Quit Trying So Hard
Now repeat after me I started “I can’t do anything”. The teenage boys looked a little puzzled but went through the motions “I can’t do anything’, they repeated. Then I followed with “now repeat this”, and I continued, “With God all things are possible!” They repeated that phrase a little more enthusiastic but not much. I don’t know what I was thinking but I had wavered far from the script. It was a high school boys basketball league and I was one of the coaches. It was a Christian organization and each week there was a devotion before the game. It was the job of the coaches or referee assigned to the game to lead the group of both teams in the devotion. The script was written out and was supposed to be read. It was a booklet with a story and things to think about at the end. Most of the kids treated the talk as just a formality before they could play the game that they loved. I went on to tell a story I shared on this blog in January. It was about a lady in a counseling session with my pastor at the time. She stated “Pastor, I’m going to be a better Christian, I’m going to read my Bible and pray more, I’m going to…and on and on she talked.” The pastor told us “right there I knew that she was doomed for failure.” His reasoning was that she was doing things in her own power. He knew that her “I’m going to” phrase could only lead her to failure. At the end of my little talk I had them repeat after me again. “I can’t do anything” and then “With God all things are possible!” I don’t remember who won the game that day, but those words at the little devotional are and will always be true!
Sandy Koufax was one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball. He is the youngest player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame. He pitched in the major leagues for 12 years. So you probably would conclude if you didn’t know anything about his career that he must have been a success from the start. Nothing could be further from the truth. For the first six years of Sandy’s career he had a record of 36 wins and 40 losses. The best word to describe his pitching up to that point was mediocre. Sandy was blessed with an outstanding arm. He had a fast ball that blazed from his hand. His problem was that he didn’t know where it was going from one pitch to another. He had a problem a lot of pitchers have had over the years, he was wild.
Norm Sherry was Sandy’s catcher in 1961. In spring training he had a talk with Sandy. “Why don’t you try not throwing the ball so hard”, Norm offered. Sandy tried what Norm suggested and found that by not trying to throw the ball as hard as he could he actually could control it. He also found that he had about the same velocity on his pitch as he did when he was trying to put the extra umph into it! From 1961-1966 Sandy had one of the best if not the best six year stretches in baseball history and it came about because he quit trying to do too much!
David Wilkerson tells a story in his book “The Cross and the Switchblade” that was a big help to him in his effort to reach the gangs in New York City with the gospel. As you may or may not know Wilkerson was a “country preacher” in Pennsylvania when he was up one night paging through a Life Magazine. He came to a story about a gang of teens in New York City who had murdered a handicapped kid. God started speaking to Wilkerson about going to New York City. Wilkerson could not get the thought out of his head and went back to the city numerous times. He never got to meet the gang members he saw in the magazine, but he was led to have a city wide crusade for teens. For four straight nights Wilkerson preached to a small amount of gang members with little or no success. As he was driving home totally depressed from the lack of success of his efforts, a gang member who he had befriended said to him, “you are trying too hard.” That little message from a gang member who knew nothing about God made Wilkerson laugh. He realized that he was trying instead of leaving it to God. That was the turning point as the next night when Wilkerson turned the whole effort over to God the big breakthrough occurred! In the middle of his sermon with the gangs in their usual mockery mode Wilkerson bowed his head. “Lord”, he said, “I’ve done all I can do, if any good is going to come out of this meeting it will have to be from your power.” While he had his head bowed the room slowly became quiet. Now Wilkerson could feel the presence of the spirit! “He’s here”, he said “and he’s here to change your life today.” When he gave the invitation many of the gang members actually ran up to the altar to have their lives changed. All of this started when Wilkerson took the advice of a homeless gang member who knew nothing about God. He realized that he was trying too hard and stepped out of the way so God could take over!
Sometimes I have to laugh when a person with high tech knowledge talks to me about what is wrong with my computer or what they did to fix it. When they leave my head is spinning and I’m thinking “What did he just say?” Usually it’s the case of don’t explain how electricity works to me, just show me where the light switch or where to plug it in. The same can be said about God. We don’t have to know how he works, we just need to know that he does! We cannot supply the power, but if we plug in to his power he can do great things through us! Thinking back on it I wasn’t entirely right in what I said to those teen basketball players that day. I said “I can’t do anything.” Actually there is something I can do. Like Koufax and Wilkerson I can quit trying so hard. I can plug myself into God’s power outlet and let him use me.