Chapter 15 – Oh, the Possibilities!
The “Law of Possibilities” reminds us the scope of God’s providential means and methods are beyond human understanding. I am convinced the process of growing in our faith involves the passionate, teeth-clinching, crying in our pillow at night trust that keeps us around long enough to see God work in unexpected ways. When I think of God’s providence in terms of probabilities, I am awestruck by the infinite nature of the equation.
When possibilities increase, so do opportunities. I am a terrible golfer, but I play in tournaments for worthwhile causes. At one time my golf equipment was sorely outdated, and a bit embarrassing. It consisted of my father’s old wooden driver, an incomplete set of rusted irons with disintegrating hand grips, and a two-toned bag from the 50s. To help complete this picture you must also know the bag was made of white and turquoise vinyl with leather trim.
One day, after a church tournament, my golfing partner knocked on my office door. He entered carrying a lightly used bag of golf clubs. It seems he has just received a new set of clubs for his birthday and he wanted to give me his old stuff. What he really said was, “I don’t want to be embarrassed when we play in the next tournament.” As far as I was concerned his motives were irrelevant.
The next time I played golf I proudly displayed my new used bag and clubs. Did they help me play better golf? Well, yes they did! The driver head was twice as big, and I didn’t have to use a nine iron as a pitching wedge. The clubs were also better suited to my 6.2 frame, as opposed to the short clubs my father had passed down. I didn’t instantly become an experienced golfer, but I had better options, thereby increasing the probability I would have greater success.
At the risk of reducing God’s realm to a golf bag, I am convinced this principle speaks to us when our certainties are tested. The difference is, God calls the shots, and the “Law of Possibilities” reminds us He has limitless resources and an infinite number of ways to use them. “All things are possible with God.” How does He demonstrate this self-revealed truth?
First, God has dominion over nature in form and function. He put all matter in motion and has the authority and ability to alter our earthly reality. Miracles are difficult to replicate in a laboratory because they operate outside the scientific norm. We pray for the physical healing of loved ones who have been declared “terminal” because we believe God transcends our human glossary. This doesn’t mean He will always give us what we want, but we know He can, and possibly might. The One who created nature’s laws are not bound by them.
Secondly, God uses ordinary circumstances in extraordinary ways. He works within the natural processes He has already established to providentially influence our circumstances. This doesn’t mean He circumvents our freedom to choose, but rather that He finds ways to be faithful to us while remaining firm in His purposes. If we consider how the ordinary people, places and events in our lives intersect on a daily basis, then multiply these by the infinite divine option of God, the possible solutions to our personal trials are mind-blowing. This is why people of great faith are so good at waiting. It isn’t because they know the outcome, but rather that they have been surprised by God too many times not to trust Him implicitly.
Third, God accomplishes eternal purposes through our temporary circumstances. I have wondered if the apostles ever questioned the value of their sacrifice when they endured persecution for the sake of Christ. I feel certain there were days when they felt underappreciated. Yet, they persevered, not because they thought the kingdom rose or fell on their shoulders, but because they were convinced they were a part of something bigger than life. The Apostle Paul must have had this truth in mind when he wrote, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
This same attitude is found throughout history and today in the testimony of those martyred for the gospel. It was even present in unseemly seasons of the past when Christians hunted down their own brothers and sisters to torture and kill them in the name of doctrinal purity. Cam God work in these situations? Absolutely! Our view of God’s plan is limited to the things we can see, hear and touch. His is eternal.
With experience, our conversation of faith is less about judgment and more about waiting and meditating. Every day we hear people in statistically rich environments such as professional sports or politics, predict the future. But how can we accurately predict what God might do when we don’t even understand everything He is capable of doing? Instead, we learn to stand in the presence of the One for whom “all things are possible” and be ready for anything.
The 80% of certainty I stand in as I journey with God is being constantly transformed. The foundational truths remain the same, but my awareness of how God might exercise His absolute sway in the universe deepens. The more I learn, the more I find I need to learn. The existence of so many possibilities and my trust in God gives me the courage to stand, even as fear and doubt crouch at my door.
Gabriel’s precept of “all things possible” came in response to Mary’s simple question: “How will this be?” (Luke 1:34). She was sexually pure out of obedience to God, so we can appreciate her confusion. When God’s hand moves out of the realm of human possibility, how can we go forward?
The “Law of Possibilities” opens our spiritual eyes. It teaches us to prognosticate less and trust more. It also gives us the courage to walk with God through the process of pain, whether or not we can see the future with clarity.