“The things that are impossible with men are possible with God.” Yes, face it out to the end. Cast away every shadow of hope on the human side as a positive hindrance to the Divine; heap the difficulties together recklessly, and pile on as many more as you can find: you cannot get beyond that blessed climax of impossibility. Let faith swing out on Him. He is the God of the impossible.” The Glory of the Impossible pp. 5- 6
It was early morning, over three decades ago, when I awakened my husband with a strange request. Would it be alright with him if I went to the corner coffee shop to work something out in my mind. “I’ll be back in time to fix breakfast.” He muttered something through his sleep that I interpreted as “yes.” On the way out the door I grabbed a book from the bookshelf to give me an appearance of legitimacy. (“What is she doing here this time of morning, for goodness sake?!”)
Fact is, I had been wrestling for several months with a passion to write out my life with young children: a processing of the joys and challenges of the transition from being my mother’s daughter to being my children’s mother. I would find myself jotting down ideas on scraps of paper throughout the day or recording conversations or questions in my journal to “take up for further thought.” Was I going crazy, I wondered, or was there a point and purpose to my madness?
My plan was to have this out with myself and with God – once and for all. It seemed that I was doing more than writing an article or a think piece. Each new thought spawned a sub-thought or invited counter-balance. Development. Could it be a book? Impossible.
Impossible. I was the mother of 3 young children: a toddler, a pre-schooler, and an early grade schooler. Furthermore, my husband was a minister and that invariably added additional responsibilities to my life or time commitments to his. When would I ever have any time to write something of that scale? And, if I did, who would publish it? (No one was saying, “You ought to write a book, Miriam.”) Moreover, who would read it?!
I ordered a mug of coffer and opened the book, Adventures in Prayer by Catherine Marshall, then leafed through the chapter titles. One caught my eye: “Prayer Helps Dreams Come True.” I scanned the chapter, rich with real-life illustrations, which she concluded with a series of questions to help one determine if one’s “dream” springs from selfish human will or the will of God. She had my full attention:
1. Will my dream fulfill the talents, the temperament, and emotional needs which God has planted in my being?
2. Does my dream involve taking anything or any person belonging to someone else?
3. Am I willing to make all my relationships with other people right?
4. Do I want this dream with my whole heart?
5. Am I willing to wait patiently for God’s timing?
6. Am I dreaming big?
Am I dreaming big? I could literally feel chills pass through me as I read the final test. She elaborated: “The bigger the dream and the more persons it will benefit, the more apt is it to stem from the infinite designs of God.”
Yes, this was big. Impossible. As I reviewed each of the 6 tests in light of my situation, it became clear to me that all I could do was to present my reality to God. I didn’t know how I could possibly write a book amidst all my other responsibilities but I was willing a) to be faithful to my those commitments; b) if there was time left over to use it to write. I did remind God that if this was truly His Will for me, He would have to help me at each step of the way.
And He did. Every morning from that time on, I awakened at 5:30, without the aid of an alarm, wrote from 6:00-7:00 at the corner coffee shop – and returned home in time to prepare breakfast and the children for their day. The rest of the writing, typing and editing took place in small chinks of time throughout the day. Within a year, the book was written and accepted by Doubleday for publication (another “miracle” story). Five books later, I can honestly say, that it has never been so easy, either in the writing or the publication, as that first book.
Amy Carmichael wrote, “Our Lord is always asking the impossible of us. He is always, trusting us to rise to it. And best of all, He is always standing alongside to make the impossible possible.”
While this was perhaps the most dramatic working out of a dream – an impossibility – in my life, it has been my observation ever since for myself and for others – in big things and in smaller – that this is a pattern. Those things that God “asks” of us – some seemingly insignificant, some overwhelmingly immense – He also provides the strength and the insight and the determination to carry it to the finish.
This does not mean that there are not obstacles along the way or even delays in the results. Furthermore, the “end” might be quite different that the initial idea that gave it thrust. (Some ideas are discarded along the way!) But those things that God intends for our collaboration with His Purposes, there are no difficulties, no hindrances that “cannot get beyond that blessed climax of impossibility.”
“Let faith swing out on Him. He is the God of the impossible.”
Painting: Travel Journal 1896-7
I am so thankful that you listened and obeyed. I have enjoyed that book you wrote so many years ago. Even this blog is such a pleasure to read. You definitely have a gift from the Almighty.
Angela Crews (Scott’s wife 🙂 )
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I read today, in Springs in the Valley, ‘With God nothing shall be impossible’. The reading referenced Lilias Trotter and her booklet, ‘The Glory of the Impossible’. Googling this reference led me straight to this post. And what has been a main focus of my prayers this past year? Precisely what you cover here. Thank you.
I’m so glad that you have now discovered Lilias! I, like you, read Mrs. Cowman’s devotionals – Springs in the Valley, Streams in the Desert – and remember reading a quote from Lilias Trotter years and years ago not realizing how Lilias would eventually impact my life. Thank you for your comments! Miriam
I also have a copy of Streams in the Desert, which has been a rich source of rare gems over the years.