Philip and I met up yesterday. It’s the first time I’ve seen him for almost four weeks. He went to visit his mum who he hadn’t seen for two and a half years. It was another big step for him, and it was a really positive time for him.
And so we had a lot to catch up on! We talked for around 3 hours, sharing Jesus together and all that’s happening in us and around us. And in the course of the conversation we were reminded of something a friend of Philip’s had said some months back. It made a lot of sense to me in the light of things that are happening.
And I was reminded of the story of someone very famous which typifies what I feel is happening in a small way with people who Father is drawing.
If you’ve ever heard the story of the four-minute mile, you’ll know it can teach us so much. It’s a story of breaking new ground, doing something that many deemed impossible. This account from journalist and runner John Bryant shows us how breaking this barrier was a serious goal for many runners. He reminds us that people had seriously been trying to break this barrier since at least 1886, and that the challenge involved the most brilliant coaches and gifted athletes in North America, Europe, and Australia.
“For years, milers had been striving against the clock, but the elusive four minutes had always beaten them,” he notes. “It had become as much a psychological barrier as a physical one. And like an unconquerable mountain, the closer it was approached, the more daunting it seemed.”
And then, along came a guy called Roger Bannister. He didn’t follow conventional training methods. Rather than use coaches, he devised his own training schedule, and was criticised by the British Press for being something of a “lone wolf” and urged to adopt more conventional methods of training and coaching.
Experts had calculated how the sub four-minute mile would be achieved. The perfect weather, 68 degrees fahrenheit, and no wind. And on a hard, dry, clay track. And in front of a huge crowd cheering the runner on to his best ever performance.
And then in 1954, the impossible was no longer impossible. Bannister ran the first ever sub four-minute mile. And in completely the wrong conditions, according to the experts. It was a cold day, on a wet track, in front of a few thousand people. He ran three minutes fifty-nine and four tenths of a second.
And guess what? Forty six days later, an Australian named John Landy broke the barrier and beat Bannister’s time by running 3 mins 58 secs. A year later, 3 runners in the same race ran under the 4 minute barrier. And over a thousand have done so since.
Why do I say this?
Well, in the last few weeks Father has been drawing people who are facing the same issues that Philip used to face. And I’m convinced that with all that’s happened with Philip and all that Jesus has done, new ground has been broken. It’s like something has shifted in the Spirit, and Father is drawing others to meet Jesus and to reveal Christ in them too.
We are learning afresh that nothing is impossible for him. Perhaps you are looking at an impossible situation. Father knows, and he knows just how to work out that which seems impossible to us. His methods might be unconventional. The experts may say it’s not possible, or it might only be done by doing A, B, and C. They might have their formulas and methods and ideas. But Father has one Way; his Son, Life himself.
Father says, “Trust me. Acknowledge me in all your ways. I’ll make the path straight.”
As I sat across from Philip yesterday, looking at a man who has been transformed and who looks so well that he is unrecognisable from the man we first met in November, I was reminded of the words of Philip’s friend way back when Father was drawing Philip to himself.
“It’s only impossible until it’s not.”
Trust him. Let him break new ground in you and through you. Nothing is impossible!
Eat the Living Bread, drink the Living Water.