Authored by Dan Roselle
There will be times in our lives when we’re pretty sure that we need to do something, or we feel God is asking us to do something, but we just don’t want to do it.
Maybe we’re lazy.
Maybe we’ve never done it before.
Maybe it seems like too much work.
Maybe we’re afraid of failure.
Whatever the excuse—I mean, the reason we have—it’s not always a good basis for not doing something. Let me explain where I’m coming from.
Recently I’ve been involved in doing some remodeling on our property. I should first of all make it clear that I am not a handyman. I don’t have the skill or the patience for it; the things I build are usually not very sturdy or beautiful. Often someone skilled has to fix up what I’ve done and make it look nice. I’m also clumsy and I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been an accident waiting to happen. I’ve hit my fingers with a hammer, slipped with a drill and drilled into my hand, I cut my leg with a chainsaw, carelessly cut myself with a box knife. … Not only that, but I just don’t like handyman-type work.
Well, some months back I asked the Lord if there was anything He wanted me to do or focus on, and one of the things He asked me to do was to remodel various cabins and buildings on our property in order to make it more conducive for future plans. While I wasn’t too thrilled about it, I did say “yes” and I dove into the project.
The project took longer than expected. I did my best to research, study, and learn to do everything that needed to be done. At last there was only one job left—the plumbing. A few pipes under the building needed to be attached, but I couldn’t afford a plumber at the time. I knew that with research and study, I could probably do it, but I was also afraid of failing, so the plumbing went on hold.
Have you ever been in a situation where you were having a hard time accomplishing some undesirable task that you were assigned, and you were hoping against hope that somehow you wouldn’t have to do it? Maybe you were hoping your parents or brother or sister would do the job for you. Or maybe you hoped your teacher would recognize the difficulty you were having and would say, “That’s okay, you don’t have to finish it.” That’s sort of the feeling I had. In my case, I was hoping that a master plumber would show up out of the blue and go, “Hey, I would be glad to do that plumbing job for you—for free!” Well, the angelic plumber never showed up. And so the project remained unfinished.
It’s not like I heard some booming voice from heaven saying, “I want you to crawl under the house and do the plumbing.” Rather it was an inner conviction that I just knew Jesus wanted me to complete this project.
There were quite a few men in the Bible who also found themselves in similar positions—they were presented a task by God and had to decide whether or not they would see it through.
One of those men was Jonah.1 When God presented him with the task of warning Nineveh, his response was to run the other way. Sometimes in the past, when reading the story of Jonah, I would arrogantly wonder how Jonah could so easily say no to God. But when experiencing my plumber dilemma, I began to wonder what made Jonah want to run the other direction in the first place. The Bible doesn’t give any details about Jonah’s feelings on the matter. Could it be that Jonah didn’t feel skilled at preaching or talking in front of many people? Or maybe he was very shy and preferred to be on his own? Or maybe he had been to Nineveh before and didn’t like the place? Suddenly I could understand where Jonah might have been coming from. We know that eventually Jonah did obey and warn the Ninevites as he was supposed to, and whatever reasons held him back from doing it in the first place, he overcame them and did a good job in the end (even though he experienced some difficulties too).
How about Noah?2 The scriptures don’t go into detail about Noah’s abilities. We know that after the flood he was a farmer and planted a vineyard; however, before the flood I wonder if Noah was much of a carpenter. Maybe he’d never even seen a ship before he started building the Ark. The Ark was estimated to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high, which is about the size of a small cargo ship. As you can imagine, it was no small feat for Noah to tackle the Ark-building assignment. And of course, we know from the Bible that “Noah did everything just as God commanded,”3 whether he felt he had the skills or not. And as Noah obeyed God and did what He showed him, Noah found that he could do an excellent job at ship building.
Back to my personal story. I soon tackled another remodeling project, but this time I was under pressure to finish it, as someone needed to move into the building I was working on, so the electrical and plumbing work needed to be completed. I researched, studied, counseled with professionals, and while it took me longer than a skilled professional, I eventually installed all the plumbing for the small building and successfully rewired some of the electrical system. What a thrill it was when I turned on the main water valve and saw that it worked! It was the same with the electrical work. I don’t know how many times I turned the main breakers on and off to double-check the connections. When I was sure that both were completed, I had someone with extensive experience in both plumbing and electricity check my work, and he gave me passing grades. It felt so good to accomplish something that I knew I wasn’t skilled at.
It became clear to me after completing the plumbing and electrical work on this small building that the Lord was trying to show me that even if I don’t feel qualified for or interested in doing some type of work that He would like me to do, if I really put my heart into it and commit to doing it, I can accomplish what I didn’t think possible. After successfully completing this second project, I gained the confidence that I could complete the plumbing on the first project.
I like how Saint Francis of Assisi made this point. He said, “Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
Is there anything you’ve been putting off that you know in your heart you should be doing? If you’ll just start tackling it and put your whole heart and efforts into it, I’m pretty sure that you’ll discover that you’re more capable than you think! And the satisfaction of completing something you don’t feel good at or would rather not do is quite rewarding. You’ll see!
1 Jonah 1–4.
2 Genesis 6–9.
3 Genesis 6:22 NIV.
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright © 2012 by The Family International