I’ve been saying it more and more often.
“God, I can’t do today.”
“Today” in that sentence might mean the whole day, or it might mean a specific part of it; it might mean some gargantuan task or stack of tasks; or an impossible deadline or person.
“God” in that sentence isn’t a name taken in vain. It’s a name used in what we English grammar enthusiasts call “direct address,” hence the comma. Just as I might say, “Reader, keep reading and share this with someone else,” I am directly (and humbly) addressing God, because I believe He hears me and is able to come to my aid.
I can’t, but he can
So while “God, I can’t do today” could sound defeatist, it’s quite the opposite. It’s a statement of faith in a God who is so much bigger than me. A God who can do today.
It’s freeing. And it’s humbling. It’s almost fun to watch.
“Now shalt thou see what I will do.”
Occasionally, my thoughts will form words as archaic sounding as King James because my childhood church insisted on his version of the Bible. But that particular thought is a quote from Hinds Feet on High Places that has stuck with me since I first read it.
“…see what I will do”
It’s what the Great Shepherd told Much Afraid in Hannah Hurnard‘s allegory, Hinds Feet on High Places. I read that book for the first time way back in 1983, with a yellow highlighter in hand.
Those highlights have long since faded, but I still remember the Great Shepherd saying “Now shalt thou see what I will do” toMuch Afraid, the character I embraced as myself, as he asked her to trust him in what appeared to be an impossible situation that required her action.
(Much Afraid was crippled, ugly and fearful; she lived in the Valley of Humiliation with her relatives, the Fearings. The Great Shepherd had feet like hinds’ feet and could bound up the mountains of the High Places with ease. )
Her step of obedience allowed her to see what he would do — something that far exceeded Much Afraid’s expectation or desire.
She was able to follow her Good Shepherd for another day, learning through Sorrow and Suffering, as she traveled the path toward the Kingdom of Love — because she trusted that he would make her able to travel such a path.
I failed, but he covered for me
A few weeks ago, I went on a business trip as a marketer. And I failed.
I forgot to bring some of the tchotchkes and, worse, while I brought the company banner, I forgot to transfer the poles with the banner, which means I might as well have forgotten the banner.
(I had had to take the banner out of its usual case to make it fit in the plastic bin with the rest of the marketing collateral, and the poles remained hidden, tucked inside the original case that remained in my office.)
Prior to the trip, I’d been plying my body with all sorts of natural immune defenses in an attempt to overcome a virus (cold? flu?) before it took a stronghold and made me too sick to travel. Plus I had to fly — and I usually manage to make some mistake at the TSA checkpoint and cause delays (and humiliation). (Anyone who has flown with me can attest to this.) Flying doesn’t make me nervous; getting through security does.
I was so focused on those two issues that I simply didn’t focus enough on the marketing collateral I needed to take. Which was why I was going. To market. So a definite fail.
Forget and ask forgiveness
It hit me in the airport — after I’d made it through the TSA checkpoint relatively unscathed. When it was too late to fix it. And it plagued me throughout the evening and awakened me in the night — until I cried uncle (or prayed, “God, help me!”).
In return for my plea, I had a sense of “Now shalt thou see what I will do.” I returned to sleep, confident that God had even this failing under control. (Plus, worrying wasn’t going to fix anything.)
The next morning, I was fully disposed to confessing to my boss, but when we arrived at the conference where I was to set up shop, I found my table — like all the others — in the “breezeway” at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami.
Even the wind obeys him
Except it was a “windway,” not a breezeway. The city was experiencing an uncharacteristically cold, windy day. Too windy for me to set up my banner.
(I arrived just as one guy duct-taped his banner to the concrete pole he was lucky to have behind his table. Another marketer braced her two banners behind a table, convinced the bracing would contain them. Duct-tape worked; the table, not so much. A wind gust gave the banners enough strength to knock over the table while the banners themselves became projectile missiles.)
As I set up my table, flying magazines pelted me, stinging my legs. Brochures and tchotchkes flew. It was enough to convince me that hoisting a banner was a bad idea. Plus, as you know, I had no poles with which to hoist said banner.
God saved me.
That’s the only way I can explain the inextricable combination of the outdoors location for marketing (I mean, really, who does that?) and the uncharacteristic weather in South Florida.
Not every day’s “God, I can’t do today” plea is followed by so dramatic an “answer” that clearly points to God. But that was one heckuva memorable answer.
“God, I can’t do TODAY”
Today I again awakened thinking, “God, I can’t do today.” My back and my knees were aching, and I felt old, as if my own body had forsaken me. (Sharing the secret of my weight loss success backfired on me much as Samson’s sharing the secret of his strength ruined him. I’ve gained five pounds and have hurt like the dickens since sharing that post.)
But today I went to the gym anyway, determined to battle the pain with motion as my lotion between my joints. When my back hurt, I tightened my abdominal muscles to relieve stress on my back. I determined that instead of looking at pain as, well, pain, I would use it to remind me to engage my core.
(It actually helps.)
When I tell God I can’t do today, I look to him reverently, expectantly, and, like Much Afraid, I take steps of obedience and watch to see what he will do.
Today, my steps of obedience included choosing to move and looking at pain differently.
On my marketing trip, steps of obedience included exchanging worry for trust and going to sleep. (And taking steps not to make the same mistakes the next time I travel for my job.)
And while no great, unpredicted wind gust has knocked my back into painless shape, I am doing today with my Great Shepherd, my God who equips and enables me for today. And tomorrow.
Now shalt I see what he will do.