Peter actually walked on water for a few steps because he had his eye on Jesus and believed that he could step out of the boat and walk, because Jesus had invited him out. But it was when he suddenly realized, “Wait a minute; I’m walking on water; I’m not supposed to be able to do this,” that he went down. In a few simple steps, he went from “I can,” to “I can’t,” and, sure enough, he couldn’t.
Walking by faith is a challenge to live in the impossible. It’s doing what you shouldn’t be able to do, and as long as we say “I can’t,” we won’t be able to do it, even with Christ standing right there. That’s why faith is so much more than just believing; it’s doing, based on that belief.
Belief isn’t static. You don’t sit there and believe. Belief is not a contract you sign, as in, “I pledge to believe these things.” That’s the Christianity I grew up with. As long as you sign the contract, you can do anything you want. But true Christianity is all about action. It’s about overcoming fear, giving up self, empathizing with others, fighting battles with the enemy over old habits and addictions, being vulnerable, entering into the moment instead of remaining aloof, giving instead of receiving, forgiving when we want to blame, being kind when we want revenge, loving when we don’t feel love — all those impossible situations that call for the Spirit of God in us — that is when we say “I can” according to the power which works within us. True Christianity is dynamic movement towards a goal, and the goal is to be like Christ.
“Oh, that’s easy; just be like Christ. I can do that,” we think, but we can’t. Like walking on water, being like Christ is impossible for us without one key element: The Spirit of Christ in us and the faith to act on it. That’s why it’s faith. It’s believing in a God who can provide what we don’t have, but need, in order to obey Him.
Peter says, “By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.” (2 Peter 1:3) And Paul said (beginning with a quote from Christ), “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
In light of this, “I can’t” is nothing short of blasphemy. It’s an affront to the Holy Spirit in us. Belief deals in the realm of “can’t”s because it is all about action — action in the realm of the impossible.
Imagine Gideon getting right up to the moment of attack — the moment God wanted him and his 300 to show their torches, blow their horns and shout — and deciding after all that he couldn’t do this; and imagine him laying down his horn and his clay pot, then putting out his torch and going home. What would have happened? Unless God would have raised up another one of his warriors to carry out the plan instead of Gideon, they would have all gone home and lost everything to the Midianites. And you and I wouldn’t have had a Gideon to follow.
So pick up your stuff, show up for your life today, and replace “I can’t” with “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 Italics mine)