Apple’s Bill Atkinson is especially known for having created what looks like overlapping windows on a computer screen using complex coding that involves what are called ‘regions’. In his brilliant biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson describes how it was done. On a visit to rivals at Xerox PARC, Atkinson thought he’d seen it on one of their monitors, so he went back to reproduce it for Apple. In fact Atkinson was wrong. No-one had ever accomplished it and the people at Xerox PARC later told him they were amazed that he had done so because it was thought to be impossible. Atkinson said ‘Because I didn’t know it couldn’t be done, I was enabled to do it’.
So Atkinson did it, because he didn’t know it couldn’t be done! What could you do, if you were empowered to do the seemingly impossible?
In Leading, Alex Ferguson’s describes how as manager of Manchester United he was determined to win. Here’s how he describes how he saw his job: ‘My job… was to set very high standards. It was to help everyone else believe they could do things that they didn’t think they were capable of. It was to chart a course that had not been pursued before. It was to make everyone understand that the impossible was possible. That’s the difference between leadership and management.’
So Ferguson became the most successful football manager in history and enabled his players to do what had never been done. What could you do, if you were empowered to do the seemingly impossible?
Bill Johnson is senior leader of Bethel Church in Redding, CA. I’ve been to Bethel and seen how Johnson and his team have created a culture of expectation so that the miraculous is becoming normative. I saw and heard no hype, just a simple, practical, biblical Christianity and lots of people testifying to bodies healed, souls saved and lives transformed. Kris Vallotton, one of the senior leaders at Bethel summarises what he believes should be the expectation of all Christ-followers, saying ‘It is our destiny to do the impossible.’
So Vallotton, Johnson and others have read the bible and are praying and working to see the kingdom of heaven come to earth. What could you do, if you were empowered to do the seemingly impossible?
At the first Advent, Mary was called by God through an angel to become the virgin mother of his Son. Although prophesied many years previously (Isaiah 7:14) this had never happened before. But that didn’t phase the angel. He explained it to Mary with the infamous words: ‘nothing is impossible with God’ (Lk 1:37).
So Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. What could you do, if you were empowered to do the seemingly impossible?
Advent is a season when the seemingly impossible becomes possible. The unusual and miraculous happened and still happens today. Week after week I hear stories at The Belfrey’s staff morning of lives transformed through Holy Spirit activity. The seemingly impossible is becoming possible. That’s why the vision of The Belfrey – the church I have the privilege to lead – is to be serving God’s transformation of the North. We want to play our part in seeing the seemingly impossible happen in our region. Because we are daring to believe, with the angel, that ‘nothing is impossible for God’.
So what about you? What could you do, if you were empowered to do the seemingly impossible?
ACTION: Take a Notebook and write down one seemingly impossible thing you would like to see change in the world (eg. peace in a war-torn area; eradication of a particular disease; etc). Then examine your heart and see if there has been a seemingly impossible thing that the Lord has been stirring in you for a while. Maybe you’ve been thinking about it recently and reading today’s blog has reminded you of it. Write it down in your Notebook.
PRAY: First for the world: take your one big impossible world prayer and offer it to God. Ask him to do the seemingly impossible. Don’t rush this but allow the Holy Spirit to stir your heart and lead you into deeper, further prayer for the world. Then look at the seemingly impossible thing you have written down about your own life situation and offers this to God today. Ask him to unfold his plan over the coming weeks and months of how the seemingly impossible might happen and pray that as he does so, your response will, like Mary, be one of obedience and cooperation.