The Desperation of Impossibility

 In Blog, Charles Cavanaugh

Though I could not swim, I stepped into the gradually deepening water of the lake. I slowly walked away from the shore. What would it be like to wade up to my chest? Not bad. Maybe just a little farther; up to my shoulders. I was facing the shore but gradually moving backwards. Now I was to my chin, and the water was near my mouth. Something strange began to happen. It felt like a current was pulling me away from shore. I was on my tiptoes, and I could not seem to control where I was going. I was frightened beyond words; words which could not come out. I was desperate and helpless. I thought I was a goner.


Of course, I did not drown, but it was a close call. Standing as high on my toes as I could, I pulled my arms through the water, pushing myself forward until I could stand on firm ground. Then, shaking with fear and relief, I walked to the shore. While that sense of desperation did not leave immediately, I was grateful to be alive.


Perhaps you have had such an experience, a time when the impossibility of the situation left you desperate. It can be frightening, or worse. How vulnerable we are, and how dangerous life can sometimes be.


And so it can be with parenting. At first, the initial thrill and excitement outweigh any foreboding. There is nothing quite like this. “I have begotten a child.” But it is not long until your thought becomes,”What have I gotten myself into?” Conscientious Christian parenting is a daunting task. Being the spiritual leader of a Christian home is daunting, even impossible.


How do we build a Christ-centered home? We must define our target and aim for the bull’s eye. We must press toward the mark and put ourselves completely into the work of building a Christ-centered home. But we must quickly and consistently embrace the desperation of impossibility. As Christians, as parents, and as pastors and church leaders we are always cast upon the God we seek to please. And we come to know and are continually reminded that, “Unless the LORD builds the house, we labor in vain who build it” (Ps. 127:1). At the risk of sounding absurd, desperation is only bad if it leads us to despair, but it is profitable when it drives us to our Lord.


I have been reminded recently that this process never ends. Even as the Father of adult sons, I am still building(though in a different way) and still cast upon The Lord to build. I am in a spiritual venture with my Lord, and I am very much the “junior partner”. I am often left helpless, with nothing to do but cast myself upon Christ my Rock.


Do you need a list of saints to assure you that you are not the only one? There is Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joseph, Nehemiah, David, Jeremiah, Peter, and Paul. Even Christ was finally and ultimately cast upon the Father.


A list of how to’s is not your answer. A loving dependence on Christ and His grace is both the beginning and the path to a Christ-centered life and home. May our Lord lead us there and keep us there through the desperation of the impossible.


Looking to Christ,

Charles Cavanaugh

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