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I love the story of the man who prayed for God to miraculously remove the huge pile of dirt from behind his new home. He claimed Matthew 17:20’s promise: “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
All night, he fervently prayed, but when he awoke, there—still—was the huge pile of dirt. But in front of it, something new:a shovel and a wheelbarrow!
God won’t do what we can do!
For instance, in this true story, a church in West Virginia needed the mountain behind the building moved so that they could build a parking lot. The pastor declared a “Move the Mountain Sunday,” but alas, Monday morning the mountain was still there. But there was also, at the church door, an official from the state highway department. “We need several thousand tons of fill dirt for a road project. We were wondering if we could remove part of the mountain from behind your church.”
In John’s Gospel, we see the same principle: God won’t do what we can do. Jesus is going to raise Lazarus from the dead, but He asks the bystanders to move the rock sealing the tomb. And after the miraculous resurrection, Jesus asks the bystanders to help Lazarus off with his grave clothes. Now, you would think, that if Jesus could raise a man from the dead, he could also easily beam Lazarus right through the stone and give him brand new clothes as well!
This principle appears throughout the Bible. God is more than willing to do what we can’t do, but He refuses to do what we can do. Gideon’s band of 300 men can’t possibly defeat an army of over 100,000, but they can create a commotion around the enemy camp with their pots, torches and trumpets so the enemy is terrified and turns on itself. The lame man’s friends can’t heal him, but they can tear up the roof and lower him in front of Jesus. Christ’s disciples can’t multiply loaves and fishes, but they can distribute the food and collect leftovers.
What mountain are you facing today? Rather than a miracle, God may provide a shovel—or the state highway department!
Copyright © 2011 James N. Watkins