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Trying to Change the Unchangeable

People love stories of how men have challenged the status quo and have done what was thought to be impossible.  Each story of success against the odds gives inspiration to others to also do great things.  For example, consider the history of man’s flight.  Many thought man could never fly, but it was Orville and Wilbur Wright who finally proved it was possible in 1903.  Just a few years later, Cal Rodgers made the first transcontinental flight across the United States in 1911.  In 1927, it was Charles Lindbergh who piloted the first flight across the Atlantic Ocean from New York to Paris.  Chuck Yeager was the first man to fly at supersonic speed in 1947, Yuri Gagarin was the first man to orbit the earth in 1961, and Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon in 1969.  Each of these feats was considered impossible, but each was accomplished by determined men.

With such inspirational stories in our history, should I consider that nothing is impossible for me?  Absolutely not.  Even though men have accomplished many difficult feats, the impossible is still impossible.  Certainly, I must recognize that "with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26), but it is God who can do "all things” and not man.  The Scripture tells me that "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13), but "all things” are limited to those things that God enables me to do in Christ.  I can do all things God requires me to do, but that doesn’t mean I can do everything I want to do.

Therefore, I must accept that there are some things that I cannot do and some things that I cannot change. Accepting my limitations is a necessary part of my faith as Romans 12:3 teaches me – "For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”  Trying to do the impossible or to change the unchangeable is an exercise in futility that is contrary to faith in Christ as revealed in the Scriptures.

With these things in mind, consider with me a few things that I cannot do and must not even try.

I cannot change the past.  No matter how much I regret anything that has happened in the past, I cannot erase its memory or change its temporal consequences.  Thankfully, I can find forgiveness in Christ and have past sins removed from my account (Rom. 8:1).  I can also repent and seek to make amends (Matt. 3:8; Acts 26:20), but the past remains unchanged.  Therefore, I should follow the example of Paul, who said, "[F]orgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).

I cannot change the facts.  President John Adams once said, "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”  Truth and reality are rigid and inflexible, and they will not bend to fit my desires.  No matter what the facts are, it is always best for me to face the truth, whether it is truth about the brevity of my life (Ps. 90:10; Jas. 4:14) or the truth about my sins (John 8:31-32; Gal. 4:16; 2Tim. 4:3-4).  When presented with the unchangeable facts, I must simply accept them and deal with them according to God’s word.

I cannot change God.  I am the king of fools if I think I can reinvent God to suit my wishes.  Many men attempt to do so and deceive themselves, but "God is not mocked” (Gal. 6:7).  There is "no variation or shifting shadow” with our Father in heaven (Jas. 1:17).  Furthermore, our Lord does not change, for "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).  Nothing man can do could ever change God, and I am thankful for that, for He is perfect in love, mercy, justice, holiness, and glory.

I cannot change God’s word.  I am gravely warned by Scripture not to tamper with God’s word.  God has commanded me neither to add to His word nor to take away from it (Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:18-19).  Any attempt to change God’s word is foolish and vain, for His word is irresistible, and it is not subject to my opinion (2Pet. 1:20-21).  God has said, "So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:11).  Many men have attempted to resist, change, or even destroy God’s word (for example, Jehoiakim in Jer. 36), but all have failed.  I may deceive myself into thinking I can interpret God’s word to suit my wishes, but I will be sadly mistaken and horribly surprised at the judgment (Matt. 7:21-23).

Therefore, I pray that God will create in me a submissive heart that is accepting of my limitations.  I must accept that some things are impossible for me and some things are unchangeable.  "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13), but apart from Christ, I can do nothing (John 15:4-6).  In our humanistic culture, we often tell one another that we can do anything we want to do, but we take the idea of lofty goals too far when we aim to transgress our God-given limitations.  Ambitious and honorable goals in the Lord are good, but I waste my time and effort when I try to do the impossible or change the unchangeable.

Stacey E. Durham



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