Philippians 4:13 – I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (NIV)
A major USA bank has recently been running television advertisements with the theme, "I Can."
It has caused me to think about how frequently we are tempted to add the three letters "n-o-t" after the word "can". In fact, it is so common that the usual abbreviation of "cannot" is "can't".
Even in the commercial world, there is wide recognition that it is necessary to take positive action in order to accomplish anything.
Another major corporation ran advertisements under the theme, "Just do it."
Twenty-plus years ago, I visited a school in rural Jamaica where the principal and teachers were working under very difficult circumstances.
I remember speaking in a classroom that would have been no larger than 300 square feet. That might sound adequate, but in fact, there was a curtain down the middle, and that room housed two classes.
The noise from the other classroom made it nearly impossible to hear. A young student asked me a question, and I had to move from the front and stand beside her before I could even hear her question.
Despite the challenges of inadequate facilities, the principal and her devoted teachers worked diligently to do their jobs. Jacks River Public School was blessed with a very devoted staff.
The principal had obtained four computers, which she set up in her small office. She loaded a computer-based reading program that she used to teach struggling students.
I possess the workbook of a grade four boy who, on September 7, 1998, couldn't even print his name. The principal worked with Darren every day, guiding him through the computer training program.
Just three weeks later, on September 28, 1998, he wrote, "A fish can hear very well. A fish has its ears inside its head just behind the eye."
That little workbook is one of my treasured possessions.
While the outstanding pedagogical achievement is very noteworthy, I was pleasantly surprised by the response from the principal when I congratulated her. She responded by quoting today's verse from Philippians 4:13.
She was operating in a situation that most of us would have considered extremely difficult, if not impossible. Clearly, she had decided to be positive, and she taught me a lesson that I have not forgotten.
Every day, situations occur where it may seem easier to be negative and add "not" after "I can." The resulting "I can't" too often turns us in the wrong direction.
May each of us rise to the challenge to "just do it" as we face difficult and challenging opportunities. May we be positive and move forward in the strength that the Lord gives us.
Prayer: Dear Father, help us always to be positive. Help us to realize that You give us the strength to follow You and help others. Help us to show Your love in all we do. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "Thy Way Not Mine O Lord" (Lyrics)