How to Overcome Impossible Obstacles

Mountains You're Facing May Be Smaller than You Think

One thing I’m still learning on my journey of faith is not to make assumptions about mountains, or obstacles and challenges I encounter along the way. For one thing, mountains are not always what they appear to be.

Half_dome_yosemite_nationalpark_t1

In the late 1800s, Half Dome was described as being “perfectly inaccessible.” Until someone blazed the trail and installed eye bolts into the granite. Now tourists regularly accomplish what was once considered an impossible feat.

When the Hebrews faced the Red Sea, they thought it an impassable barrier. It wasn’t. When we were homeless and without money, buying a house seemed impossible. Not so. [Get some encouragement and read more of our story in my new book A Story Worth Telling.]

Whatever challenges you may be facing today, rest assured that they only seem like mountains from your perspective. And perspectives can change.

A Story of Overcoming Mountains

My friend Daniel Buell was the co-founder of Cornerstone Christian Academy where I served for a dozen years before stepping out to answer God’s call to write as a Kingdom catalyst. He too faced a seemingly impossible task in the summer of 2000 when he agreed to lead the effort to launch and open a college-prep school for grades 7-12—in less than two months!

At the time, only eleven students were enrolled, I was the only teacher with a contract, and the school had not yet been charted by the state of Ohio. Anyone with any experience in education will tell you that these barriers Dan faced were insurmountable. Perhaps with an additional year—and a lot of money—the task could be done. Maybe.

But Dan persisted by faith, believing that God had called him to run toward the seemingly impossible to establish a vibrant Christian school for God’s glory. He built a dedicated team quickly and spent a lot of nights in the office, watching the sun come up on yet another stack of completed paperwork.

Nothing came easily. And that is often why choose to walk away from the challenge of a mountain. Overcoming them is never easy. But mountains make the ideal settings for the best stories to reveal the majesty of God.

Incredibly, when the first bell rang, the school opened with full faculty, an enrollment of 131, and state-charter status in record time—an accomplishment that was nothing less than a bureaucratic miracle.

Today the school is thriving. It consistently enrolls around four hundred students annually in grades K-12 and sends graduates to the best colleges and universities throughout the nation. Where most saw impossibility, Dan saw something different: opportunity. Here’s his perspective: “A mountain is merely a change in the terrain you must travel, so keep hiking.”

And that’s the other funny thing about mountains. From God’s perspective, there are none.

You may have heard the expression that someone is “making a mountain out of a molehill,” making a big deal about something that is truly insignificant. We all too easily forget that God sees no mountains, only molehills.

If we can remember God’s perspective as we answer his call to live a story worth telling, we can patiently be still and watch him work, like Moses, even while we keep moving forward–even running toward–the mountains we encounter and overcome by faith.

Question: What mountains are you facing now that seem impossible to you? How might your perspective change if you could see them as opportunities for God’s glory to be revealed? You can share your thoughts with other FaithWalkers by clicking here.

When God created each of us, he gave us a will, and that beautiful and mysterious inner life we call the soul. Just as you would want to give your growing son or daughter room to make his or her own decisions, God steps back a bit to let us make ours.

These simple moments of decision are filled with significance. When I choose to avoid whatever it is God has brought up, something in me weakens. Something feels compromised. It is at least a refusal to mature. But it also feels like a refusal to step toward God.

Thankfully, the opposite is true. When I choose to face the uncertain, admit the neglect or enter into my fears, something in me grows up a little bit. I feel strengthened. The scales tip toward a closer walk with God.

Whatever else we do with these moments, let us be honest about one thing—there is no getting to it later. We don’t get to it later. It simply goes away. And I wonder—how often do we say to ourselves, “I’ll simply do it later,” knowing that it will never happen, and thus we appease our conscience in the moment and avoid the issue, let it slip away under the ruse of “later.”

So, how do we walk with God in the day to day, in the moment? We go with it. Now. As it is unfolding. That is the only way to have any real relationship with Jesus Christ.

The One Thing Every FaithWalker Must Do

And Why Each of Us Easily Qualifies to Do It

Every Christian wants to one day hear the words, “Well, Done!”  Each FaithWalker wants to do great things for God. But most of us think we just don’t have what it takes to qualify for the Faith Hall of Fame.

Heroes of the faith

We’ve all got stories we tell ourselves about why we don’t belong on the field with those “Major League Christians” we meet in the pages of Scripture. [See my post The Myth of the Minor League Christian.] It’s as if we think we must be perfect in order to qualify for walking by faith.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Thank God!

In fact, do you know the one thing every FaithWalker in Scripture seems to have had in common? Failure.

The Myth of the Minor League Christian

Are You in the Game or Tailgating in the Parking Lot?

When I first stepped out by faith to pursue God’s call to write, I heard many people say, “That calling is not for everyone,” as if the call to follow Christ on a faith adventure were reserved only for the Christian elite—not the rest of us who should “bloom where we’re planted” in the Christian minor leagues.

Minor_league

You can discover more of my story and the resistance I encountered in my book A Story Worth Telling. But the idea that there are two classes of Christ followers—the Major and Minor Leagues of Christianity—is not new.

The Apostle Paul addressed this urge to create an upper class of Christians when he said, “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:5-6) The Church unintentionally reinforced this thinking with the idea of sainthood, setting up icons to commemorate ordinary Christians doing what God had called them to do. And for many centuries, everyone knew the best Christians, those most serious about following Christ, secluded themselves in monasteries. The major league faith took place behind those walls, while the rest of the rabble settled for being minor league disciples.

Jesus says: Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend—it must transcend all comprehension. Plunge into the deep waters beyond your own comprehensions, and I will help you to comprehend even as I do.

Bewilderment is the true comprehension. Not to know where you are going is the true knowledge. My comprehension transcends yours. Thus Abraham went forth from his father and not knowing whither he went. He trusted himself to my knowledge, and cared not for his own, and thus took the right road and came to his journey’s end.

Behold that is the way of the cross. You cannot find it yourself, so you must let me lead you as though you were a blind man. Wherefore it is not you, no man, no living creature, but I myself, who instruct you by my Word and Spirit in the way you should go.

Not the work which you choose, not the suffering you devise, but the road which is clean contrary to all that you choose or contrive or desire—that is the road you must take. To that I call you and in that you must be my disciple.

What to Do When Regret Makes Its Move

6 Healthy Responses to Making a Mistake

No one enjoys making a mistake. But it’s especially tough to respond well to regret when we hear our harshest critic screaming inside our own heads: “LOSER!”

quotivee_mobile_0008_Youre-never-a-loser-until-you-quit-trying

Often the most debilitating part of making a mistake is how we beat ourselves up afterwards. When regret makes its move, we’re lucky if we can still see straight.

I experienced this when my team and I debriefed recently about the launch of my latest book A Story Worth Telling Your Field Guide to Living an Authentic Life. In addition to celebrating what went well, we discussed mistakes made so we could learn from them.

But I must confess that I focused on my mistakes way more than I should have. And thinking about those mistakes left me more than a little discouraged.