Impossible Comes True

Ladies and gents, this is the moment you’ve waited for.

Recently, our family went to see The Greatest Showman. It was, hands down, the best movie we have seen together in a long time. Possibly ever. And I say that, knowing well the implications of that statement. I sat in the theater with a giddy grin the entire time. I became teary at moments and wanted to shout in triumph at others; I clapped at the end. Ever since we saw the movie a few weeks ago, we have listened to the soundtrack countless times, we have danced ourselves silly to the driving rhythms, and we have celebrated the story all over again.

I recognized certain biblical themes right away. Accepting all of God’s children. What happens when we put our faith in material items. Idolatry. Greed. Faithfulness. One thing, however, has been on my mind. I continue to consider and question why this movie has resonated with so many. Yes, the songs and choreography are amazing, but the entire storyline was striking as well. The lyric that has been on my mind is “impossible comes true, it’s taking over you”. Why are we so drawn to the impossible? Why is the concept of doing something undoable so enticing? Because God placed it in our hearts. God wrote and carried out the impossible story for us and for His glory.

Babies aren’t born to virgins, but Jesus was. Kings aren’t born in stables, but Jesus was. Five loaves and two fish don’t feed thousands, but Jesus made it happen. Blind men don’t just gain sight, but Jesus made it happen. Men don’t walk on water, but Jesus did. Men don’t die and come back from the dead after three days. But Jesus did.

God knew when He created us that we would be drawn to the impossible. He created us to crave Him and the things He has to offer.

Matthew 19:26 says, “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.””

This verse is in reference to our ability to be saved by God. We can’t understand the depth of this gift. We won’t understand on this side of eternity. Yet, it’s ours for the taking. As the Bible says, “He has also set eternity in their heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NKJV).

When we have impossible needs, His word tells us, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NKJV). We can’t do the things God does. He loves to see us revel in the miraculous. When a doctor says, “The only explanation is divine intervention”, God is taking His bow. When we unexpectedly receive the money we needed to pay a bill, He gives us the slightest nod and adjusts His top hat a little. Because He designed our hearts, He can thrill us every time. And we must respond in applause and adoration.

One thing that sets God apart from any other deity is that He shares the impossible with us. He could easily enjoy all the miracles Himself, yet He shares them with us. He allows us to be a part of His Greatest Show.

Just like P.T. Barnum gathered all the people who would have otherwise been excluded, Jesus befriended the odd and unwelcomed. He sat with the woman at the well and lovingly told her the life she was living was not her best (John 4). He invited Zacchaeus, the dishonest, vertically-challenged tax collector, over for dinner (Luke 19:1-10). He cast out demons from Mary Magdalene, and then allowed her to be one of the first to see Him after resurrection (Luke 8:2, Mark 16). We are drawn to these accounts, most likely because we see ourselves in them. We want what we know to be impossible to be possible in our lives, and God has given us that gift.

If you’re a Christian, I hope this is resonating with you. I hope that if you’ve seen the Greatest Showman and you have excitedly told everyone you know to go see the movie right now (like I have), that you recognize the importance of telling everyone you know about your impossible story as well. If you are not a Christian, and you want in on the excitement, I hope your heart is feeling a little tugged on as you read this. I hope you understand that this gift is yours. God has done the impossible, and we just have to accept it (John 3:16).

2 Peter 1:2-4 says, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature” (NKJV). He wants you to be a part of this.

Is TheGreatest Showman an exact account of the Bible? No. And it wasn’t intended to be. P.T. Barnum was criticized for fooling people and for enhancing reality, but every word in the Bible is true (See Proverbs 30:5). There isn’t any smoke and mirrors or sleight of hand. God isn’t tricking us or deceiving us to “up His numbers”, so to speak. God has nothing to gain and nothing to lose, but we have everything to gain with Him and everything to lose without Him.

As the opening song, The Greatest Show, says:

It’s everything you ever want
It’s everything you ever need
And it’s here right in front of you
This is where you wanna be

So tell me, do you wanna go?

