The little sisters went into a room to play ball.
“We must be careful not to wake the white cat,” the tall one spoke softly.
“Or to spoil the roses,” the fat one whispered, “but throw high dear sister, or we shall never hit the ceiling.”
“You dear children,” thought the white cat, “why do you come to play here at all? Only just around the corner are the shady trees and the birds singing on the branches, and the sunshine flecking the pathway. Who knows but what, out there your ball might touch the sky? Here you will only disturb me, and perhaps spoil the roses, and at best you can but hit the ceiling!”
I came across this story a while back as I was preparing for my weekly English Free Talk class, and I thought that it spoke a great truth about human potential. That truth is that we define the limits to our own potential. Why place all of our energies in an area where we’re limited by our own natural abilities and talents? We cannot exceed our own limitations on our own. It is like being in a room and trying to hit the ceiling with the ball rather than changing the circumstances and making it possible to reach for the sky! There is an aspect of human potential that makes it possible for us to exceed natural limitations; it’s called faith. Today I want to post on “reaching for the sky.”
Mark 9:21-24 (NKJV)9:21 So He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. 22 And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." 23 Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"
Can You Believe?
I was inspired by the story of these sisters because it speaks about something I talk about frequently; self-limiting behavior. Look at what our text says, “If you can believe, all things are possible.” So the question is, “Can you believe?”
For example, do you have the faith to believe that if you tithe that God can help you to do as much with the remaining ninety percent, as you could with one hundred percent that isn’t blessed by God? That’s a question of faith: With God all things are possible.”
Do you have faith to believe that you can fast for three days? Can you believe that you can tap into God’s power through fasting?
Mark 9:27-29 (NKJV)9:27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" 29 So He said to them, "This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting."
Both of these are things that allow you transcend normal human abilities. This is accessing the supernatural. It’s what I mean by “Reaching for the sky!” If the circumstances of your life make you think that what you need from God is impossible, then you are playing ball in a room where you will only reach the ceiling. There are limits to what you can do. There are limits to what can happen through your efforts.
If you exercise your faith through prayer and fasting you can remove the limits and the sky becomes something that’s within your reach. Exercising your faith puts your circumstances in God’s hands:
Matthew 19:26 (NKJV)19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
What really inspired this post was talking to people in my congregation about a three-day fast that was coming up. I asked them individually, “Are you going to fast?” I received a number of different responses, such as the following:
“I’ll fast at breakfast.”
“I’m only going to fast on Tuesday.”
“I have to work.”
My wife and I ended up being the only ones who fasted the entire three days. I had offered options when I announced it, in an effort to encourage people to join with us and stretch the limits of their behavior. “If you’ve never fasted maybe commit to one day or try to do what you can do!” My intention was to get people to stretch themselves. We had never had anyone commit to fasting with us in prior fasts. The problem was I said “stretch yourself,” but everyone heard “you only have to fast for one day.” The other thing I said was this: “Do you know what they call fasting without prayer? Dieting.” I was encouraging them to join us and pray, but no one did.
I’m not complaining about it, I’m using this to illustrate how we “build a room” around our faith. This is self-limiting behavior. People wanted God to move. People needed God to move but didn’t create an opportunity where God could move. A move of God is activated by faith!
Think about this:
A woman comes to Jesus who’d had an issue of blood for twelve years. She thinks, “If I can only touch His robe, I can be made well!” She fights her way through the crowd; she reaches Him and touches the hem of his garment. She’s literally lying on the ground grabbing his cloak. What does Jesus say to her? “Your faith has made you well.”
And there’s this:
A woman comes to Jesus; her daughter is demon possessed. She’s not a Jew, she’s a Syro-phoenician woman; a pagan. At first, Jesus tries to send her away. He says, “It’s not right to give the children’s food to dogs.” He’s saying this isn’t for you, it’s for the Jews. The woman persists, “Even the little dogs get the crumbs that fall from the master’s table!” Listen to His response: “Great is your faith – Let it happen as you want!”
Finally, there’s this:
A blind man hears a great commotion. He finds out that Jesus is coming down the road. He shouts out, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Everybody tells him to be quiet, but he yells it again, even louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus hears him, and asks, “What shall I do for you?” The blind man asks for his sight. Jesus says, “Go your way your faith has made you well.”
