Taking “I Can” to “I Can’t”: the shift to power

hannah5If you ever need a couch moved up a flight of stairs, I’m your girl.  Seriously.

Placing the full-size sofa on its side, I positioned it at the proper angle, took a deep breath, then pushed.  Then lugged. Then pushed and lugged some more, and I and the couch eventually arrived at the top of the stairs.

When I was later sharing with my next-door neighbor how I spent my day, she sharply scolded me.  “Pam, why do you do things like that when you know we can come over and help you?”  My streak of independence runs wide and long.  And God forbid anyone would tell me I can’t do something.  I take you can’t as a challenge, more than anything to prove to myself that I can.  Like the time a couple of farmers at a gas station in middle Nebraska told me there was no way I was going to pry into my car, keys locked inside.  In my desperation to get back on the road quickly so I wouldn’t be late for a work assignment, I asked for their help.  (Yes, the earth rumbled.)  After they surveyed the window and door frame, one of them responded with, “Naw, you’re out of luck. You can’t get in there.”  That’s all I needed to hear, and minutes later I was driving down the road.

In my everyday challenges, I will pray as though everything depends on God and work as though everything depends on me, until — totally powerless — I hit a wall I cannot scale and there is no force on earth that can make something happen and it takes the might of an omnipotent God to intervene.

Like …

  • when the weight of my verbal abuser’s words became an unbearable load and I pleaded for it to stop
  • when I sat at the bedside of my terminally ill mother … and husband and father … daily pursuing a comforting answer from medical staff as to when things would take a turn for the better
  • or when the one in my life who was addicted could not be convinced that help was necessary

That’s where Hannah was — in a powerless position.  Desperate for a child, her discouraged, embittered heart would not allow her to eat.  Adding insult to injury, her rival, Peninnah, would taunt the childless Hannah.

“Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her.  This went on year after year.  Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat …  In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.”  
(1 Samuel 1:6-7, 10)

Year after year, she incessantly prayed for a child, until one day there was an abrupt halt to the frustration and bitterness.   After worshiping, the high priest Eli spoke to her saying, “‘Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.’ She said, ‘May your servant find favor in your eyes.’  Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.”  (1 Samuel 1:17-18)

What happened to cause Hannah to lift her head and carry on?  Scripture doesn’t give a definitive explanation; I surmise that because of Eli’s blessing there was a shift in her attitude.  She came to the end of herself, which is where God could begin.hannah4

Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost For His Highest says, “The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty.”  AA’s Step 3 states, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”  It’s not a giving up but a giving over, choosing to make peace with the discomfort of uncertainty and living above powerless circumstances, not in them, knowing that He will make everything right if I surrender to His will.

I must become willing to be comfortable with the discomfort of powerlessness.

God is honored when I submit my deepest longings to Him, and in the giving over I experience deeper communion with Him.  My trust grows, enabling me to turn more of my uncertainties over to Him, watching as I see His hand at work in ways I never imagined possible. I gain more power through shifting my will to His.  Why would I want things any other way?

Experience power.  Make the shift.


Make us a part of your daily reading at Breath on Paper. 


img_9181-1Pam Weyant recently traded the harsh Midwestern winters for the sunny South.  When she is not spending her time as a freelance court reporter, you will find her loving up her adorable cocker spaniel, hiking, traveling, writing creative nonfiction, or working out.  Her passion is sharing her story so others can join her in celebrating the freedom found in a redemptive Savior

4 thoughts on “Taking “I Can” to “I Can’t”: the shift to power

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