#291 (24/06/07)
Step up to a Better You: I Can't...He Can...Let him!

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

EMILY SCHREIBER
She has been featured on the Today Show, Fox News and ABC. Her story has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated for Kids and the American Girl magazine. At the age of nine, Emily Schreiber was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis and rather than retreating, she threw her heart and mind into making a positive difference. Her original goal was to raise three thousand dollars for Cystic Fibrosis research. But after exceeding that by $57,000, she made it her passion to swim laps to raise money for the illness. To date, she has raised over $600,000 for the disease and continues to hold fundraisers to support research. Today nearly one hundred thousand people all around the world live with Cystic Fibrosis and suffer from its debilitating symptoms. Emily swims against the odds and is fueled by her faith in Jesus Christ and His power for her life.

Special Music

Hymn
"Joyful, Joyful..”
"Praise to the Lord, the Almighty"
"God is My Strong Salvation"

Anthem
"To God Be the Glory"
“All Creation”
“Praise Him/Shackles”
“My Will”

The Message

I have fond memories of the time when my children were young. You know my children are all grown now. I remember when my youngest son, Anthony, was five years old and he wanted to go to a birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese. He was going to a friend's birthday party, and he is just five years old. When we left our house he kept saying, "Dad, Mom, don't walk me in to Chuck-E-Cheese." So we had this discussion as we drove to the party. Anthony wanted to go into the party by himself. So we dropped him off at the front door, but he was carrying a big green balloon filled with helium. Green was his favorite color; in fact it was one of the first words he learned. So he had this great big green helium balloon and he walked in to Chuck-E-Cheese. We dropped him off at the door, but then I quietly walked in back of him and I just watched the balloon. I saw the balloon bobbing along. As I was keeping my eye on the balloon I thought, "This place is so crowded, he will never find the party." I watched this balloon move through Chuck-E-Cheese for about two minutes. Finally I walked over to him and I said "Anthony," and his eyes were as huge as saucers! He said, "I can't find the birthday party." I replied, "Anthony, I'll help you." All of a sudden he had this wonderful peace come over him, I took his hand and we walked together through Chuck-E-Cheese and we found the birthday party. It is amazing how we hold on to our childish behaviors. We want to do things on our own and we think we can manage all on our own. The fact of the matter is we need a lot of help. Only when we seek and receive and are willing to accept the help do we really get where we want to go in life.

 

Today I want to share with you some interesting information. In a recent message I started talking about the 12 steps. I talked about a gentleman by the name of John C. I talked about and shared how this Cathedral would not be here today without John C. Well, John C. happens to be John Crean. John Crean also helped us build the prayer tower that we have here on the campus. He also gave us Rancho Capistrano, a 97-acre ranch in San Juan Capistrano, California. I talked about John C. recently and that week John C. went to be with the Lord. It is amazing how God works in people's lives. God knew that John C. was coming home and the memorial service was held here in the Cathedral for John. John is buried in the Memorial Gardens.

What did John C. live with? John C. lived with a creed called AA, the 12 steps. The first three steps are as follows

1. I will admit that I am powerless over my addictions and that my life is unmanageable.
2. I will acknowledge that God is greater than I and that He can bring restoration to my life.
3. I will turn my life over to God.

Those are the first three steps of the 12 steps that are used by people who are really struggling with addictions of all sorts and kinds.

I had a dear friend of mine, a fishing buddy that I spent a lot of time with who continued to struggle with his alcoholism. He was a Vietnam Vet and he joined the Navy in hopes that he wouldn't have to spend any time and see any real combat. When he joined the Navy, they put him on a riverboat and sent him up the delta and he saw all kinds of horrible things. When he came home from Vietnam, he found his comfort in the bottle. One night I went to his house and we had an intervention. I said "You need some help." He agreed. So I drove him up to a place called Capo by the Sea, which was a recovery center and we checked him in. A week later I went and saw him and he was happy and he was bright and he was alert. He said, "Robert, I've learned something here." I replied, "What have you learned?" He said, "I've learned a line that I will take with me the rest of my life." He said, "I can't, He can, let Him." That's what he said! "I can't, He can, let Him." When I heard him say those words it summarized the first three steps of the 12 steps better than anything I'd ever heard before in my life.

I can't, that's where it begins. There are things in this life that we just cannot control. It might be addictions, it may be outside circumstances, but the fact of the matter is there are things in life we cannot control.