Faith is what makes the impossible, possible! Without faith, you are limited to natural laws of physics. You can only throw as high as your strength allows. But with faith, you can grab a hold of the supernatural. That means you can go beyond what is naturally possible. You can throw as high as your faith allows. You can even reach the sky!
What Does Your Faith Look Like?
In the biography of Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson, there’s a story of Jobs recruiting a man to take the helm of Apple Computer. He’s the CEO of Pepsico. At first, the man turns him down. The man is having a crisis. He’s not sure he can move to California. He doesn’t know what’s best for his children. He’s wondering how taking on this failing company will help his career. There were so many things to consider. Finally, Jobs asks him, “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to change the world?” After all of this, he agreed to become Jobs’ successor.
All of these questions in his thinking: All of these circumstances distracted him from his faith in himself. We, as Christians, allow circumstances and our thinking about them, to distract from, and limit our faith in God. That’s what the white cat in the opening illustration was talking about. You have to be careful of waking the cat. You have to be careful of spoiling the Roses. It makes it difficult to reach the sky! We sometimes are so focused on the cats and the roses in our own lives that we can’t break through in our faith.
This man that took over Apple computer almost threw away the opportunity to change the world by worrying about the things that would take care of themselves.
Matthew 6:30-33 (NKJV)6:30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
When you act in faith then, “all these things shall be added to you!” Victory comes through faith. Great victory comes through great faith!
In 1 Samuel, chapters thirteen and fourteen, the Philistines have again attacked Israel. Saul has taken six hundred men to meet them, but they’re hugely outnumbered and people are deserting. Saul’s worried about these things: “What happens if I lose?” “How can I keep things together with all these men leaving?” So he sits under the pomegranate tree doing nothing. He’s not moving. He’s not preparing for the battle. He’s just sitting there. He represents the army of God, but he has no faith. His lack of faith has paralyzed him. There can be no victory without a fight!
How often are we like Saul? We have a need but we just sit there doing nothing. We even call that faith. We don’t pray, we don’t fast, or we pray our little prayers and complain when it doesn’t happen right away. There is the possibility that God is ready to move but we haven’t created an opportunity for God to move. There’s also the possibility that God is moving but it doesn’t look like what we’re expecting, so we wait; just like Saul!
There is another side to this story, though. Jonathan and his armor bearer are also there. They’re on another flank. They’re in a different area. They are also greatly outnumbered. There’s a garrison of Philistines. A garrison is a fort. This is their home ground. Jonathan and his armor bearer are only two people, but Jonathan isn’t worried about distractions. He’s not saying, “Oh dear, there are only two of us, how many can we possibly beat. What will they do to us if we don’t win the battle?”
Instead, he calls on God to show him what to do. When God shows him, he does it! God gives two men a great victory over the Philistines. They couldn’t have done that on their own without faith! With faith comes victory – With great faith comes great victory!
God Moves in the Supernatural!
I want you to see the last moments of the battle against the Philistines:
1 Samuel 14:13-16 (NKJV)14:13 And Jonathan climbed up on his hands and knees with his armorbearer after him; and they fell before Jonathan. And as he came after him, his armorbearer killed them. 14 That first slaughter which Jonathan and his armorbearer made was about twenty men within about half an acre of land. 15 And there was trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and the raiders also trembled; and the earth quaked, so that it was a very great trembling. 16 Now the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and there was the multitude, melting away; and they went here and there.
God brought an earthquake and the Philistines melted away! God moved supernaturally to bring about the victory. God moved in a way that Jonathan could not!
How many reading this are looking for a victory in some aspect of your life? How many need a move of God in your finances; your love life; your health or your ___________? (fill in the blank!) How many need something from God? How many of you are willing to do what God says to do to get it? Bring tithes into the storehouse; seek first the kingdom of God; this kind comes out with fasting and prayer; “Your faith has made you well!”
Are you throwing a ball and hitting the ceiling, or are you throwing it to reach the sky? The things you think are impossible, aren’t impossible for God! “With God all things are possible!” We know that intellectually. We can recite that scripture. It’s easy to say, isn’t it? We say it all the time, in fact, we have a banner in our church that says it in Chinese, but do we have the courage to live it? You really can have victory in your life, but you have to have the courage to step out in faith because no faith equals no victory! Remember the wisdom of the white cat. Do you want to throw a ball to touch the ceiling or do you want to reach for the sky?