"Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God." - William Carey
The words written above were spoken by William Carey at an associational missions gathering of pastors in 1792. At the time, the prevailing sentiment among church leaders in England was one of indifference and open hostility towards the idea of taking the gospel to the nations. One of his contemporaries summarized the general opinion of the time when he criticized Carey by saying, "Young man, sit down! When God pleases to convert the heathen He will do so without your help or mine."
While each one of us would rightly object, I wonder if in practice, our lives declare an affirmation of this idea because of a lack of witness to our neighbors. I write this, because I have been convicted of a lack of faith in God's ability to do the impossible. Planting a church is a daunting task, reaching our neighborhood is seemingly impossible, and seeing the gospel go forth into every tribe nation and tongue above my wildest dreams, and yet we serve a God who does the impossible.
In Matthew 19, Jesus addressed the question of a rich young man who asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" Jesus' answer left the crowd stunned and his disciples so distraught that they asked Him, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus' responded to their question by saying, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." It was as if Jesus was saying, 'Yes, there is no way that you can earn God's favor, so I will earn it for you. I will do what you cannot.'
I can only imagine the thoughts running through Carey's mind as His family boarded a Danish ship sailing to India in April of 1793. Trouble and hardship lay ahead, everything he had known being left behind, and yet he did not waver in His belief in God's ability to do the impossible. "Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God" was his mantra, and his example stands as encouragement for us today. My prayer for us today, this week, and this year, is that we would live in and share Carey's hope. Hope in the unassailable, always faithful God who does the impossible.