To try, or not to try… this is the question. When is it right to stop, and when to push forward – especially when it seems to defy reason?
I wonder what would have happened, if, the disciples hadn’t even tried. Standing there with a paltry five loves and two fish, they’d have had every right to say back to Jesus, ‘What’s the point? This isn’t enough for the first hungry bloke to eat!’
But, having heard his instruction… they tried.
What about that point when there was an entire panicked nation standing trapped in the desert… army behind them, vast sea in front of them. And Moses had said, ‘Forgive me, God, but I don’t think waving this stick out there will do much good.’
But, having heard the command of God, he put his own judgment aside and just tried it.
That day, when Jesus was by the lakeside and he stopped at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Come, follow me.’ And the man just got up.
Maybe it was curiosity that got the better of him, or maybe it was something else. But he was open minded, and prepared to keep his schedule open enough to just try. I don’t suppose any of the first disciples imagined on that first day that three years later they’d be swept up into the sort of drama they found themselves in. Their first steps led them out into deeper waters – more amazing than they could have ever anticipated.
God, give us the childlike trust to just try doing things your way.
And then, as with all good Biblical principles, there’s the flip side. Come on now, quit trying so hard!
Here’s a great example from Radox (shower gel manufacturors). The blurb on their product says:
How do you want to feel? The heavenly scent of basil mixed with the citrussy tang of grapefruit helps to make you feel delightfully uplifted. Enjoy the feeling of lightness, of dew-drenched grass beneath your feet, and cool grass tickling your toes.
I can’t say I’ve ever woken up thinking, ‘I need to find a product to make me smell like a grapefruit.’ How do I want to feel? Clean! Just a bit less sweaty please, and plain water will do it pretty well.
STOP (woops, overdid it a bit today!)
Radox are not selling me their product, they’re trying to put an image in my head and feelings in my soul that their product is patently unable to produce. They sell an idea. (For me, this kind of marketing doesn’t inspire much confidence in their product, honestly).
In the same way, we can spend our lives trying to get our experience to match up to some deeply unrealistic image or ‘marketing spin’ in our heads. We get it from TV, fairy-tales, society… all sorts of lies, and spend our lives feeling inadequate and disappointed that our daily experience and this ‘fantasy-story’ are so different. We try to prove ourselves perfect. We try to prove ourselves capable mothers, wives, employees, (ED: husbands, fathers etc). We try to save the world. We try to improve ourselves. We try to live up to some other image than the evident reality and truth of who we are and what our limitations are.
Here and now, we are all sinners. Here and now God is offering his way out of our destruction. We can try his way out, or our own…
It seems clear to me: we try in response to the commands and truth of God, and see what he will do. ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good.’ But we need to quit trying to maintain these other ridiculous delusions!