What do you call a dog with no arms and no legs?
Answer: It doesn’t matter. He’s not coming.
This is probably my all- time favorite joke. I don’t know why but I laughed hysterically the first time I heard it. Maybe it’s the obviousness about it or the simplicity with a hint of sadness. Whatever it is, it’s funny. At least to me. But I tend to have a sick sense of humor in areas I maybe shouldn’t, sooo….
But I do have a point.
It literally doesn’t matter what you call the dog. If your sole intent is for him to come running to you when you call his name, you’ve set him up for failure. Right? As if the ability to walk or run is all that matters? The dog failed based on what the “caller” limited him to.
When it’s put like that, it’s not so funny anymore.
But can’t you see how we do this? All the time?
We call on God in our prayers with our own little agendas. A check list for things we want God to accomplish. But if you think about it, we are sort of cutting His legs out from under Him and selling Him and ourselves short.
God does not fail. He only fails in our eyes when we don’t get our way or get what we expect.
We set ourselves up for failure when we call on Him with our own plans instead of His. It’s like we’ve given Him a field to work in, but locked Him in the house, expecting the field to get plowed. How can He work if we are limiting His and our potential? Is it fear? Doubt?
“Don’t let fear dictate your decisions. If your vision is God-given, it will most definitely be beyond your ability and beyond your resources. The God who gives the vision is the same God who makes provision.” – Mark Batterson: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge
If our sole intent is for God to “grant our requests” when we call His name, we will be disappointed. He has so much more power than that. More than we can wrap our heads around.
The poor little arm-less and leg-less doggy probably could have done other things really well. Like blind people who have intense senses of smell and of their surroundings. Our greatest strengths come from our greatest weaknesses. Who knows but the joke wasn’t about what the dog COULD do, it was about what he couldn’t.
Helen Keller’s life didn’t make history books for what she couldn’t do. She made it for what she COULD do in spite of all that she couldn’t.
We tend to focus on what we don’t think God can do. Why do we think this way? Because we base it off what WE THINK we can do.
We know there is nothing God cannot do. We read scripture that says it, we preach it and teach it. But still, we doubt.
Ephesians 3:20 says
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”
We want God to work wonders in us and through us but we only give him a portion of ourselves to work with.
Imagine if Helen Keller had spent all her prayer time asking God to give her sight, or make her hear? Even more so, what if God had given her those requests? We would have a very different story. Just thinking about that is a little unnerving.
We can’t base our prayers off our handicaps. We can’t pray according to our own strengths and weaknesses. If we do, then what’s the point of praying at all?
I have a very close friend who was born with Cerebral Palsy. This has put her in a wheel chair her entire life, and has limited her speech and motor skills. A lot of times people will see the external and focus on the obvious weaknesses. So it’s hard for her not to also focus on what people so willingly like to point out.
She has prayed for years to be healed. She has the faith of Job and believes with all her heart that God is able to heal her. But just because God is able, doesn’t mean He will.
She once asked me why I thought God wouldn’t heal her. That is a heavy question. Man what do you say to someone who wants so bad to just be “ordinary” and has more faith than almost anyone I’ve met? I sometimes struggle with what to say to, not just her, but other people as well, when I want to encourage them with hope but in my heart I know God may have a different plan that may not look like what they want right that second. So all God gave me to say was that “Maybe you are more useful to Him in a chair”.
Maybe we are more useful to God in our weaknesses.
Little does most people know that her brain is perfectly fine. She is smarter than most people her age and has an amazing gift of writing. She can use her fingers to type on a computer or phone, without even a grammatical error. She is about to get her college degree despite adversity. Her professors even doubt her because of the external “cover”. Then they are blown away when she passes with flying colors.
She should not be aiming for ordinary. She is already extraordinary.
Strengths are worth a lot more when we pair them with our weaknesses.
When we have no arms and legs, let’s pray for strength in our minds, instead of praying to grow arms and legs.
Don’t get me wrong. God can make the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, and the mute talk. And maybe someday He will heal my friend’s body. That would be an amazing site. But if He doesn’t, or until then, she is going to share her faith from where she is through her strengths.
So i have to ask myself, What weaknesses have I allowed to rule over my strengths? What have I used as an excuse to limit God’s power?
I don’t know about you but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life praying for God to heal my shortcomings. I know He can, but maybe He doesn’t need to. Maybe what we see as flaw or handicap is actually our bridge to greatness.
I bet that dog could roll over like no other dog ever.