Monday, September 7, 2015

I COULD NEVER

“I could never do that.”

I have heard that phrase a lot lately in relation to our move to Cambodia. People tell me they could never handle the heat of Cambodia, or they could never eat Cambodian food. I might hear someone say, “I could never learn a new language.” Maybe they say, “I could never leave my life here and go live in a strange place.” An especially common one that I’ve heard is “I could never raise support.”


It would require skills I don’t have. It would require sacrifices I couldn’t survive. I could never do that.

And I’m not buying it for a second.

People tell me they could never learn a new language. I have never met an individual who worked hard to learn a language and couldn’t get to the point where they could hold a decent conversation. People tell me I did a pretty good job of learning Italian, yet I still accidentally invited a guy to pee on my bed and unwittingly spread a rumor that American ice cream is full of condoms. My point? Learning a language is hard work no matter who you are. You will make mistakes. If it is important to you to live among a certain people, you’ll do it anyway.

Other people tell me they could never raise support. I think their intention is usually to encourage me: “You’re much better at this than I am.” Surprisingly, this statement does not affirm me. I’m intensely introverted. I’m fiercely independent. I come from a culture in which many think money is a taboo subject. I am not naturally good at fundraising. When someone tells me I’m better at it than they are, it discounts how much hard work it requires. But the gospel compels me to go, and this is the only way to get there. So I raise support. And I get to experience the blessing of God providing support in spite of my own shortcomings.

Be careful when you say, “I could never do what you’re doing.” Here are three reasons why.

First, when someone says this, they turn me into a superhero that I am not. When you say “I could never…” you imply that I’m doing this because it’s easy for me. It’s  not. It’s hard work. Almost everybody is willing to put hard work into something that they’re not naturally great at if it feels important to them. I’m not a superhero. I’m just a guy who has found a pearl of great value (Matthew 13:45), and I’m willing to make some sacrifices because of that pearl.

Second, when someone says “I could never…”, they downplay God’s power in their lives. With God all things are possible (Mark 10:27). Those who say “I could never” may actually be saying “God could never.”

Finally, “I could never” usually doesn’t mean that you could never do this or that. What it usually means is that you have not yet found something so compelling in your life that you would be willing to do this or that. In other words, “I could never raise support” usually means “I have not yet found some cause for which I’d be willing to do the hard work of support raising.”  

Now, I’m not trying to say you should all move to Cambodia or you should all start trying to raise millions of dollars for some cause. I’m just asking you to be realistic. In all likelihood, you could probably do a passable job of all these things, and if the situation presented itself, I hope you wouldn’t decline because you thought you didn’t have it in you. To do so would be to deny your own capabilities and, more importantly, the power of the God who lives inside you, the same God who walked out of his own grave by his own power.

Maybe you’re not called to raise funds or learn a language or sell your house right now. That’s fine. Just don’t go around saying you couldn’t. You may be shutting yourself off to some of the blessings that come from being compelled to follow the gospel to surprising places.