I just can’t

They all said it would be ok, that it would work out, and you should give it a try.  But you can’t convince yourself.  You think back to the previous three times you did try, and failed…miserably.  It wasn’t safe then, and you have scars to prove it.  What makes now any different?  After all, isn’t it just better to stay put where at least you know what to expect?  “Sure,” you think, “everyone says I have everything to gain.  But what they don’t say is that I also have everything to lose.  I just can’t fail again.  I can’t.  I know I should, but I just can’t ___________.”

Can’t what?  What goes in your blank?  Maybe it’s a relationship, job search, diet, exercise program, or education.  Maybe it’s trying something new, or making a new friend.  Whatever goes in that blank, it’s all too easy to get stuck where we are, and become fearful of venturing out.  In fact, we even begin to build fortresses to protect our position, just to insure that we don’t have to move.

If we look at a very familiar passage of Scripture, the Tower of Babel, we see people doing that very thing.  I’ve always heard teaching about the Tower of Babel to indicate that people were being prideful and self-reliant, and indeed they were.  But I think there’s more to it than that.  Take a look at Genesis 11:4:

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves, and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

The tower builders obviously had two purposes for their construction project.  Firstly, they wanted to make a name for themselves.  And here we certainly see man’s prideful, self-reliant spirit.  But I think I’ve too often skimmed over and missed the second purpose for their project.  They were trying to prevent themselves from being scattered across the earth.  The original Hebrew word for scatter is puwts, and it means to literally dash into pieces.

Shortly after we adopted our four Ukrainian children, Olesya, the youngest girl who was five at the time, was helping set the table.  She accidentally dropped a dinner plate, and as it hit the hardwood floor, it literally shattered into thousands of pieces.  Unsure of how we’d respond, Olesya cowered in the corner with fear and anguish in her eyes.  With a reassuring hug and kiss, and kind words uttered in Russian, her fear quickly subsided and all was well.  But I can well imagine these early people fearing the same fate as that shattered plate, filled with the same sense of foreboding as Olesya.

But being dashed into pieces was hardly God’s original intention.  As Noah and his family exited the ark, God blessed and commanded them to “fill the earth” (Gen 9:1).  “Filling the earth” and “being scattered across the earth” might sound quite similar to us in English, but in Hebrew they are quite different.  Filling or replenishing the earth comes from the original word mala which means to consecrate, refresh, endow or accomplish.  Although God’s original instructions were given in a positive sense of blessing, people turned it into something negative and undesirable.  Notice that the end result is the same – people are spread around the world.  But people’s perspectives about the result are vastly different than what God originally intended.

I wonder how many times we do the same.  God calls us out of our comfort zones, and presents us with an opportunity.  His intentions are to ultimately bless others through our obedience, and yet, we turn it into something fearful.  Think back to the beginning of this post.  “I know I should, but I just can’t ___________.”  What did you put in that blank?  I wonder what would happen if we were to imagine God’s perspective on our blank, rather than our own fear-filled view.  How might that change our willingness to step out and take a chance and try?

      Everybody’s watching you now – Everybody waits for you now
      What happens next? – I dare you to move
      I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor – Like today never happened
      Welcome to the fallout – Welcome to resistance
      The tension is here – Between who you are and who you could be
      Between how it is and how it should be – I dare you to move

These lyrics from Switchfoot’s song “Dare You to Move” offer a great opportunity and encouragement to re-focus and re-imagine our “blank” from another perspective.  Have a listen, and I dare you to reconsider your “blank” – I dare you to try, I dare you to risk it, I dare you to move…