What only God can do
“So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Then Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot, his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants, I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South.” (Genesis 12:4-9, NKJV)
Occasionally some individuals or families go over to China for the purpose of mission or to learn the language. And often these people try to look for anyone they might know who lives in China, so that they may receive some help. Since it can be quite difficult when they first arrive in a new country, they go to the region/area where someone they know lives with hopes of receiving help from them. And they are probably helped out. But the problem is that not only do get help, they also get influenced. As a result, they become shaped by those people and get stuck in a rut. For instance, if it is a person in ministry going overseas, he will be influenced by the minister he goes to and finds himself trying to fit into the framework of his ministry. For another example, if someone is going overseas to learn a language, he will likewise be influenced by the frame of mind and practices of the people he seeks help from. In the long term, such influences are not beneficial and instead cause more harm.
Let’s say someone is migrating to the US. Then this person would look for people they know living in the US and move to the region they live. They happen to have a laundry business. He also needs to find a way to make a living and consider what he might be able to do. And in the end, he ends up opening a laundry shop too. In another instance, one’s acquaintance operates a supermarket. And that acquaintance was the first person to help him out when he arrived there. He would find himself opening a supermarket himself.
The same happens in ministry. If I were to go to China for the first time and I meet a particular minister there, my ministry would become fixed within the set frame of that minister’s ministry and I would find it hard to break away from it. Thus if I happen to meet people in ministry in Korea, I am likely to follow their approach to ministry; if I meet a person with a deep interest in mission, I would most probably get involved in the mission. It means someone has had an influence on me.
Similarly, the reason I can do this ministry with an eye to see the whole of China is also because somebody had some influence on me. It is not that I was clever or that I am a man of great capacity. Rather, the missionary I met when I first went to China was doing such mission work, which opened my eyes in that way too. But there were others who didn’t have the same influence. When they first arrived there, they met missionaries that focused on working for overseas students. And consequently, they also find themselves doing mission with a similar approach. Hence, who you meet at first is very important.
When Abraham left his home country and arrived where God led him, there was no one there he knew. God had told him to go to the place where he knew no one. Thus for Abraham to leave his country and his father’s house was a challenge of his faith, but at the same time, it was very important for God too, since He has to lead him and turn him into a new person. As Abraham went to a new land where there were no acquaintances whatsoever, he didn’t have anybody to follow the example of, to guide or influence his life. The only one he met there, who continued to lead him and speak to him, was God. And so he was taking after God. His way of life resembled that of God and he began to have God’s purpose in his heart. That is why God instructed him to leave his country and father’s household. It was important that he went where there was no one he could rely on and follow, in order that he is led by God alone, and can take after God and have His vision. And it became so as Abraham obeyed.
However, it had not been that way from the very beginning. Abraham initially took his nephew Lot with him. He also took with him everyone he had acquired in Haran. It was only after Abraham parted ways with Lot that God began to work actively upon him; He hadn’t prior to that time. That is, God wanted Abraham to have only the influence and guidance from God and no one else. And He took him to the land of Canaan saying He will give him that land, but the land was already occupied by the Canaanites. Yet God said He would give that land. It seems quite absurd that he would possess that land because for Abraham, there was only him and his family, but living in Canaan already were many nations. Moreover, his whole household wasn’t with him; he had to do with all by himself. This meant that it is absolutely impossible unless it is done by God. Hence only when all is done with the strength from God, by taking after God and having God’s purpose in his heart, he would later be able to testify, this was truly God’s doing. Otherwise, if it is something that man is able to achieve by himself without needing God’s help, then how can anyone believe Abraham even if he were to testify that God did it? Yet what Abraham comes to experience later on are extraordinary things which no one but God can do. Abraham could not rely on any other person, which is exactly what God wanted. God wanted to demonstrate that it is entirely God’s working by taking this man Abraham and starting everything new. In other words, God wanted to demonstrate His righteousness.
Our faith life is about doing that which is only possible for God to do. It is not that we are getting extra help from God to achieve what we can do by ourselves easier. Rather, what God has given to us is that which is impossible for man, what man cannot even perceive nor understand.
What God gave us is the forgiveness of sins, which man cannot achieve regardless of his merits or how hard he works; it is impossible without God. And becoming born again is absolutely impossible. To make oneself holy and self-discipline are all achievable with man’s efforts. But to remove sins and become born again are impossible apart from the power of God. To enter the promised land, the kingdom of heaven is impossible no matter how hard man tries. Only God can do it.
That is why our faith is about attaining that which only God can give. Thus for us to have many testimonies like these, it is important that we display the power of God, the works of God that are only possible for God to do. Perhaps a person is very hard-working and diligent to achieve a good result.
That’s great, but if that person can display the works which are possible only with God, then that result is achieved by faith. These are wonders, extraordinary events. We should have testimonies that such wonders were not done by man, for they are utterly impossible with man’s abilities. When something extraordinary happens, we must not only commend the person to whom it happened as though it was by his own abilities. Instead, we ought to testify that it was truly God who has done what is impossible even with man’s hard efforts. Our testimonies should be about how God has truly done for us what would have been impossible by ourselves. Testimonies should not only consist of recognizing the person’s achievement and how capable he might be. Rather, we need to testify that it was God who worked through that person to do what is only possible for God. Let us pray for us to have many of such testimonies.
God our Father, we try our hardest using all of our wisdom, knowledge and strength, but in everything we do, help us to witness more of the wonderful works which are impossible without Your help. Help us to have an abundance of testimonies that God has been with us and display only God’s righteousness. Even if we are working to help many souls and build up the Church, Father, we cannot rely on our good character or efforts. Help us to be humble and recognize that this work is only possible with God’s help, and thus have many more testimonies. Thank you God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center