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Discipline

I think I was about eight years old when I first heard that our parents discipline us because they love us. My eight year old self was floored. In my mind, discipline meant a spanking or losing something important to me. How in the world does that show love? My teacher explained what we know to be true as adults: parents who love their children must use discipline to keep them safe, socially acceptable, and spiritually sound. We all know discipline isn’t fun, on the giving or receiving end. It pains me to take away things my kids love, and it breaks my heart to spank them. But I tell myself all the time, I would rather have them upset with me for five minutes now than be embarrassed by a disrespectful, deviant adult child in fifteen years.

This week, I have been listening to Shannon Miller’s audiobook, “It’s Not About Perfect”. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you probably know about my love for gymnastics, especially the 1996 Olympic Team. I enjoy watching the events, but I am also intrigued by the preparation that goes into becoming an Olympian. Shannon Miller describes the strict schedule she adhered to and the rigorous training she endured. She physically and mentally prepared for years to become the strong, yet graceful, gymnast she was. She never missed a day in the gym- even during a recovery period for a broken elbow. When she couldn’t put weight on her arm, she continued to strengthen her legs. When she couldn’t swing around on the bars, she hung on the bars. When she couldn’t run a routine full out, she mentally ran through each motion. At competitions, she didn’t focus on scores, hers or her competitors’. Shannon competed against herself. She worried about doing her best, hitting every skill, landing every dismount, making her coach proud.

In high school, I was part of a very disciplined dance team. Our moves were precise and crisp. Our uniforms were classic- pressed and perfect. We were expected to behave as young ladies. We represented a tradition of excellence. Before each dance, we focused on the moves while listening to the music and doing a mental run through. We tuned out cheers and shouts from the stadium. We were sometimes mocked as “Russian gymnasts” because of our stoic demeanors. If we missed a kick or fell out of a stunt, our spot in the dance was on the line. If our grades fell below passing or we received a detention, we would potentially lose our ability to dance the following week. Every count was important, on and off the field. That being said, I still have nightmares about forgetting steps or missing practice, thirteen years later.

This kind of discipline is a discipline mostly motivated by fear. Shannon Miller knew the Olympics were on the line. I wanted to dance and avoid disappointing my parents, coach, and team. Neither one of these practices are bad. I think this kind of discipline is good for character building and learning to succeed. But there is a discipline that is more important, and that is Godly discipline.

My natural instinct is not to go to my Bible or pray. My natural instinct is not to wake up early to have quiet time with the Lord. It takes discipline. But even though my natural instinct says to go to my friends to express my concerns or sleep in and skip a daily devotional, my love of God says to keep coming to Him. My ultimate goal is to please God and live a life that brings glory to Him. The only way to do that is to spend time with Him, and the more I do it, the more natural it becomes.

Every dance we did on the football field was followed by a kick routine to Scotland the Brave, as our mascot was the Highlanders, and it was our school song. I can still do the dance, and so can my sister, who was on the team as well. We basically did this dance in our sleep. I was disciplined enough to not only learn the dance, but to know it backwards and forwards. When we put that kind of intense focus on Scripture, how much more is that worth? Can I share the gospel with a high kick? I know “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”, but it’s not likely. I can memorize John 3:16, which says, “For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life”, and point someone to heaven.

Shannon Miller says, “It’s important to have a plan, a big picture…It gives you something to work for.” What are you working for? Are you memorizing a verse? Practice saying it every day. Write it, share it, doodle it. Are you reading through a book of the Bible? Set a reminder on your phone to read every day. Are you trying to pray more? Schedule it like a meeting. Eventually, your discipline will become second nature. You will forget what it was like without that sacred time. God will not let that time be wasted. Your time is precious to Him. Psalm 1:2 says, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” Make God your delight. 

My delight in high school was making the dance for the week. I loved putting on my uniform and being part of my team. Shannon Miller felt a reverence for her red, white, and blue leotard. I delight now in my husband and my children. But ultimately, I pray that my delight will be in the Lord. I pray that my discipline will continue to grow into instinct. My goal is for God’s glory to be seen, so I will push toward that goal.  When I can’t swing on the metaphorical bars, I’ll hang on them. When I can’t be God’s hands, maybe I’ll try being His feet. If I can’t go full out, I’ll go all in. As the saying goes, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

What are you working for?