Aw, Shut Up!

It’s remarkable the things you can see out the window of an airplane. Granted, the view can be a bit repetitive at 35,000 feet. After a while, the clouds really do all look the same. When you’re closer to the ground, however, you can see some really neat stuff, and when you know the area you’re flying over it’s even better—you can recognize landmarks and can often get a different perspective on the things you take for granted from the ground.

Last weekend, as we were flying into Norfolk for a family wedding, Sharon was, as you might expect, studying the terrain fairly carefully from her window seat. She grew up in that area, living and working there for many of her adult years, as well. We were flying over a fairly unimpressive old industrial area on our final approach to the airport when Sharon let out a cackle that gave me the urge to start looking for eggs. She grabbed my arm and said “Look at that!” Being the obedient mate that I am I looked over her shoulder and saw several large storage tanks in a small “tank farm” facility. I wasn’t particularly impressed until I saw what had entertained her so.

There were two large tanks painted bright yellow. On the top of one was a huge, tank-sized “smiley face.” On top of the other were the words “Hi, Y’all!” I found it entertaining, too, but then it dawned on me that there were probably hundreds, even thousands of people who live and work near those tanks who had no idea what was painted on top. From the ground, the tops of those tanks were pretty useless. From the air, however, they take on new meanings and significance.

What a brilliant idea. The tanks were there, so somebody came up with an idea to use that spare real estate as an overhead billboard. My mind started racing—what possibilities! You could sell that space as billboards to reach all those passengers that fly in and out of Norfolk. You could paint John 3:16 on them. If there were enough tanks available, we could even put the whole plan of Salvation, complete with a model Sinner’s prayer. The possibilities were endless! If only I owned a tank farm that was right under the approach to an airport!

Then the “reality factor” kicked in, and that’s where the idea ended. I don’t own a tank farm, and it’s not likely that I ever will, but it was an interesting idea. We lose a lot of impossible but interesting ideas when we add in the realism factor. Unfortunately, we lose a lot of perfectly do-able ideas in a very similar way. Someone says “you can’t do that, “ we believe them, and a great idea dies. But, once in a while, someone has the boldness and courage to answer “you can’t do that” with “who says I can’t,” and something great happens. Some visionary looks beyond their lack of resources and decides that they’d rather try and fail than never try. Sometimes, the naysayers are silenced as something powerful is born. Sometimes they get to say “I told you so!” In either case, the difference between success and failure is that the successful person keeps on trying, even after striking out. Sooner or later, they hit a home run.

Some of us have an annoying little demon on our shoulder that constantly whispers things into our ear–things like “who do you think you are?” and “you can’t do that” and “you’ll never amount to much of anything.” We’re so accustomed to that familiar voice that we just believe what it says, without question. We get ideas, and that little demon starts cutting away at it, not really so much cutting at the idea as at your ability to make the idea a reality. I have to admit that I’ve listened to that little guy a lot more often that I ought to over the years. I’ve had a lot of good ideas that never got beyond first base. Then, one day, the idea of doing CaseStudies on the internet (it was originally a radio thing in St. Louis) came to my mind, and as usual that little liar started trying to tell me that it would never work, it would cost too much, and nobody would read it, anyway.

Then, something down inside of me rose up and said to that little demon on my shoulder, “Aw, Shut up, in Jesus’ name! I can do anything that God calls me to do, through Christ, who gives me the strength to do it!” (Philippians 4:13). I knew that it could work, I knew that it would succeed, and I knew that I knew that I knew that it was what God was directing me to do.

That little demon still drops by from time to time to try to tell me that God’s not in this, and it’s not gonna work. When he visits, I like to show him the website log reports, and the email distribution list, and the hundreds of email testimonies, and the ones who’ve accepted Christ because of what God has done with the idea that He gave.

Then, I tell the little liar to shut up and go away, in Jesus’ name.

And, he does.

You can do anything that God calls you to do, through Christ, who will give you the strength and resources to do it!

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