The other night, as I was watching the Billboard Music Awards, one of the award recipients was sharing some words of wisdom during her acceptance speech that caught my attention. She used a phrase that I have heard many times before. In fact, maybe it’s a phrase you have used.
“Anything is possible.”
Now, I am sure this lady and all others have the best of intentions when they share this hopeful encouragement, but I’ve got to tell you it just isn’t a completely true statement. No matter how much I hope for it or plan accordingly, I’m never going to flap my arms and start flying like a bird. I’m also never going to be a different race. While these examples are a bit of hyperbole, I think you get the point. Anything is not possible.
So, why do we tell people this sort of thing? Why do we fill young people’s minds with lies like this? I really do think it comes from our best intentions. This particular time, it came from a lady who grew up in a rough neighborhood with the world seemingly telling her she couldn’t do anything, but she rose above it, and she accomplished much. Therefore, she wants others to know to chase after their dreams, because “anything is possible.”
I think the church often looks to verses like Philippians 4:13, which says, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” (NIV). That sounds pretty convincing on its own, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this is often taken out of context. If one were to look at what Paul is talking about before and after this particular verse, he or she would see he is speaking of enduring hardships in Christ’s name. Those are the “all things” he can do through Christ. Although, many Christians still use this verse to back up their thought that “anything is possible.”
As a youth pastor, I am all for encouraging our young people. That is one of the things to which I have dedicated my life. They need to know they are valued and that they have amazing God-given gifts to offer the world. They don’t, however, need to hear that “anything is possible,” because I think it will fill their minds with a lie.
Maybe I am going overboard on a harmless phrase. Maybe no one really cares or truly believes that “anything is possible.” Maybe I’m on a soap-box for no reason. Maybe you are right. But I can’t help but think that some people have bought right into this, and they have went through life believing they really can do anything to which they put their minds. Then, that inevitable day comes when they are confronted with the realities of life, and their dream doesn’t come true. Perhaps they wanted to be a rock-star, but they cannot sing or play an instrument. Those are some pretty important prerequisites. They might, though, be really good at computer programming, and God may want to use that to do something great!
Instead of “anything is possible,” I think they need to hear that God can do awesome things through them. And if something is within His will, He can definitely make it happen, even when it seems impossible. But more than anything, they need to know they can trust in God, and when they do, He might do some things that are unlike anything they have ever imagined. He has given them gifts, talents, and abilities, that He wants to use. Instead of sharing an unintentional lie, maybe we should start telling an intentional truth that God has huge plans for them. And maybe He will do some things in their lives that seem impossible. But don’t tell them, “anything is possible,” because that’s not exactly true.