our service to others.
Notice that the second line includes the word DIFFICULT. I have been around long enough to realize that accomplishing something good is not easy. Most of the time my assignment is to trudge along, obediently putting one foot in front of the other, for exceptionally long periods of time. The phrase, "the common begin, the uncommon finish" comes to mind.
Reminder to self: Don't be surprised that anything you undertake for God will be far more difficult than you ever imagined.
And then, the exciting and fulfilling conclusion in the third line - DONE! I love the exclamation point that shouts out triumph and victory are possible because God accomplishes ALL that He sets out to do. My joy is complete when I realize the Lord has used me, once again, in the unique way He created, fashioned and fitted me for ministry.
Looking back, I marvel! What seemed so insurmountable and impossible, the thing that stretched my patience to the limit because it was so difficult, is now DONE and we are off on another adventure!