… but He can

Seven words at the heart of the issue. You can’t do it, but He can.

I was surprised when the words, ‘you can’t do it,’ left my lips headed for my kids’ ears. Surprised, first because of their contradiction to cultural messages, and second because I had not premeditated the utterance.

The message we are culturally expected to convey to our children is: ‘You can do it!’ ‘Work hard and you will accomplish all your dreams!’ ‘Look inside of yourself and you’ll find all the strength you need!’

But this was not the message my offspring needed that day. And it wasn’t the message I needed either.

After a morning of siblings fighting and yelling, my heart was growing weary and my tendency toward frustration was simmering beneath the surface. I was about to cross the line into disciplining out of anger rather than out of love.

So I did the only thing I could at the moment – I sent the culprits to their beds and walked away. I knew if I didn’t take a break I would become a culprit too, like I have many times before. I knew I was at the end of my power and resource.

As I descended the stairs into the kitchen, I lifted my heart as a child to my Perfect Parent, to my Heavenly Father. I laid my weakness and inability at His feet and asked in return His wisdom, power, and creativity. I knew I could go no further on my own.

And ever so gently the thought seeped in: your children need from Me the same thing you need from Me.

When I spoke with my children several minutes later, I asked them if they recognized their wrong choices and sin in the morning’s uproar. They both did to an extent, and we talked about confessing and repenting, though they weren’t as engaged in the process as I hoped.

And then the heart revealing and life giving question that God had prompted me to ask spilled out, stopping them and me in our tracks:

‘Do you have the ability in and of yourselves to make right choices, to be obedient to God?’

They paused, thinking. Part of me assumed that of course we’ve talked about this before, surely they know that God is their only true source of hope and help.

But answers came in the form of tentative affirmations. They thought they could do it on their own.

Initially, it saddened my heart to know that these precious gifts from God, whom Cyrus and I have been tasked with the responsibility of parenting, carry this burden and lie around with them. The same burden I’ve often carried. The lie of self made righteousness.

But, I was thankful that God prompted me to ask such a revealing question – a question that laid bare their hearts and opened them up for seeds of truth.

My husband and I want our children to grow to be completely dependent on their Creator. We want them to experience the rest and peace and joy of not being able to do it all, but of being hidden in The One Who Can. As they grow in independence from their parents, we want them to grow in dependence on God.

We want to replace the world’s messages of self empowerment with the true messages of Christ empowerment.

I want instead to tell them, as I must daily remind myself, “you can’t do it, but He can.”


I hope these words have encouraged you to look up, to Aim at Heaven. To receive Aiming at Heaven posts and updates sent directly to your in-box, simply scroll down and click the subscribe button.



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