Every day you can find a rule that tells you what you can’t do. “Don’t walk on the grass,” or “Don’t speed.” Sometimes they are verbalized positively, but we almost always hear them as limits. They tell us what we can’t do.
I have seen kids who were paralyzed because they could only think of what would NOT work, what they were NOT allowed to do, places they could NOT go. Teenaged boys can identify the girls that will NOT go out with them. Grown men and women can itemize which jobs they can NOT do.
But with every limit, I find that we are surrounded by thousands of possibilities, opportunities, options. None are perfect and we can pick them apart, but if we’re not careful, we will be blind to all that we CAN do.
When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, the disciples were immediately focused on what a man could or should NOT do. In their thinking, they were in the wrong place, with the wrong people, at the wrong time. But Jesus reframed their thinking with a new image. “You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.” It’s not a mindset of “someday.” TODAY people are in need. TODAY we can show kindness. TODAY we can love someone in Jesus’ name. TODAY we can pray. TODAY we can love our neighbor. TODAY we can tell the truth in kindness.
Just like the disciples, we can choose: We can focus on what we cannot do, or we can savor and pursue what we CAN do.