Authored by Marie Story
There’s a story in the Bible that tells of Jesus going back to His hometown. I think it’s one of the saddest stories in the Bible. The story is pretty much summed up in the final verse of the chapter: “And He did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”1
These people knew Jesus. They had watched Him grow up, and I guess they didn’t expect much from Him. So when He came around after He’d been doing miracles and stuff, they just couldn’t believe it. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?”2 they asked. It seems to me they were saying, “We know this guy. He’s just a carpenter—it’s not possible that He could be doing something great. It’s not like He’s the son of God or anything.”
Just as these people didn’t believe in Jesus and His power, we can also lack belief in ourselves and in how Jesus can work through us. Do you ever feel that way about yourself? “I’m just 15,” or, “I’m only a student,” or whatever.
It’s amazing to me how often we are limited because of our unbelief. We hold ourselves back through negative self-talk; because we don’t believe we’re capable of doing certain things, we often don’t even try.
I have a pug whose sole goal in life is to be the center of attention. She’ll do just about anything to get someone to pet her (naturally, this gets annoying after a while). She is absolutely determined and extremely stubborn, and rarely lets anything stop her from reaching her goal of undivided attention. If I’m sitting on the couch with my laptop, she’ll crawl under my arm and try to nudge the laptop out of the way—or climb right on top of it if she can. If I’m cooking or cleaning, she’ll walk round and round my feet, waiting for me to look at her. And if I’m out of reach, she’ll paw frantically at the air until someone notices and pets her. She gives “attention starved” a whole new meaning.
The one place she never tried to reach is my bed. It’s more than twice her height, and even standing on her hind legs, she can barely see over the top. So she’d sit and look pathetic, waiting for someone to come down and pay attention to her. She’d never tried to make the jump because it was just too high.
That is, until she realized she could.
One evening she made a desperate leap, and amazingly enough, she was able to hop right up onto the bed. Now she thinks she can hop right up any time she pleases. (I see obedience school in her future.)
But it got me thinking about how often we hold ourselves back “because of our unbelief.” We just figure we “can’t” do this or that, so we don’t even try. Sometimes it’s simple stuff that we figure we can’t do—stuff like understanding some math concept or picking up a new skill. Other times it really is something that’s majorly challenging.
I’ve heard a lot of stories recently about people who were able to get fantastic jobs—jobs they weren’t technically qualified for—simply because they were willing to try.
One fellow got a job as an engineer, working with highly technical plumbing products. This wasn’t something he had formal training in; it wasn’t even a field he had ever really considered. But the opportunity arose for him to enter that field and receive training in it, so he took a leap of faith and now he’s become quite successful at it.
Another guy was offered a job working as a web developer. This was an area he had dabbled in, but only knew very little about. But when he realized that that was where God was leading him, he jumped at the chance. While he’s taught himself step by step, this guy has achieved far more than he ever expected he could—simply because he was willing to take that first leap.
How about you? Are you possibly hindering Jesus’ ability to do something special—or even something you wish to do but aren’t sure you can—in your life because of your unbelief in His power to work through you? Have you told yourself “I can’t” so many times that you’ve stopped believing that maybe you can?
Some folks figure it’s being “humble” to have a low opinion of themselves and their capabilities. They tell themselves all kinds of awful stuff, like “I’m just not that smart,” or “That’s a job for talented people.” We can be totally self-defeating through our own negative self-talk and our unbelief.
God has plans for each one of us. That’s not something you have to question. Maybe the things He has planned for you are different than what you’d expect; but if you let Him, He will use you. You’ll never discover what His plan is, though, until you’re willing to get off your butt and take a leap of faith.
1 Corinthians 9:24 tells us to run in such a way as to get the prize. An Olympic runner doesn’t go into a race thinking that maybe he can win. He certainly doesn’t go into it thinking that he can’t win. He sets his mind to win, and runs as if the medal is already his.
If you know that God has great expectations for you, you can start expecting more of yourself. Take that first scary step, and then keep on running.
1 Matthew 13:58 NIV.
2 Matthew 13:55 NIV.
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by Simon W. Copyright © 2012 by The Family International