For nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37
After memorizing a longer Bible verse like Galatians 2:20 (“I have been crucified with Christ…”) Luke 1:37 (above) should have been a simple verse to memorize – except I kept substituting the word “for” for the word “with”: For nothing is impossible for God. I would go all day reciting “For nothing is impossible for God” then check my memory verse flash card and realize I had been saying it wrong. Both versions accurately communicate the power and might of God, but I don’t think the two words are interchangeable. The more I memorized and un-memorized and re-memorized it the more I was struck by the fact that changing those two words around made a big difference.
In this verse, Luke is actually quoting the words of the angel Gabriel as he reassures Mary, a virgin, that both she and her elderly relative Elizabeth will indeed have babies – Jesus and John the Baptist, respectively. Considering their circumstances, these births would have been impossible for these two women alone, but not impossible with God.
Two years ago, I did something that would have been just as impossible for me alone, but not impossible with God: I left a life of sin behind and became a follower of Jesus Christ. I was 52 at the time – what took so long?
When I was nine years old my dad asked our pastor to talk to me about God’s plan of salvation for my life. So one morning after a sleepover at his house I sat at the kitchen table while he shared with me what I needed to do to be saved. I don’t remember much of what he said, but I repeated the prayer he prayed and was baptized a couple of weeks later in a small pond down the road from my church. That should have been enough to assure my salvation, but that’s not what happened.
Maybe I just didn’t understand or pay attention to the urging of the Holy Spirit. Maybe I actually took that first step in the right direction but didn’t continue down that path in the months and years ahead. Maybe it just wasn’t my time. Although I’m not sure exactly what did happen when I was nine, I do know that 43 years later I was no more a follower of Jesus than I was the night before that morning in my pastor’s kitchen.
Granted, I was a pretty good guy after that experience. The people I hung around with in high school were all Christians (or at least church goers) and the rowdiest thing we did was listen to Boston and Kansas really loud on the stereo. Even as I got older and the people I hung around with definitely weren’t Christians and we did much worse than listen to loud music (much worse), I was still a nice guy. I continued to serve in church on and off and give to charity and was kind to people and animals; but none of that was enough – it never is.
The apostle Paul tells us we’re not saved because of the things we do, we’re saved because of the grace of God – a gift, not something we can earn. God was not going to overlook my sinful nature because I played piano in church on Sunday or quit doing things I knew were wrong or even because I read my Bible and prayed – I know because, shortly before I became a Christian, I tried all that. (I even started giving regularly to the church. God was not impressed with my money.)
Interestingly, though, He was eager to forgive my sinful nature when I simply asked Him to. He even promised to ignore all those things I had done that were much worse than listening to loud music. And all I had to do was believe the fact that Jesus had died in my place and accept God’s free gift of grace.
I know – it seemed too easy to me, too; which brings me back to the difference between “for” and “with”.
It was impossible for me to leave a life of sin behind and become a follower of Jesus by just doing all the right things; but it wasn’t impossible for me to do that with God: “For nothing is impossible with God.” Nothing, not even…
- …seeing my life go from one lived totally for me to one lived totally for God.
- …having a real, living relationship with the creator of the universe.
- …knowing where I’ll be a split second after my time on this earth is over.
Please know that being a Christian doesn’t give me a free pass to do anything I like just because I’m forgiven. God has pretty high expectations for me. And don’t think I’m saying I have this whole Christian living thing down pat – you only have to read here, here, and here to know that’s not true. But when I’m obedient to God and do what He expects of me no matter how tempting it is to do otherwise, there’s a joy and a peace I really can’t describe – you have to experience it yourself.
Have you experienced that joy? Have you experienced the impossible with God? I know I have some Christian readers, but today I’m not writing for them. I’m writing for someone who doesn’t know what it means to be saved by God’s grace. Maybe that’s you.
Father, your holy word says, “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” If someone reading here today hasn’t done that, please show him or her that with you, that is totally possible.
Don’t wait until you’re 52 just because now you know someone else who did. Jesus’s brother James wrote: “…you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.” Paul says: “…now is the day of salvation.”
Now. Don’t wait. For nothing is impossible with God…