The Little you that Could

0UTqVWN7-AlTsvZOEOne of my daughter’s favorite kid books is the Little Engine that Could. She loves trains like Thomas and all his friends from the show. But none compare to the Little Blue Engine from her book. She even calls this little blue toy engine Millie (from Thomas and Friends) the Little engine that could. Her eyes light up whenever we read it together or whenever she talks about it. Funny thing is, it was one of my favorite kids books growing up too. But now, it holds an even fonder place in my heart.

A couple weeks ago my daughter was doing something pretty new and difficult for her. She is wanting to be a ballerina and she has been accepted into a local ballet class. She’s had to practice a couple poses and moves that she had never done before her first class. Keep in mind, my daughter is only four years old so this is all brand new. One of the evenings, while I was helping her practice, she made a breakthrough. She had learned something new that she had been struggling to get for several days. She was ecstatic! She said, “dad I’m just like the Little Engine that could. I kept trying and trying and I got it!” I almost starting crying. But I kept it together and said, “that’s right my sweet girl. You just keep trying and you’ll achieve great things in life. I’m so proud of you.”

I read a story today about a girl, Katie Gallagher. She had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (high functioning Autism) when she was seven years old. That means she had a lot of struggles ahead of her in life. Her motor skills were not the best, relationships were difficult, and criticism was a near constant. As a child, her parents read her…you guessed it…The Little Engine that Could.

“I used to read Katie ‘The Little Engine that Could,’ and I would tell her she was that little engine,” said Gina Gallagher (Katie’s mom). “I told her, ‘You’re going to get to the same place everybody else is. It’s just a harder journey for you.'”

Today.com

While all of the doctors and ‘experts’ were saying she would never leave home, never finish high school, never drive a car, never go away to college, never get married, Katie’s parents were giving her hope. The now 22 year old Katie has been the Little Engine that Could. Despite her struggles, she drives a car, she is graduating from college, and she has held a part-time job at Macy’s for the past two years.

In the story ‘The Little Engine that Could’, there is an old rusty black engine who is known for saying, “I think I can’t, I think I can’t, I think I can’t.” I have known so many people who live their lives by the same motto. They’ve been told they couldn’t and they chose to believe it. Some have been told that their disadvantage will dictate their life, and they’ve believed it. Some have been crippled with fear because of something tragic that has taken place in their life. Others have been dependent on someone most of their life and now they don’t believe they can do it on their own. That is not living. That is not what God intended any of us to experience.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

God didn’t make any of us to live in fear and doubt. He didn’t make us to live in regret. We are made, fearfully and wonderfully made. My four year old daughter has this verse memorized. She believes that she is the Little ANNA that could. I hope she always knows that and knows the God who made her with purpose. Katie Gallagher was no mistake. My daughter is no mistake. You are no mistake. God made each of us out of His great love. We are all made to be that little ____ that could. Just plug your name in the phrase. Whatever you’re facing, you can overcome it in Christ. God’s image is on you. If you’re a believer, His Spirit is in you.  Live empowered. Refuse to believe the lies you’ve been told. Cast off your fears and run the race. Life is too short to cut yourself short. Remember who you are, and the God who made you.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

The Man in the Arena Speech by Teddy Roosevelt, Paris, France on 23 April, 1910

 

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Lessons from a Mermaid

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A few days ago I was watching The Little Mermaid with my daughter. Believe it or not, I actually had a spiritual encounter. Don’t laugh! I’m serious. It happened during the scene where Ariel and Ursula are negotiating at Ursula’s lair. In a quick synopsis, Ariel wants to become a human so she can walk on land in hopes of living happily ever after with the love of her life, Prince Eric. Ursula wants to dominate the entire sea. Ursula proposes a plan to “help” Ariel get her dream come true. In reality, she wants to use Ariel’s desires to trap her and take her soul. Ariel’s crab friend, Sebastian, tries to stop her but she is overcome by her longing for Prince Eric that she agrees to a contract with Ursula. During this scene, the Holy Spirit took me to school on spiritual matters.

Ursula is a representation of Satan. Her goal is the same as his. She wants to control the seas and all that is in them, and Satan wants all of humanity. The Devil will frequently try to make agreements with humanity in order to achieve his goals. Those contracts seem enticing, but at their core, they are deceptive and evil just as Ursula’s were. Ursula played off of Ariel’s desires, just like Satan does to us. He will always pervert our desires which ultimately stacks the chips in his favor and only leads to our pain and the pain of those in our lives.

Examples: We all have a longing to be loved and accepted. Satan will confuse us on what that actually looks like, or will play off of hurts caused in our lives to lead us into making poor choices. Maybe we never felt it as a kid growing up from our parents, so we make agreements in our mind that we will seek it out, even from unhealthy sources. We meet that girl, or guy, or group of people, that makes us feel accepted and wanted, yet they only want to use us or exploit us in some way. This is exactly how gangs are formed. This is why people go from one unhealthy relationship to the next. This is why people get sucked in to pornography and affairs. This is where Satan wants us because these situations ultimately lead people away from God.

The bible contains a narrative of a similar scene from the one in the Little Mermaid. (I’ll bet that’s a statement you’ve never heard before).  The most detailed account is in Matthew 4:1-11. To summarize, Satan attempts three different ways of luring Jesus into signing a contract with him. The first is to target the thirst and hunger of Jesus because He had been in the desert fasting for 40 days. Satan will try to exploit the needs and wants of our flesh. If we aren’t getting something that we perceive as a need or have a desire for it, then Satan will surely offer up something to fill that. The problem is, it will not be a good thing and we will certainly have to pay a major price if we take the bait. The second is to challenge the identity of Jesus by saying, “if you truly are the Son of God…” Satan is sometimes referred to as the accuser or father of lies. This is because he twists reality and brings charges against everyone who has ever been born. He does not want us to know in our hearts that we are created in the image of God. Those who do embrace that identity are more empowered to live for God and overcome temptations. The third was to offer Him a counterfeit to that which was already His. Jesus already had control over everything in creation, because He created it and He is how all things are held together. Satan still had the audacity to offer Jesus the kingdoms of the world. Those who are in Christ are already loved, accepted, valued, and given great purpose in life. Satan wants to confuse us on that so that we will look for those things in another source besides God.

These are pretty common methods that the Devil uses which is why I believe Jesus wanted us to see it through His experience. I couldn’t believe that God was taking me on a journey of the soul during an animated movie. It just goes to show that there are no limits to how His Spirit can work in us.

I hope that this post can be an encouragement to you and can help you stand in the face of temptation and hurts and see the counterfeits being offered you. I hope that the days of your life are empowered by Holy Spirit strength and wisdom to see the good from the bad and the light from the dark and be able to choose the right path to take. For me, the scene from the movie, or that from Matthew 4, can sometimes play out daily. The good news is, that Satan can’t force any of us into a contract, we have to choose it. We can decide who we want to be like…Ariel or Jesus.

Jesus shut him up all three times by using the Word of God to expose Satan’s deceptions. Interestingly enough, Jesus is the Word of God made flesh so He was never really at the risk of being drawn away by Satan’s schemes. For us, we have to use the same method. We have to tap into the same source as Jesus did. The bible tells us who were are, how much God loves us, and what our purpose in life is. A life lived with these answers will have fulfillment, unconditional acceptance, and have far less room for the enemy of our souls to try to invade.

I’ll end with some verses to declare that in Him, we are strong!

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” -James 4:7

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” -1 Corinthians 10:13

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Corinthians 12:9-10

God Bless!!!