I'll never forget when my daughter, Christina was 2 years old, and she fell from a play set that I had build out of wood. It was a lot of fun building it and the greatest thing was giving it to her on her birthday. One day she was up on the platform and she fell about two feet to another wooden platform and we didn't think anything of it. She hit her head a little bit and we looked at her and she was fine and she went off playing the rest of the day. There were no signs of any trauma whatsoever. The next morning she got up and I was ruffling her hair and as I did, I felt a bubble on her head. It wasn't a knot like you would get when you normally hit your head, it was a bubble like a water balloon under her hair. I said to Donna, my wife, that we had better have her checked out by a Doctor. Well, we did and she had a skull fracture. We took her to a neurosurgeon who had suggested we do surgery. I said, "The first thing we want to do is get a CAT scan." We went to the radiologist who said, "You need to somehow hold her still for four minutes." Donna was pregnant at the time so she was not allowed to go into the machine area because of the radiation. That meant I was to go in there alone with Christina and I had to convince this two year old child to sit motionless in one of these great big machines. Is there anyone who thinks they could sit still for four minutes and not move? I can't. Four minutes is an eternity. Christina had just learned how to pray and she would fold her hands and she would close her eyes and she would hold perfectly still as long as I prayed. So she sat there on this table and she held her bottle with her teeth, and her blanket on her chest and I said, "Christina, lets pray." She folded her hands and I said, "Dear God thank You for Christina, thank You for the doctors," and after about 30 seconds, I said, "Amen," and as soon as I said Amen, guess what she did? She wanted to get up because the prayer was over. The radiologist said, "You have to hold her still for four minutes." So this time I started praying and I started praying "Dear God, thank You for Christina's big toe, and her little toe and all the other little toes as well. Thank You for her foot, that beautiful foot which helps her move." We prayed for four minutes and she sat there and held her bottle and she held her hands folded until the CAT scan was complete. The good news is she didn't have to have any surgery at all. They said the fluid would simply be absorbed by the body and the skull would heal itself.

It was totally and completely out of my control. I couldn't control the fact that she had to have the CAT scan, I couldn't control the fact that she had to sit there for four minutes perfectly motionless, and I couldn't control the fact that she had this injury. Everything was out of my control. There are things in life that are totally and completely out of our control. We have to realize there comes a time in our life where we simply have to say, "I can't." I do not have the ability or the means. I can't. But God can.

Galatians 6:3 says it this way, "For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself." He deceives himself. I can't. But the fact of the matter is that God can. When you read Proverbs 3:5-6, and you can hear it so true. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." I can't, but He can.

One of the more interesting trips that I have had in my life was cruising down the Nile River. I flew to Luxor, Egypt and then boarded a little riverboat where you can cruise down the Nile River and you can see the various sites that are along the Nile. It concludes at the Aswan Dam. Construction was started on the Aswan Dam in 1960 and was completed in 1972. It has twenty turbines, each one putting out a billion kilowatts a year. In 1972 that dam was dedicated by President Gamal Abdel Nasser. He pushed a button and by pushing that button the water started flowing through those turbines, the turbines started spinning and started pushing out the energy which lights up Egypt and Sudan and the surrounding territories. The button does not produce the energy. The button simply releases the energy. The energy is produced by the two hundred billion cubic yards of water within the lake that is forced through that dam. It spins those turbines and creates the energy. That is the way it is with us and our relationship with God. We push the button by inviting Jesus Christ into our lives. In the Bible, the Book of Revelations says, "I stand at the door and knock. If anyone will open the door, I will come in to him and I will eat with him." (Revelations 3:20) We push the button and we allow the power and the force of Jesus Christ to come into our lives and go through our lives and empower us with His spirit and His goodness. He won't force His way in. We have to get to a point where we say, "Okay Lord, I am ready. I need Your help. I've tried to kick this habit and I can't do it. I need Your help. I'm opening the door inviting You to come in and to make a difference in my life." I can't, He can, let Him. When He does, things change dramatically!

He was considered washed up after committing what everyone agreed was a tactical mistake during World War I. Do you know who it was? Winston Churchill. She was told early in her career that she had absolutely no ability as an actress and that she should forget about show business, go home and find a nice man to marry. Do you know who that was? Lucille Ball. He was told by a publisher, "You can't write; you'll never be able to write and please quit wasting the publisher's time with this rubbish." His name was Zane Gray. He had such difficulty learning to play the piano that his music teacher gave up on him. His name was Beethoven. He was considered a dunce by his elementary school classmates and the grades he received supported their evaluation and his name was Thomas Edison. He received a failing grade in chemistry class. He was Luis Pasteur. He failed at almost everything he tried, business, politics and law, and in 1860 he was elected President of the United States. He was Abraham Lincoln. I can't, He can, He wants to. He will. All we have to do is open the door and say, "Not my will but Thine be done, oh Lord." Why don't people allow the power of Jesus Christ to flow through their lives? I believe people still struggle with the whole concept of am I really good enough, could God actually love me? Is it possible that here I am, an insignificant human being and there is a supreme being who is willing and able to make a difference in my life?
Today I want you to know God. When there is no God, there is no peace. But when you can know God you can know peace. I want to conclude with a prayer. It is called the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr. Maybe you're familiar with it. If not, you'll become familiar with it the next few weeks because it's a great prayer.

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking as Jesus did,
the sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.


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